The grapes for our KAI are sourced from the finest lots of Carmenère from our Max Vineyards in the Valle de Aconcagua, a region that features an extended dry season with moderately warm summer days cooled by the soft afternoon breezes that blow in from the Pacific Ocean. Don Maximiano Estate Carmenère vineyards (Max II and Max V sectors) were planted in 1992–1993 and are trellised to vertical shoot position. Because Carmenère is a highly vigorous varietal, it is especially important to balance the crop load. The average yield is approximately 1.5–2 kg (3–4.4 lbs) per vine, which allows proper fruit set, control of vigour, and the production of wines with impressive concentration, colour, and volume. We pick our Carmenère quite late in the season to ensure a higher concentration of ripe fruit flavours. The high average daily temperature variation (19°C / 34.2°F) in the weeks prior to harvest trigger high concentrations of anthocyanins, which results in wines with tremendous colour intensity. Selective leafpulling, an essential technique for reaching ideal tannin maturity and maximizing fruit aromas and flavours, is done 5 or 6 weeks prior to harvest to allow the autumn sunlight to penetrate both sides of the canopy and reach the fruit zone, which helps to prevent any herbaceous aromas and allows the ripe fruit characteristics of the grapes to develop fully.
- Altitude: Max II (580 m/1,902 f asl); Max V (600 m/1,968 f asl).
- Climate: Mediterranean with a long dry season and winter rainfall.
- Soil: Max II: Deep soils of colluvial origin with a loam to sandy-loam texture and 30–40% stone compound. Max V: Deep alluvial soils with 50% stone compound.
The hand-picked grapes were carefully selected on a sorting table and then deposited into stainless steel tanks for fermentation at 26° to 30°C (79°–86ºF). Aerative pumpovers were used throughout fermentation, especially with Carmenère, to help the polymerization of reactive tannins, eliminate herbaceous traces, and encourage colour set to enhance the already excellent expression of the wine’s fruit character. Carmenère and Syrah had a long 28 to 30 days of skin contact, while the Petit Verdot remained on its skins for 6 days of maceration. Small portions of Syrah and Petit Verdot (7% each) were included in the final blend for greater complexity and depth to add layers of flavour to the blend. The Syrah contributed black fruit and complemented the sweet tannins, while the Petit Verdot added structure, spicy character, and raised the sense of freshness due to its pleasing acidity. The new wine was then racked directly to 100% French oak barrels, 95% of which were new, and aged for 18 months.
Deep, intense purplish-red in colour, with ripe black fruit complemented by subtle notes of chocolate, tobacco, and sweet spices on the nose. The palate is very soft due to the ripeness of the firm tannins and an acidity that bodes well for excellent longevity. Today this youthful wine is voluptuous and very expressive, particularly of blackberries, roasted red bell pepper, fresh ground white pepper, truffle, and sweet spice. The finish is long, velvety, and very elegant.