Showing posts with label Carmenere. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Carmenere. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Red Wines From Chile

Primus was established at a time when the Chilean winemaking vision was rather conservative.  The winery says the name - Primus - means "first of its kind," the first in the nation to blend Cabernet Sauvignon and Carménère.

The Primus winemaker, Sofía Araya, was born, raised and schooled in Chile.  The winery reports that she is a perfect fit for their organic program, and that she knows well how to make wines which have a sense of place.  Agricultural manager José Aguirre directed the migration to organic farming for all three of the Primus estates - Casablanca, Apalta and Marchigüe.  The Primus wines are imported in the U.S. by Gonzalez Byass.


Primus Apalta Carménère
2018

The Apalta Vineyard is in Colchagua, where the hundred-year-old vines grow on the terraced shores of the Tinguiririca River.  The wine was aged in French oak, one-fifth of which was new.  Alcohol hits 14% abv and it sells for around $15.

This wine has a fragrant nose of cassis, blackberry and licorice.  A hint of black pepper also comes through.  On the palate a large serving of dark fruit hits first, with sweet oak spice and a savory note of earth.  The tannins are easy enough on the mouthfeel, but firm enough to serve a purpose at the table.  The savory aspect lingers on the generous finish. 


Primus Maipo Cabernet Sauvignon
2017

From the Maipo Valley, these grapes grew along the terraced shores of the Maipo River, in the foothills of the Andes Mountains.  Alcohol reaches 13.5% abv and the wine sells for around $17.

This Chilean Cab has an earthy, rustic nose full of dark berries, leather and sage.  The palate shows the blackberry up front and leaves an herbal trail along the lengthy finish.  The tannins are firm, but not raspy and the acidity is vibrant enough to promote plenty of lip-smacking.  Fans of Napa Cabs might not be wowed by this one, but if you like the Cabs of Paso Robles, you may find a friend in this bottle.


Primus Apalta The Blend
2017

Back now to Apalta for a blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Carménère, 10% Petit Verdot, 5% Merlot, 5% Syrah and 5% Cabernet Franc.  Alcohol stands at 14% abv and the retail sticker shows about $17.

This six-grape blend is as aromatic as one might expect from Carménère, PV, Merlot, Syrah and Cabs Franc and Sauvignon.  There is much dark fruit on the nose, along with cigar box, leather, cedar and licorice.  The palate is bold, too, with a complex flavor profile and tannins which are useful but not overpowering.  


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Monday, September 14, 2020

Chilean Carmenere Wine

A virtual wine tasting event happened online in September 2020, and featured Chile's TerraNoble Wines.  The Zoom get-together featured TerraNoble winemaker Marcelo Garcia and showcased the different styles the winery makes from the Carménère grape.  Wines grown in the Colchagua & Maule Valleys describe the differences between coastal and mountain Carmenere.

Through a translator, Garcia explained that  after 25 years, TerraNoble Carménère has progressed from wines that were typified by green notes, to overripe, to toasted notes, to today's fresh fruit forward style with juicy acidity.  He credited the winery's constant learning about Carménère as having brought the wines to where they are today.

Started in the Maule Valley, the San Clemente estate vineyard was planted in 1994.  Now the vineyards are sustainable and vegan certified.  First up in the tasting were two examples of Carménère grown in the Colchagua Valley, in the warm foothills of the Andes Mountains.


CA 1 Andes Colchagua Valley Carménère
2016

This one was aged for 14 months in 85% used barrels and 15% untoasted foudres.  Alcohol tips 14% abv and the wine retails for $25.

This dark wine offers a nose of black fruit and cassis, painted with cedar, clove and cinnamon.  The very expressive aromas put me in mind of the holidays.  The palate is alive with the dark berry notes and oak spice, and a monstrous set of tannins that need some decant time to soften.  Don’t worry, the wine will still handle any steak you put in front of it.


CA 1 Andes Colchagua Valley Carménère
2017

Aged for 14 months in 80% used barrels and 20% untoasted foudres, this wine touches 14.1% abv and sells for $25.

The notes on the 2016 CA 1 apply here as well.  This is a wild wine, full of aromas and flavors, brimming with tannins, ready to rumble.  


CA 2 Carménère Costa
2017

Grown in the coastal mountain range of Chile's Colchagua Valley, this CA 2 wine demonstrates the coastal version of Carménère.  It was aged for 14 months in 80% used barrels and 20% untoasted foudres.  Alcohol noses up to 14.3% abv and the retail price is $25.

The nose on this version of TerraNoble’s Carménère hits more bright red and blue notes than the two I tried previously.  The palate is a lot calmer, too, although the tannins hold their own.  It's a more user-friendly Carménère, and more fun to drink on its own.


