Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Report from … Wines of Chile 2010 – October 5, 2010

This year, hosted at the Royal Ontario Museum, the wines of Chile annual event is always a must attend to see (and taste) where Chile is going – because we all know where they’ve been.  Never on top of the world of wine, but always somewhere near it, Chile has been the perennial bridesmaid, to Australian and now Argentina.  Chile is known for value, excellent weather and juicy Merlots, which later became Carmenere, once they discovered it was there.  Some of my favourite wines have come from this long, narrow country and in fact my first love of red wines came at the hand of a bottle of Chilean Merlot – so they have a special place in my heart.

Chile still offers up excellent value, though their wine prices are rising, and they still offer excellent wines from any grape variety they decide to put their pressers to.  Today 35 wineries filled the hall with wines ranging from crisp whites to big tannic reds and everything in between.

Chile by the Numbers …
For a country that’s 4300km long and 177km wide, Chile has quite a diversity of regions: 14 regions spread throughout the entire length of the country from the Elqui Valley in the north to the Malleco and Bio Bio Valleys in the south; Chile is the perfect place to grow grapes.

28,031 hectares of white grapes, of which Sauvignon Blanc (34.9%) rules the roost, followed closely by Chardonnay (30.6%).  But Chile is a red grape paradise with 88,762 hectares planted – Cabernet Sauvignon is king at 43.6% with Merlot (16.6%) and its signature grape, Carmenere (9.5%) coming a distant second and third respectively.

The Wines by Variety …
There were many wines to taste – here were the standouts from the ones I tasted:

Chardonnay -
Concha Y Toro 2008 Marques de Casa Concha Chardonnay ($17.95) – no doubt as to this being Chardonnay, it has vanilla, juicy peach and sweet caramelle notes that make it cheek-suckingly good. (****)

San Esteban 2008 In Situ Chardonnay Winemaker Selection ($11.65) – for the price this is fantastic: nice fruit, vanilla cream and pineapple puree. (****)

Sauvignon Blanc –
Montes 2010 Classic Series Sauvignon Blanc ($12.95) – great citrus, grapefruit and melon; refreshing and tasty for so little dough. (****)

Montgras 2009 Amaral Sauvignon Blanc ($14.95) – all I can say is this wine is very Sauvignon Blanc-ish onboth nose and taste, there’s no mistaking it … what makes it even more appealing is the lingering finish. (****)

Viognier –
Anakena 2009 Viognier Single Vineyard ($15.95) – this ones all pineapple and lime, very refreshing and tasty. (****)

Cabernet Sauvignon –
Carmen 2007 Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon ($16.95) – a nose of chocolate and red licorice which added to those aromas a mixture of strawberries and black cherries in the mouth. (****)

Errazuriz 2008 Max Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon ($17.95) – mint-chocolate kicks this one off followed by red and black fruit on a lusciously smooth palate. (****½)

Montes 2009 Classic Series Cabernet Sauvignon ($12.95) – a nose of blackberry and cherry follows up with those flavours on the palate, a super value for a top notch wine. (****)

Merlot –
Concha Y Toro 2007 Marques de Casa Concha Merlot ($19.95) – smooth chocolate and blackberry, this is the kind of wine I think of when the words “Chile” and “Merlot” come together; almost creamy smooth across the tongue – really juicy and full of fruit. (****½)

Red Blends –
Maipo 2008 Gran Devocion Carmenere-Syrah ($18.95) – menthol, chocolate and blackberry; approachable now. (****½)

San Esteban 2008 In Situ Laguna Del Inca ($24.75) – Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere and Syrah get together to make this tobacco, chocolate and blackberry concoction. (****)

Viu Manent 2008 Viu 1 ($70.00) – big wine for big money, rich supple and succulent with chocolate and red raspberries dominating. (****½)

Santa Alicia Millantu (under $20) – so enthralled with this wine I was that I forgot to write down the year (though I am told it is the current vintage).  Fantastic aromas and flavours; chocolate, dark berry, black cherry and lightly spiced – all for under $20 – unbelievable.  Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Carmenere marry beautifully in bottle and in the glass; if you find it, buy it. (****½)

Carmenere (Chile’s Signature Red Grape) –
Concha Y Toro 2007 Terrunyo Carmenere Single Vineyard ($29.95) – lovely wine with big fruit, lots of power and great chocolate notes. (****½)

Montes 2007 Purple Angel ($49.95) – a real monster with tons of fruit and lots of structure, a beauty of a beast. (****½)

Santa Carolina 2008 Reserva de Familia Carmenere ($17.95) – this one’s all fruit and all flavour and offers great value. (****½)


Dean Tudor said...

No matter how I view it, I cannot read your white wine names -- because of your use of the colour yellow. Could you not try green?

Michael Pinkus - Grape Guy said...

I've changed them to white ... does that help?