I’m jealous that Chris was able to visit this winery on his recent trip to Chile. Fortunately for me, the local distributor is a colleague of mine, and it was this connection that led to being able to taste Undurraga’s premium wine, the Altazor.
Being half Asian, I appreciate the spectacle of ostentatious vulgarity as its own form of style. Hence, I am attracted to the packaging here. The bottle itself is weighty, with an obscenely deep punt, but what makes it for me is the unapologetically gold labelling, medallion-like in its glittering assertiveness. How can one fail to enjoy a wine so presented?
I thought it was corked at first, but the slightly corky smell faded and turned into raw oak and a curious tobacco note that reminded me of Carménère. No surprise, then, to know this wine, while predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon, has a percentage of that characterful lost grape of Bordeaux. On the nose, crushed leaves, complex berry fruit — purple and red in character — and perhaps slightly jammy. I found the aroma to change throughout my experience of this wine, constantly shifting and evolving in an attractive way.
The palate is strikingly intense, yet only medium bodied, the combination of which establishes its intent as decidedly European. The fruit is pure, driven and attractive, varietal yet at the same time characterful, with an earthy, distinctively leafy edge. The attack is substantial and full, tapering slightly to medium and after palates of more elegant proportions. The finish powers through, extending to considerable length, with fruit and sweet, slightly uneven tannins carrying the can. There’s a particularly intriguing note of minerality on the finish, really striking and beautiful. Everything about this wine speaks of quality.
If you’re going to do a premium label, this isn’t a bad approach. It’s powerful and balanced, made in a classic mould, but with its own identity too.