2012 Merino Syrah Limarí Valley (Previously $15)

SKU #1151757 91 points Wine & Spirits

 Imagine a blender filled with fresh-picked blackberries. This smells & tastes like those berries after they've been pureed, as vibrant as it is soft & juicy. Added to that gentle, smooth feel, there's a hint of meatiness giving the wine extra power & complexity.  (2/ 2014)

K&L Notes

The Limarí Valley is arguably the most exciting region in Chile for those who favor wine made from grapes grown in relatively cooler climates. Like California's Sonoma Coast, Limarí has a strong, cooling, Pacific Ocean influence on the vineyards. These are vineyards that happen to be planted on limestone based soils, so that imparts terrific minerality in the wines. While I cannot wait to see how Limarí's wines are once the vineyards mature and come in to their own, the wines are already very good. Merino's Syrah shows lovely mixed berry fruits, with hints of red fruits as well, and Syrah's tell-tale, ever so slightly smoky pungency that to me brings to mind fresh cardamom. (Joe Manekin, K&L South American wine buyer)

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Varietal:

Shiraz/Syrah

- One of France's noblest black grape varieties, Syrah is known for its intense and distinctive perfume reminiscent of briar fruit, tar, spice and black pepper and its firm structure. One of few black grape varietals frequently vinified on its own, the best examples of Syrah come from the Northern Rhône, particularly Hermitage, but also Côte-Rôtie, Cornas, Crozes-Hermitage and St-Joseph. These wines are very astringent in their youth, though some Crozes-Hermitage and St-Joseph can be enjoyed young, relatively speaking. Given the requisite patience, though, these wines can reveal amazing complexity and secondary fruit characteristics like plum and blackcurrant as well as subtle hints of smoke and flowers. In the Southern Rhône, Syrah is used to add structure and complexity to wines dominated by Grenache and complemented by Mourvèdre, like the more immediately drinkable Côte du Rhônes, as well as the long-lived wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. In recent years, plantings of Syrah have spread throughout the Languedoc-Roussillon where it is produced on its own or blended with other varietals. Outside of France, the most important Syrah growing country is easily Australia, where it is called Shiraz. Quality levels here depend greatly on yields and geography, and the wines range from bold, fruity and easy-drinking to intense and ageable, like the famed Penfolds Grange. Often bottled on its own, in Australia Syrah is also can be blended with Grenache and Mourvèdre, as in the Southern Rhône, and is increasingly combined with Cabernet Sauvignon. Syrah has also been steadily increasing in popularity in California, thanks to a group of advocates called the Rhône Rangers. Its most successful iterations come from the Central and Sonoma Coasts, where winemakers are pushing boundaries and creating some incredible wines. In recent years Syrah has also found a number of proponents in Washington State, which is definitely a region to watch for this variety.
Country:

Chile

- Located on the western coast of South America and bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Andes to the East, the Chilean wine-growing climate is similar to that of California's Napa Valley and Bordeaux. The Chilean wine industry is known for being consistently free of phylloxera, but political and economic unrest has brought its own source of disorder. The recent establishment of a free market has resuscitated the wine industry, and significant investments have been made, switching the economic focus from domestic production to exports. Chile produces roughly a quarter of the wine Argentina produces, and is known for single-varietal exports, predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. It's a popular region in the U.S. known for inexpensive and tasty wine. Click for a list of bestselling items from Chile.