Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Chilean Wine Bows At Brazilian Steakhouse

Media wine dinners - at least the ones I've been to - are usually on the small and somewhat boring side.  The VIK dinner at Fogo de Chao in Beverly Hills was a party, a shindig, a gathering of dozens of people large enough to take up an entire half of the restaurant.  And, it's not like I personally know everyone in L.A. who taps out words on wine, but I didn't see a single soul there that I knew.  It was like I walked into the biggest after-work party at the most popular bar in town.

VIK Winery - they pronounce it Veek - is a Chilean wine producer which is partnering with the Brazilian steakhouse chain to carry their line.  Fogo already boasts that 60% of their wine list comes from South America, so this partnership will likely tip that number even higher.

VIK employs a holistic approach to wine, in which they say the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  That sounds like fuzzy math, but I suppose Aristotle thought up the concept more as a philosophical thing, maybe after a night of heavy wine consumption.  The idea works, of course, because all that plays into making a bottle of wine - grapes, weather, soil, altitude, winery condition, etc - contribute to what the wine is.  Wouldn't you rather have the wine than just the weather?

The CEO of VIK, Gaston Williams, was on hand to describe the wines and show off the beautiful images of the property in central Chile, north of the Rapel Valley.  The winery has 11,000 acres among the vines and rainforests, and each one seems more gorgeous than the other.  The winery says Norwegian entrepreneur Alexander Vik searched multiple countries for two years with a team of winemakers, climatologists, geologists and agronomists to find the perfect spot for his dream of a world-class winery estate.  VIK was founded in 2006, and winemaker Cristián Vallejo brings together the different parts into the whole that is a great bottle of wine.

The three wines VIK produces all feature Bordeaux grapes - Cabernet Sauvignon, Carménère, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Franc - that are blended in a different mixture each vintage.

Williams called the three styles by human descriptors.  He said La Piu Belle is the lady, Milla Cala is the man and VIK is the cowboy.  La Piu Belle retails for $75 and is their mid-line offering.  It has a beautiful nose of violet, cassis, nutmeg, allspice and vanilla. There's a light touch oak, but it's definitely there.  The palate shows great dark berries, sweet cranberry and blueberry with firm tannins and a great finish tinted by cranberry. To help match up with the descriptor, there is a woman on the label.

Milla Cala - the man - offers a floral nose, too, but lighter and with a bit more oak.  More berries here, with a slightly herbal backbeat on the finish that I found irresistible. The tannins aren’t as forceful, so this is the one if you just want a wine to sip. It has a retail sticker of $39.

VIK - the cowboy - shows more oak and fruit on the nose and turns in a big and bold mouthfeel.  This is the steakhouse wine.  Retail price $140.


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