Thursday 3 June 2010

Max on his way to Dublin

HE is one of Chile's finest winemakers - and he's coming to Dublin to promote the wines he makes at Viña Maipo.

I had the pleasure of tasting Max Weinlaub's wines on a hilltop overlooking his beloved Syrah vines close to the town of Maipo, in Chile's  Maipo Valley last October.

The big man's passion for what he does is infectious - and the obvious love and care he puts into what he does shows in the wines he makes.

A Universidad de Concepción student, where he graduated as an Agricultural Engineer, Max went on to pursue a degree in winemaking at Universidad de Chile.

He recalls: 'During the last semester of the Agricultural Engineering degree I took some subjects about microbiology and winemaking.

'Immediately I felt making wine is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. For me, winemaking is a blend of science and art, where talent, skills, scientific knowledge and sometimes instinct, all together lets me create unique wines.'

Max took part in  the 1999 and 2000 California harvest seasons, at La Crema Winery (Santa Rosa) and Franciscan Estates (Oakville) respectively.

He arrived at Concha y Toro, one of Chile's largest wine producers in 2000 and until 2007, he works as Assistant Winemaker of the Casillero del Diablo, Trio and Marques de Casa Concha ranges.

He is now head winemaker at Viña Maipo - and he has real job satisfaction.

Max says: 'I love the fact I can turn up to work wearing just old jeans and a polar fleece. Not worried about mud or dust in my shoes. To spend part of my time in the vineyard, hearing birds singing and breathing good air is priceless.

'Other parts of my time that I also enjoy is to travel to different countries to learn from other cultures especially through their local food.'

He added: 'I think that wine-language is universal. What somebody could consider soft, deep, rich, concentrated, ripe or fruity in a wine will be understood by consumers in Mexico, China, UK or Angola. So, wines have the ability to break barriers and to open minds.'

Viña Maipo wines are available in Ireland exclusively through Dunnes Stores. Both the entry level end reserva wines are fine - but the class act are the 'Gran Devocion' series. They are 'normally' on sale for around €14.99 in Dunnes but can be bought 'on promotion' regularly for under €8.

Try them, you won't be disappointed.

(Picture shows Max, with glass in hand, and myself in Chile last October)