Viña Mayu was established in the early 2000s, with a view to making Italian influenced wines from the unique climate and soil conditions of the Elqui Valley. Mayu means "creek of stars," and it was an ancient Inca name for the Milky Way. As well as a large hotel whose rooms take the form of small geodesic domes to facilitate stargazing, there are eight internationally important observatories in Elqui, (one of them in the Mayu estate), and the region is a renowned astrotourism centre.
At the edge of the Atacama Desert, and some 250 miles north of Santiago, Elqui Valley is one of the most northerly wine regions in Chile. The region enjoys over 340 days of sunshine per year, (the solar radiation being ten times clearer than that of Europe), precious little rainfall and a remarkable difference between its day- and night-time temperatures - daytime temperatures in the high thirties contrast with the sea fog that moistens the grapes during the very cold nights. It also has one of the clearest atmospheres on earth, with almost ten times more solar radiation than Europe. Land in the region has been cultivated for centuries, not least because the area is noted for Pisco production, and ancient irrigation channels built by the Incas still line the valley and serve to bring snowmelt to the parched vineyards. Wine has been made in the region since the late 1990s, when Chilean growers started to look beyond the Central Valley, and as well as bringing wonderfully ripe and expressive wines from the more established varietals, the area is a hotbed of experimentation that will reward the watchful eye!
Producer Giorgio Flessati hails from the mountainous northern area of Trentino, Italy, and divides his time between there and the Elqui Valley. He graduated in oenology at San Michelle all'Adige and started his career in the same vicinity. He has worked in Bordeaux, Alsace and Burgundy in addition to consultancy work in Australia, Moldova and Sicily. He launched his own winery in Chile in 1999, and has won awards in some of the world's most prestigious contests.
The grapes were hand-picked, de-stemmed, crushed and macerated at 10C for 72 hours, before being fermented on their skins in stainless steel tanks at 26-28C. Pistons in the tanks broke the cap four to six times a day for the first week, and, after malolactic conversion, 50% of the batch was aged in new French and American oak barrels for five months. This Syrah has alluring aromas of red fruit and black pepper that continue to the robust, full-bodied palate, where the flavours are met by hints of smoke and leather.