TerraNoble Gran Reserva Carménère
 2017

Aging for 12 months in 75% used French oak barrels and 25% untoasted foudres, this wine has alcohol at 14% abv and it sells for $19.

This Carménère shows a world of difference from the others in the TerraNoble line I’ve been trying.  There is a boatload of dark fruit, to be sure, with black cherry getting into the act.  The tannins are more reserved upon pouring while the acidity remains bright and juicy.  It's an excellent example of Chilean Carménère.


TerraNoble Gran Reserva Carignan
2018

This Carignan was made from an old vineyard - planted in 1958 - in a hotter climate, yet still close to the ocean in the Maule Valley.

Aged for 10-12 months, half in concrete eggs called Dolia, half in untoasted foudres, alcohol hits only 13.8% abv and retail is $19.

This inky wine has a slightly medicinal nose, with blackberry and tar notes.  The tannins are forceful to a fault upon opening.  Let it sit awhile and allow them to be less inflamed.  The fruit is fairly forefront, possibly due to the aging of half the wine in concrete eggs.  The savory finish is quite long and satisfying. 



Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Chilean Carménère Wine - Coastal and Mountain

A virtual wine tasting event is planned for this week (September, 10, 2020) featuring Chile's TerraNoble Wines.  The Zoom get-together promises to feature TerraNoble winemaker Marcelo Garcia and showcase the different styles the winery makes from the Carménère grape.  Wines grown in the Colchagua & Maule valleys will describe the differences between coastal and mountain Carmenere.

I took the opportunity to get the jump on the event by cracking open a couple of the wines a bit early.  Both are examples of Carménère grown in the Colchagua Valley, in the warm foothills of the Andes Mountains.  Both of these wines sit at 14% alcohol by volume, and both sell for about $25. 

CA 1 Andes Colchagua Valley Carménère 2016

This dark wine offers a nose of black fruit and cassis, painted with cedar, clove and cinnamon.  The very expressive aromas put me in mind of the holidays.  The palate is alive with the dark berry notes and oak spice, and a monstrous set of tannins that need some decant time to soften.  Don't worry, the wine will still handle any steak you put in front of it.


CA 1 Andes Colchagua Valley Carménère
2017

The notes on the 2016 CA 1 apply here as well.  This is a wild wine, full of aromas and flavors, brimming with tannins, ready to rumble.  


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Monday, August 31, 2020

Four Chilean Wines That Play Rough


The Viña Ventisquero Grey line of wines is the expression of a single block of vines from different growing areas in Chile.  Ventisquero has vineyards in the Coastal Maipo, Casablanca, Colchagua, Leyda and Huasco valleys.  Head winemaker Felipe Tosso takes his craft seriously, comparing the creation of a wine to the raising of a child.  He says, "it's just like being a father. You give birth to a son, you raise and mold him so he can follow his destiny."

In addition to the wine samples, I was given tips on which Chilean music to pair with the various wines.  I have included Spotify links to the suggested Ventisquero selections.


Ventisquero Grey GCM
2017

The Ventisquero Grey GCM wine is a traditional blend of 62% Garnacha, 19% Cariñena and 19% Mataro grapes from the Valle de Colchagua's Apalta area, the terraced, hillside Roblería Vineyard.  You may know Mataro better as Monastrell or Mourvedre.  The soil is poor - good for grapevines - made up of clay and lots of stones.  2017 was a hot year, so the grapes ripened  earlier than usual.  The wine was aged for six months in neutral French oak barrels, stands at 14% abv and retails for $23.  The winery says the Grey GCM wine is "complex, like the music of Chilean artist Nano Stern, which stands at the crossroads of various influences and genres such as rock, folk, fusion and trova."

This wine is medium dark in color and in just about everything else.  Wonderfully dark.  The nose is black fruit, savory tar, a meaty kind of note and some light oak tones.  The palate allows the savory aspects a little more room to move.  There is a lip-smacking acidity; the tannins are firm.  I tried mine with smoked pork belly and some apple smoked Gouda, with great results.

Song pairing: Carnavalito del Ciempés by Nano Stern


Ventisquero Grey Cabernet Sauvignon
2014

This wine comes from Block 38 of Ventisquero’s Trinidad Vineyard in the coastal Maipo Valley.  The winery refers to this Cab as "non-traditional," and it does seem to me to be more rustic than elegant.  The 93% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are joined by 4% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc.  Growing in the 2014 vintage was marked by a typical summer featuring moderate temperatures and no rain.  The wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks, then aging took place over 18 months in French oak barrels, one-third new - and another eight months in the bottle.  Alcohol sits at a restrained 13.5% abv and the wine sells for around $20.

