2009 Vina Tabali Reserva Especial Red Wine Limari Valley
Expert Ratings
RP 92 points
RP 92 points
(Read the full reviews below)
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Vineyards of Vina Tabali "Why do you want to go to Limari?"

We'd read too much about Vina Tabali not to make the trip. But when we asked the concierge at our hotel in Santiago for the best route to Limari, he looked up quizzically. Then, he rolled his eyes. "Limari? Why would you want to go to Limari?"

There are a handful of young estates in the New World which, after you read about them and taste their wines, you can't help but book a trip. We found one at the 45th parallel of Central Otago, following the trail of a Pinot Noir we'd discovered at a sommelier roundtable in Manhattan. Tarras -- where much of Lord of the Rings was filmed -- would prove to be as magical as Tolkien's imagination.

Then there was the 4.5 hour SUV ride up to Donald Hess's Colome. In the high desert of Salta, 10,000 feet in elevation, we'd not only re-discover some of the most riveting, high-toned Malbec in the world, but an entire village that Hess had been obliged to build, just to house and educate the resident workforce!

But even a trip to the 46th parallel wouldn't top what we'd find after our torturous 10-hour drive to Guillermo Luksic's Vina Tabali.

Google maps makes everything look easy. Since our driving habits are Italianate, our general rule of thumb suggests taking the suggested time to arrival, then multiplying by 3/4. But, by the time we reached the fishing town of Los Vilos -- our halfway point -- we knew we'd miscalculated. The first 150 miles had eaten up almost five hours. We stopped for lunch, then gunned it. Four hours later, after bending inland, we'd arrived.

What brought us to Limari? We first tasted winemaker Felipe Muller's 2009 Vina Tabali Reserva Especial shortly after reading a stellar review in the December 2012 issue of The Wine Advocate. The Chilean report, as always, was exhaustive. Over 700 wines were featured. Of the top ten bottles, four fetch over $100 (welcome to Chile 2013!). The Vina Tabali Reserva ($29) would be the bargain of the batch, finishing in a tie for #9 at 92 points.

Most intriguing in the review, and in our tasting, wasn't so much the sappy black fruit for which the top Chilean blends are so well known, but the elegance and refinement of a bottle that seemed to walk the tightrope between Stags Leap and Bordeaux's Right Bank. Just 10 meters down that first row of Vina Tabali and we understood why.

Vina Tabali is divided into two parcels, one just five miles from the Pacific, the other fifteen. Although located quite close to the equator, like the Santa Barbara coastline, the climate is tempered by both the fog and brisk maritime gusts. Summer temperatures rarely top 80 degrees, where, nighttime lows -- as we'd already learned -- dipped into the 50s.

The surprisingly cool microclimate explained the wonderful reined-in richness of the 2009 Reserva, but what of the pedigree of the finish, the gentle dusting of tannins, the Right Bank elegance?

It's often said in France that all the great wines of the world are planted on limestone soils. The French argue -- convincingly -- that the New World's challenge isn't so much climatic, but soil-based. There's precious little limestone soil in California where grapes are likely to grow. Ditto for Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and Chile ... except for one spot that sits roughly 10 hours by car from a less than helpful concierge's desk in that 2-star Santiago hotel.

Limari, as we'd learn after scooping up the soil on that first row, is strewn with limestone, and Guillermo Luksic's 2009 Vina Tabali Reserva -- already blessed with a superbly mild, magically sunlit microclimate, almost smack dab on the equator(!) -- may well be Chile's finest bargain retort to the French terroiristes.

Tasting Notes

2009 Vina Tabali Reserva Especial Red Wine Limari Valley
"The 2009 Reserva Especial Syrah/Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot is a blend of 74% Syrah with 14% Merlot and 12% Cabernet Sauvignon. It has a lifted, violet and peppermint scented bouquet with fine delineation. The palate is medium-bodied with sappy black fruit on the entry, fine tannins and a crisp, focused, elegant finish that caresses the palate. This blend works beautifully. Drink now-2020."
92 points -- Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate -- December 2012

"The 2009 Reserva Especial Blend is composed of 74% Syrah, 14% Merlot, and 12% Cabernet Sauvignon. A glass-coating opaque purple color, it emits an expressive bouquet of pain grille, mineral, Asian spices, incense, blueberry, and blackberry. Extracted on the palate with excellent richness, spicy flavors, and excellent balance, it will benefit from 1-2 years of additional bottle age and should be at its best from 2013 to 2019."
92 points -- Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate -- February 2012

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