The Wines of Álvaro Espinoza: Kuyen and Antiyal

Morgan VineyardsAbout a year ago we stopped by Antiyal, Álvaro Espinoza (pictured here) and Marina Ashton’s estate in Chile’s Upper Maipo Valley. Since new releases of their wines are now available, it is time to revisit the wines. In the Chilean world of huge commercial wineries, Álvaro and Marina’s venture is unusual. Their estate is small, and they practice biodynamic viticulture and winemaking. They also make some of Chile’s very best red blends.

Álvaro is son of another winemaker, Mario Espinoza, and studied enology in Chile at a time prior to its wine export boom when winemaking was not regarded as a promising profession. He previously made wine at Viña Carmen, and he continues to make wine at Emiliana Orgánico and Rayun, both of which are farmed organically and biodynamically. In our Report # 21 earlier this year titled The Chilean Wine Revolution, we gave the Emiliana “G” red blend one of our very highest evaluations. The two wines reviewed here—Kuyen and Antiyal—also consistently receive plaudits from the wine critics, including yours truly.

Global Vineyard Wine Importers of Berkeley, CA, brings in Kuyen and Antiyal.

Kuyen 2008 ($30) 90+

KuyenFirst launched in 2001, this wine is quite an exotic blend of dark fruit, earth and spice. It’s not an up-front-fruit knocks your socks off kind of wine but, rather, complex and subtle on the attack. There’s a purity of berry fruit on the nose with accents of earth and cured olives. It’s a bit reserved on the palate at the present with layers of spice and earth on a backdrop of dark red fruit, finishing with ripe tannins and notable length. We recommend cellaring for a year or two, but if you must drink it now, please decant a couple of hours in advance of the meal. Kuyen is sourced from fruit grown at Álvaro and Marina’s home estate. It is a blend of Syrah (49%), Cabernet Sauvignon (34%), and Carmenère (17%) and is aged in French oak. Only one thousand cases produced.

Antiyal 2008 ($65) 92

AntiyalTen years after the very first vintage of Antiyal, the 2008 edition is an elegantly crafted wine with a pure red fruit note that runs through from start to finish. It shows aromas of dark red berries, lilacs and underbrush with a bright red raspberry note. On the velvet palate it’s savory with violets, fresh red plum, and cracked black pepper with a slight feral note. Despite its youth, the tannins are mature, and the wine is ready to drink now, but we recommend decanting. Antiyal is a blend of Carmenère (43%), Cabernet Sauvignon (39%), and Syrah (18%) sourced from biodynamically certified vineyards (including the one surrounding Álvaro and Marina’s house). Fewer than 600 cases produced.

Mike Potashnik and Don Winkler