This wine is dark and savory.  The black fruit comes along with cedar, vanilla and a chalky earth tone.  It is nothing like Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, but more in line with Paso Robles.  Lots of South American minerals are having a bit of roughhouse here.

Ventisquero likes to pair their Grey Cab with Violeta Parra, one of the most iconic Chilean artists.  Like the wine, they say she is "classic yet surprising, elegant and inspiring."

Song pairing: Gracias a la Vida by Violeta Parra 


Ventisquero Grey Carménère
2017

This red wine is made of Carmenere grapes, grown in the Trinidad Vineyard in Chile's coastal Maipo Valley.  Chile reportedly has the largest vineyard area planted with Carmenere, the country's flagship grape.  Only half of the grapes were crushed for fermentation.  The wine was aged for 18 months in French oak barrels - one-third new and two-thirds second and third use - where malolactic fermentation took place.  Alcohol in just 13.5% abv and the retails price is $22.

This is a beautiful Carménère, all earthy and full of savory minerality.  The blackberry and black plum aromas creep through the smell of that dirt with tar, forest floor and tobacco all over them.  A hint of vanilla sweetens the sniff a bit.  On the palate, the dark fruit is draped in sweet oak spice, and you'll find a bucketful of tannins until the glass has been sitting for awhile.  This is a steak wine, intended for a big, juicy piece of beef.

Just as this grape is iconic to Chile, the winery says Cueca music is essential to Chilean culture as the country’s national dance and music.  

Song pairing: Yo Vendo Unos Ojos Negros by Los Huasos Quincheros 


Ventisquero Grey Pinot Noir
2017

The Grey Pinot Noir is a complex wine which the winery says is typical of the Leyda Valley, a growing area known for excellent acidity and mineral notes.  The Las Terrazas Vineyard's soil starts off with a bit of red granitic clay, and gets rockier the deeper the roots reach.  The fairly warm 2017 vintage prompted the pickers to collect the grapes a little earlier than usual.  Fermentation took place in steel tanks, while aging took a full year in French oak barrels, 15% of them were new, 30% second-use and 55% third-use.  

This Chilean Pinot Noir offers a nose that is heavy with cola, black tea and coffee grounds.  The savory aromas actually outweigh the fruit.  It is a medium-weight wine, not very deeply tinted, and it rides light on the palate.  The acidity is brisk and the tannins firm.  This is not a Burgundian take on the grape, for certain.  It is more playful than elegant, more rustic than beautiful.

Pair this delicate grape with Francisca Valenzuela's music, whose slow yet powerful songs are as vibrant as the Grey Pinot Noir. 

Song pairing: Ya No Se Trata de Ti by Francisca Valenzuela 


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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Gambero Rosso Italian Wine Master Class: Part Two

Virtual wine tasting events are no stranger to me, especially in the era of COVID-19.  Get the box, open the box, log on and taste from home.  No social distancing to strain the process, no mask needed.  I was invited to take part in a Zoom gathering recently along with two dozen other wine writers.  The event was called the Tre Bicchieri Web Show, which featured twelve different Italian wines from various producers.  My shipment was delayed several times - it came from Italy, after all - so I didn't get to take part in real time, but the box finally arrived and I was finally able to taste the wines inside.

The Tre Bicchieri Web Show was presented by Gambero Rosso, a Rome-based Italian wine and food magazine that was founded in 1986.  It was their first-ever Master Class, which indicates that there are more planned.

The interactive event was hosted by Lorenzo Ruggeri, the wine guide's international editor, with comments along the two-hour journey from each winery's representative.  This is the second installment on Now And Zin Wine to feature the wines that were tasted.  We started with four amazing white wines and now move on to four of the eight reds included in the assortment.

Velenosi Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Prope 2017 

Ercole Velenosi and Angiolina Piotti established Velenosi in 1984 in Ascoli Piceno, in the Marche region.  They now make Abruzzo wines in Controguerra, to the east and across the border to the south.  The first vintage from that outpost was in 2005.  Angela Velenosi now sits on the board, while Filippo Carli and Luca Fioravanti work in the cellar.

Prope is made completely from Montepulciano d’Abruzzo grapes, grown in gravelly clay soil.  They are destemmed and placed in stainless steel tanks for vinification, which could last as long as a month.  Then, the wine is transferred into large barrels for 12 months of aging.  Alcohol is 14% abv and the retail sticker should be around $15 when it is available in the U.S. market.

