Sofía Araya has enjoyed a thriving career in Chilean wine since graduating from la Universidad de Chile, and today she serves as head winemaker for several prestigious Chilean wineries. At a recent media dinner, she led a tasting of a selection of organically-farmed wines with the Ritual, Primus, and Neyen labels.
During the evening, Sofía
conveyed that her focus is on letting the grapes and the land where they’re
grown shine. The first wines we tasted were from Ritual, which pays homage
to vineyard workers by featuring them on the labels.
Ritual Sauvignon Blanc was a fresh wine with lively aromas of gooseberry, notes of lemon mousse on the palate, surprising body, and good acidity. Sofía uses some whole clusters in the crush as well as barrel fermentation to add complexity to this wine. $21
Ritual Pinot Noir was a
medium to light bodied wine with ripe red cherry flavors with notes of sage and
white pepper. It’s created with native yeast in the fermentation. $21
The Primus Carmenere is
from vines that are 25 years old as well as some older vines approaching 80-90
years. Sofía believes that Carmenere grapes benefit immensely from these older
vines. This wine had blackberry and toffee on the nose and palate, along with spicy
pepper notes. $21
Primus Red Blend had a
nose of black and red fruit with a hint of green pepper. On the palate the wine
offered black fruit with notes of rosemary. It had good length, smooth tannin,
and balance. $21
Neyen is a wine label named for the spirit of Alpata, the esteemed region within the Colchagua Valley. The grapes for the wines from this label are sourced from old terraces of the Tinguiririca River.
Neyen wine is a blend of Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine had rich
aromas of blackberries and cherries with hints of rosemary. The wine was full
bodied with rich fruit as well as a note of balsamic and toffee on the back
end. It was a truly gorgeous wine that I would love to see with age. $65
Neyen Malbec is a special wine that showcases how Malbec on the other side of
the Andes can fare. This wine offered delicate aromas of roses and red candies,
and the palate had both structure and freshness with ripe Bing cherry flavors
and fine tannins. $150
the wines made under Sofía Araya had a freshness and a focus to them – the flavors had a
purity that winemaking only sought to enhance without hiding anything. I
appreciated these well-crafted wines, which further strengthened my contention
that wines from Chile offer both value and quality to wine lovers.