2014 Vina Maitia "Maitia"


“Chilean wine” conjures up an image of large wineries that produce multiple brands of clean, well-made, ripe and fruity international varietals. But Viña Maitia represents a new direction in Chilean wine, one of smaller producers, unfamiliar regions, older vineyards, and a simpler, more hands-off approach to winemaking. Located in the Maule Valley, about 300 km south of Santiago, Viña Maitia makes Vinos de Autoros – something like “artisanal wines” – and is operated by the husband and wife team of David Marcel, a French/Basque vigneron, and Loreta Garau, a Chilean enologist. The Maule Valley stands out from Chile’s more established regions by getting so much winter rain, winegrowers can eschew irrigation and  “dry farm” their vineyards. In addition, cool air flows up the Maule River from the Pacific Ocean, holding down the summer highs, extending the growing season and allowing for wines with bright, fresh acidity. But David and Loreta discovered something else when they bought their land: old vines – Pais, Carignane and Malbec planted, in some cases, well over 150 years ago. Because Pais (aka the Mission grape brought over by Spanish missionaries in the 1500s) is associated with Chilean jug wines, other winegrowers might have replanted the vineyards with Merlot or Chardonnay. However, David and Loreta saw the opportunity to make “wines of place” and help preserve Chile’s viticultural heritage at the same time.  (To better understand Pais, consider California Zinfandel. Yes, it is the source of the insipid and embarrassing White Zin; on the other hand, when made from fruit grown on low-yielding, old vines, it can embody all that's wonderful in California wine.) Like many younger generation winemakers in California and Europe, their approach incorporates artisanal methods, such as low or no sulphur, natural yeast fermentation in concrete tanks, and aging in neutral vessels. Viña Maitia has been in operation since only 2012, yet they symbolize the new energy in the Maule Valley, preserving the heritage of Chilean wine traditions, making wines of a place – for our time and for all times. 


Maitia (“my love” in Basque) is made in a way that the French winegrowers working in the Maule Valley 100 years ago would surely recognize. It’s a field blend of Carignane, Pais and Cabernet Franc from a vineyard in which the vines are over 60 years old. Those vignerons planted Carignane to add color, acidity and structure to the Pais. Wistful for home, perhaps, they called the wine Burdeo – Bordeaux – even though it would not have resembled a Bordeaux in the least!  According to David Marcel, they also may not have been aware that a certain portion of the cuttings they planted were, in fact, Cabernet Franc, which now adds berry fruit and herbaceous notes to the blend. Maitia is made in a traditional, “handmade” way, with the fruit co-fermented in concrete tanks with a large percentage of whole clusters to encourage a partial carbonic maceration. Maitia is bright and refreshing when young but will develop a more complex bouquet over the next five to ten years.


Carignane, Cabernet Franc and Pais are harvested and fermented together (about 10% whole clusters) in concrete tanks. The wine ages in concrete until bottling. 

Tasting notes

90 points – Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (2013). The wine offers a fresh and bright mouthful of red fruit and spice. There’s a nice supple texture, and some herbal and minty notes emerge on the finish. 


Maule Valley


60% Carignan, 30% Cabernet Franc, 10% Pais