Wines of Chile: Maule Valley



By Kori ~ January 16th, 2013.

During my media trip to Chile in the fall, I had the pleasure to visit a number of its wineries and vineyards and meet many of the movers and shakers in the Chilean wine industry. I am individually highlighting some of the wine regions we visited including reviews of wines I tasted from those regions. Today, I am focusing on the Maule Valley, located about 250 kilometers south of Santiago, which is the southernmost region we visited.

The Maule Valley is the largest and one of the oldest wine regions in Chile. A long overlooked region, the Maule Valley is garnering renewed attention. The valley is able to produce a wide variety of wines but is especially known for its Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Carmenere, and old-vine Carignan. Our winery visit in the Maule Valley was to J. Bouchon. We tasted a number of their wines as well as one wine from Santa Carolina whose grapes came from the Maule Valley.

Emile Bouchon, a native of Bordeaux, France, settled in Chile in 1892 with the dream of producing wines in the New World. In 1977, the Bouchon family acquired the Santa Maria de Mingre estate in the Maule Valley, built new facilities, planted vineyards, and modernized their winemaking practices. They began exporting their wines in the 1990’s. Today, Julio Bouchon Sepúlveda and his children continue the family tradition and are committed to producing quality wines from the Maule Valley.

Our visit to J. Bouchon was a special treat as we toured the vineyards on horseback and stayed in the rustic hacienda-style lodge on the Mingre. I will fondly remember my “Chilean cowgirl” experience. It had been a while since this Texas girl had been on a horse, but it certainly was fun.

We had the pleasure to meet and visit with Julio Bouchon Lyon, the marketing manager for J. Bouchon. After our horseback tour of the vineyards, we enjoyed an informal tasting on the back porch of the lodge. (As a result, I do not have detailed tasting notes about all of those wines.) Then we enjoyed a delicious dinner inside the lodge, paired with more J. Bouchon wines. I certainly was impressed with the overall quality of their wines.

Currently, J. Bouchon produces about 150,000 cases per year. They are planning to plant more vines next year. Julio said that he could ultimately see J. Bouchon producing and selling 500,000 cases annually while maintaining the quality for which they are known.

Wines I tasted from the Maule Valley during my recent media trip:

2012 J. Bouchon Sauvignon Blanc Reserva (Maule Valley, Chile): Pale straw yellow. Aromatic with lime and grapefruit on both the nose and palate. Dry and light-bodied with crisp acidity and a long, refreshing finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Suggested Retail Price: $15

2012 J. Bouchon Las Mercedes Sauvignon Blanc (Maule Valley, Chile): Pale straw yellow. Nice nose with aromas and flavors of citrus fruit, especially lemon, straw, and a touch of cream. Dry and light-bodied with crisp acidity. Well-balanced with good complexity and a long, lingering finish. Very crisp and refreshing.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Suggested Retail Price: $20

2012 J. Bouchon Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé (Maule Valley, Chile): Pale pink. Nice nose with strawberry, raspberry, and watermelon aromas. Strawberry and orange peel come through on the palate. Dry and light to medium-bodied with crisp acidity and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Suggested Retail Price: $15

2011 J. Bouchon Barrel Fermented Sauvignon Blanc (Maule Valley, Chile): Last vintage of this wine, moving to make a white blend instead.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 1 bang for your buck (out of 5)
Suggested Retail Price: $28

2010 J. Bouchon Reserva Especial Carmenere (Maule Valley, Chile)
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Suggested Retail Price: $19

2010 J. Bouchon Reserva Especial Malbec (Maule Valley, Chile)
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Suggested Retail Price: $19

2010 J. Bouchon Las Mercedes Ensamblaje (Maule Valley, Chile)
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Suggested Retail Price: $28

2009 J. Bouchon Mingre (Maule Valley, Chile): Red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Malbec, and Carmenere.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 2 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Suggested Retail Price: $50

1999 J. Bouchon Assemblage (Maule Valley, Chile): Red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, and Carmenere.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Suggested Retail Price: $28

2009 Santa Carolina Specialties “Dry Farming” Carignan (Cauquenes Valley, Maule Valley, Chile): Deep purple. Aromatic with bright black cherry, leather, and earth on both the nose and palate. Medium to full-bodied with crisp acidity, silky tannins, and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR:  4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Suggested Retail Price: $15-17

Salud!


Filed under: Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Chilean Wine, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Lesser Known Varietals, Malbec, Red Wine, Rose Wine, Sauvignon Blanc, White Wine, Wine Travel, Wines Over $25, Wines Under $15, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25

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