This wine is tinted medium dark ruby and shows purple around the rim.  It smells of bright, ripe cherries and strawberries.  There is not a big influence of oak.  The palate is nice and fresh, with fruit in the forefront and a gentle acidity.  The tannins are easy-going enough for gulping, but the wine does pair well with tandoori lamb from my favorite Indian restaurant.  Ruggeri noted the flavor of dried fruit and meatiness at the end of the sip.

Conte Leopardi Dittajuti Conero Pigmento Riserva 2016 

The Count Leopardi winery is in Numana, Marche, on Italy's Adriatic coast.  The estate is owned by the Leopardi Dittajuti family and has been for some 15 centuries.  Back then, one of the Leopardis was made a bishop, then killed by pagans, then made a saint.  Today, Piervittorio Leopardi is dedicated to the beautiful area, the forests, the limestone massif, and to Montepulciano, Conero's traditional grape, which has been vinified by Leopardi for nearly forty years.  The vineyards between Numana and Sirolo are rich in limestone and marl and cooled by the Adriatic Sea.  

Leopardi's Pigmento Riserva was made by winemaker Riccardo Cotarella, completely from Montepulciano grapes.  The fruit was late-harvested - in the end of October and early November - a roll of the dice that dared the fates to bring damaging rains.  He lucked out.  Leopardi says this elegant, full-bodied, well-balanced Riserva wine has great structure, good concentration and smooth, consistent tannins.  Alcohol tips 14% abv and the price tag reads $38.

As the name implies, this wine is very dark colored - hardly any light gets through.  The nose is complex and lively - black cherry, cassis, vanilla, cedar.  On the palate, a bit of licorice joins the fruit profile.  Acidity is brisk, but not racy.  Tannins are firm, but not toothy.  I would like a sausage or pork chop with it, but I would settle for a salami.

Giordano Emo Capodilista - La Montecchia Colli Euganei Cabernet Sauvignon Ireneo 2016 

Giordano Emo Capodilista's estate is located in Veneto, in the Euganean regional park.  The vineyards lie in the northern part of the area - in the almost Alpine territory of Selvazzano.  More recent acquisitions are in the volcanic hills to the extreme south - in the more Mediterranean area of Baone.  The two sites are not that far apart - only about six miles - but they feature very different terroir.  The grapes that make up Irenèo are 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, grown along the slopes of Monte Castello, while the 6% Merlot and 4% Carmenère came from the area around Villa Emo Capodilista.  The wine was aged for a year in barrique barrels, then six months in the bottle.  Alcohol hits 14% abv and the retail price is $30.

This Italian Cab has a bit of Merlot and Carmenère mixed in.  The color is medium dark garnet with a bit of bricking around the edge.  Aromas of blackberry are joined by the smell of minerals and a whiff of smoke.  The palate has a chalky note to it - the owner referred to the wine in his presentation as "salty."  The tannins are manageable and the acidity is middle-of-the-road.  The wine really puts me in mind of Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles, not Napa.  I paired the wine successfully with grilled kielbasa and charred Brussels sprouts.

De Stefani Colli di Conegliano Rosso Stefen 1624 2015 120 USD

Still in Veneto, up north in Piave, owner and winemaker Alessandro di Stefani steered away from the so-called easy money of Prosecco in favor of still wines with character.  The results should make everyone glad he made that choice.

The 2015 De Stefani Colli di Conegliano Rosso Stefen 1624 was made from 100% Marzemino grapes grown in clay soil which is mixed with minerals from the Southern Limestone Alps, the Dolomite Mountains.  Marzemino is said to have been Mozart's favorite wine grape, and that is completely understandable.  The single-vineyard grapes were destemmed and slowly fermented on the skins up to a point, when the juice was put into oak barriques, where it stayed for three years.  Aging continued in the bottle for 18 months before release.  Alcohol checks in at a lofty 15.5% abv.  Depending on the vintage, it can be as high as 17.5% alcohol.  The sticker price is up there as well, at $120.  

This wine is deep, dark and delicious.  The nose opens with a whiff of smoke, which leads to aromas of dried cherry, cedar and pipe tobacco.  The palate shows a nice mix of fruit and savory - the cherry flavor finds a black raspberry partner.  Firm tannins and bright acidity make it dance on the tongue.


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Friday, November 13, 2015

Tasting Wines From South America

A tasting event staged by Ian Blackburn's WineLA.com gave Los Angeles wine tasters a chance to broaden their palates with some very nice wines from South America. Due a large number of South American wine events held in other US cities during that week, the turnout was smaller than usual for a Blackburn event. Those who made it to L.A. represented their continent well, though. Argentina and Chile were the mainstays, but I also had the chance to sample some Brazilian wines at this event.

