Friday, March 11, 2011

Report from ... Argentina and Chile Taste and Buy - March 10. 2011

After all this wine it's Miller Time ... seriously, a beer is what I wanted after sampling all these wines from these two South American powerhouses, Chile and Argentina: rich, fruity, robust, high alcohol ... no wonder these wines are all the rage, they're so dang good and chuggable.  At some point in the middle of the tasting I just wanted to get a full glass, sit in a corner and start speaking Latin American in whatever dialect I was suppose to converse in.

Okay, let's get serious for a second, there were some really good wines being poured, and I took this opportunity to taste the wines not in Vintages or on the General List - I figured I could taste those any day.  No, tonight I was going for those limited edition, pay-50%-down-tonight-get-'em-in-six-months wines;  basically, the ones I may never get to try again, unless I'm invited back next year.

The room was broken down into half Chile (on the left) and Argentina (on the right) - with a divider down the middle called "Wine Discoveries" - here you could learn about certain regions, different grape types, or non-traditional grape varieties (like Torrentes, big there but not here) - I was sad to see no Bonarda station, which is due for its day in the sun - great value wines that have tons of fruit ... oh well maybe next year.

Chile ... (Top Chilean Wines)

Cono Sur keeps impressing and their 2009 Ocio Pinot Noir ($59.95) did just that.  For a hot country Pinot this was amazingly interesting both nose and palate-wise: lovely raspberry note with plenty of spice ... what really stood out was the great spiced finish. (****+)

Montes, another always impressive producer, poured their 2007 Alpha M ($79.00) with lovely mocha, coffee and spice on the nose followed by chocolate, black currant and a long spicy finish.  This one needs some time to open up more fully, but she`s a beauty already. (****+)

I have a bottle of the 2005 Clos Apalta (by Casa Lapostolle) somewhere in my cellar, I was advised not to even think about it till 2015, which means for now the Casa Lapostolle 2008 Clos Apalta ($114.95) will have to do: spice, chocolate, fig and big black fruit - smooth and delicious. (****)

The Rest of the Best from Chile ...
Concha Y Toro 2008 Terrunyo Vineyard Selection Cabernet Sauvignon ($29.95) - lovely mint and black cherry with a wood spice finish. (****)
Errazuriz 2008 Single Vineyard Syrah ($19.95) - incredibly smooth with its raspberry, cherry, blackberry and hint of spice. (****)
MontGras 2008 Intriga Cabernet Sauvignon ($19.95) - big bouquet of fruit and spice waft up the nose while leaving the same on the palate especially those cinnamon and blackberry bits. (****)

Argentina ... (Top Argentine Wines)

While many of the Chilean producers previously mentioned are household names, the Argentinean ones were quite foreign, but should soon be on everyone lips.  Like who is Dominio del Plata?  Well they made the best wine of the night (Susana Balbo - winemaker and owner) with the 2007 Benmarco Expresivo ($34.95), a blend of Malbec, Bonarda, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tannat.  Expresivo is a good name for it, while the nose seemed bi-dimensional: blackberry and spice - the palate expressed all the goods, creamy smoothness with milk chocolate, cherries and some kick from the tannins and spice ... I finished the night with a glass of this and didn`t spit a drop. (**** 1/2+)

Then there`s the Bodega Colome (who?) with their 2007 Estate Reserve Malbec ($84.95), this puppy had chocolate mocha from beginning to end ... I have a sweet tooth so that kinda flavour and smell really appeals to me, but it had more than just that to appeal to other tastes too. (**** 1/2)

Now Kaiken, while not a household name, has been in the market for some time, their Malbec is a Vintages Essential for good reason ($14.95 and worth it).  Their 2007 Mai ($89.95), also 100% Malbec, is a step way up, complexity up the ying-yang with minty notes, a mix of red and black fruit, vanilla, and chocolate ... the palate seems a little tight at the moment, you really have to work at getting the pepper, chocolate and black cherry - but it`s worth the effort - given time this one`ll come around nicely. (**** 1/2)

The Rest of the Best from Argentina ...

Graffigna 2008 Santiago ($34.95) - blends Malbec with Cabernet Sauvigon and Shiraz and delivers a flair of flavour on the tongue: raspberry steeped in cassis with vanilla extract. (****)
Catena Zapata 2008 Alta Chardonnay ($39.95) - known more for Malbecs and Cabs this winery delivered the goods with this powerful yet elegant Chardonnay: fruit, butter, vanilla cream - smooth and delicious (****)

Discoveries from Both Sides of the Andes ...
Zuccardi brought a 2004 Q Malbec (Argentina) from his personal cellar, just to prove Malbec can age well ... this was woody with black currant notes and a spiced wood finish ... no marks given but for academic purposes this was a very educational and interesting wine to taste.

Gewurztraminer fans should check out the Tilia Torrentes ($12.95 - Argentina) found on the General List; it`s floral dominant and good value.

Concha Y Toro 2008 Marques de Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon ($19.95 - Chile) is worth picking up for its delicious mint, blackberry and black cherry on both nose and palate.  Stock up for summer as it`s 2 bucks off ($17.95) till the end of the month (March)

And finally, the just released Vina Leyda 2009 Las Brisa Vineyard Pinot Noir ($16.95 - Chile) is a forgotten gem from the March 5 release - high toned fruit with wonderful raspberry notes, smells just scream out of the glass and continue onto the palate ... worth discovering at that price.


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Tiago said...

Argentinean wine is the best in the worls! Last year I tasted many wines from Mendoza since I had rent apartment in buenos aires in a business trip.
I love even more than French wines, in fact even Argentinean Champagne is better. haha