Chile in Your Glass: The Wines of Viña Maipo

From by Wanda Mann
Chile in Your Glass: The Wines of Viña Maipo

Experiencia-11Max Weinlaub, chief winemaker at Viña Maipo in Chile, says that wine "is a matter of balance" and "wine needs to play a bit on the nose and tongue."
image courtesy of Viña Maipo 

Winemaker Max Weinlaub's ebullient personality and encyclopedic knowledge of vino shine through in conversation and in the beautifully crafted wines that he produces for Viña Maipo. A native of Chile, Max has served as chief winemaker at Viña Maipo since 2007 and his meticulous winemaking has been garnering rave reviews at home and beyond.

Founded in 1948 in the Maipo Valley region, Viña Maipo is Chile's 4th largest exporter of wine. From easy-breezy & refreshing whites to complex & robust reds, Viña Maipo produces wines from Chile's main wine regions and offers options for every palate and budget.  

Vitral Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2016 ($11)
Vitral means stained glass window in Spanish and this line of wines is inspired by the light streaming through the windows of the church in Maipo - the winery's hometown has a long & rich religious tradition. Chilean Sauvignon Blanc has become one of my favorite wines and Viña Maipo's lovely expression doesn't disappoint. Refreshing and juicy, cool coastal influences can be tasted in its vibrant flavors of stone fruits, citrus, mango, and crisp minerality. Vitral Sauvignon Blanc is a winning match with fresh shellfish and ceviche but also perfect as an apéritif. 

Vitral Reserva Chardonnay 2016 ($11)
Max said that "Chile in a glass" was his goal with this delightful Chardonnay. A blink of time in French oak adds a subtle touch of cream & vanilla to pure fruit flavors of citrus with a hint of pineapple and white peaches. I loved the honest expression of the Chardonnay in this wine - the judicious use of oak subtly enhanced the flavors of the grape without obscuring its essence. Vitral Reserva Chardonnay is versatile enough to pair with seafood, chicken, and creamy pasta dishes. 


Incredibly expressive and capable of great power and finesse, Carmenere has its roots in Bordeaux but is now most closely identified with Chile. A great introduction to Carmenere and the Viña Maipo style is Vitral Reserva Carmenere 2015 ($13). Max says that "peppery is part of the nature of Carmenere." Those spicy notes are balanced by soft tannins and rich flavors of blueberry, black currants, and lively acidity. A great match with steak or a burger. 


For a more complex expression of Carmenere, give Gran Devoción Carmenere/Syrah 2013 ($25) a swirl. The addition of 15% Syrah deftly amplifies the flavors of this robust but elegant red wine. Viña Maipo planted Chile's very first Syrah vineyards and Max describes Syrah as a "chameleon" and "a grape with many personalities." Syrah is an important component in many of Viña Maipo's top wines. Gran Devoción's flavors of chocolate, violets, blueberries, and blackberries are balanced by soft round tannins and optimal acidity. A luscious and sexy wine, Gran Devoción is a great match with a candlelit meal.


Protegido 2013 ($50) is an artful blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (97%), and 1% each of Cabernet Franc, Syrah, and Petit Verdot that has aged for 20 months in French oak barrels. Complex but not aggressive, the superb quality of the hand-picked grapes is evident in this wine's layers of vibrant dark fruit, spice, and chocolate. 

Wines from Chile are getting a well deserved share of the spotlight and Viña Maipo is an important player. Even Viña Maipo's entry level ones display quality winemaking and a sense of place - authentically Chilean and absolutely delicious!