Some of the highlights:

Carmen

Gran Reserva Carmenere, Maipo 2012 - There are some very tasty, savory notes among the cherry and strawberry flavors, with plenty of minerals on the side. Minerality was a recurring theme throughout the represented wineries.

Doña Paula

Estate Black Edition, Argentina 2013 - Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Petit Verdot star in this wine. The nose features a beautiful perfume of bright cherry with mineral-driven cherry on the palate.

Los Andes

This small production winery utilizing natural and biodynamic methods is run with an iron fist. Reps told me they have to "yell at the winemaker to make him use sulfur dioxide," which the sales folk like since the wines are shipped to Southern California.

Bucalemu Riesling, Chile 2013 - A great petrol note on the nose and palate, with a wonderful display of earthiness.

Mi Terruño Winery and Vineyards
Female winemaker Maria Eugenia Baigorria, one of several in the event, produces small lots of an incredible Malbec.

Mayacaba Malbec, Argentina 2009 - The grapes come from 100-year old vines, and they make an elegant mix of cherry and minerality.

Bonarda 2013 - There is a beautiful set of aromas here. Violets perfume the nose, bright cherry lifts the palate. Bonarda is my favorite Argentine grape.

Montes

Spring Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2015 - This is their effort at having the first release on the harvest. They think they accomplished that. It has a fresh, grassy nose and an extremely herbal palate with easy acidity.

Santa Carolina Winery

Reserva Pinot Noir, Leyda Valley, Chile 2014 - really complex, with leather on the nose and a great mellow mouthfeel. The wine is dark and delicious, full of the earth.

Reserva De Famiglia Carmenere, Valle de Rapel, Chile 2012 - Earth and tobacco notes on the nose all but cover the cherry fruit, while the palate is dark and mysterious.

Susana Balbo Winery

Susana Balbo Signature Barrel-Fermented Torrontés, Argentina 2014 - A lovely, sweet, floral nose and a palate that surprises with its mineral aspect.

Nosostros Malbec, Agrelo, Argentina 2010 - From 17 vineyard sites, this 100% Malbec was the best of that variety at the event, and there were plenty from which to choose. The nose comes on like a port, with a dark palate showing cherry and black cherry with a beautiful acidity.

Vinicola Perini

The Brazilian entry poured some tasty, if uncomplicated wines - a Moscato, a Merlot and a Tannat.

Macaw Tannat, Vale Trentino, Farroupilha, Brazil 2013 - This wine was much lighter than I would expect of Tannat. Ruby red color was abetted by a bright cherry nose and palate. Very young - would be great with a chill.

Looking for representation:

Lopez

2004 BDX blend - It's old world - they keep the wine in the winery ten years, seven in oak and three - at least - in the bottle. Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Merlot are the grapes. The wine has a brick color, a savory cherry nose and earthy fruit with great oak notes on the palate.

DiamAndes

Perlita Chardonnay 2013 - 100% Chardonnay grapes from the estate vineyard. The nose shows pear, peach and lime with a savory salinity on the palate. Argentina.

Costaflores

This Argentine winery is already on the East Coast, but is looking for west coast rep.

MTB Mike Tango Bravo Red 2012
Single vineyard: 55% Malbec, 35% Petit Verdot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Big fruity nose with a lively bright cherry palate.

MTB Mike Tango Bravo Torrontés 2014

100% Torrontés, from Mendoza - usually Torontés is from the north of the country. A sweet nose shows a grassy fruitiness, with savory citrus on the palate.


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Thursday, March 10, 2011

WINE COUNTRY: IDAHO

When you think of wine from the Northwest, Idaho probably doesn't come to mind first.  The Idaho Grape Growers and Wine Producers Commission thinks it should.  They report that the first grape plantings in Idaho date back to 1864, before Washington and Oregon.  As is the case in many areas around the U.S., Idaho's wine industry was practically booming when Prohibition shut it down.  It would be 1970 before Idaho grapes were again planted.

The region that took off first in Idaho's wine rebirth was the Snake River Valley, in the southern part of the state.  That region became an official American Viticultural Area in 2007. The Snake River Valley's cold winters allow grape vines to go dormant, which is a benefit come growing season.  It doesn't rain all that much there, either, and that helps control rot.  The warm days and cool nights during summer are not unlike some of California's great growing regions.  Temperatures swinging as much as 40 degrees between day and night are the norm.  Idaho's well-drained volcanic soil is similar to that of Washington, with even higher elevations for vineyards - as high as 3,000 feet.  All this means you can expect concentrated flavors and naturally high acidity in Idaho wines.

Sawtooth Winery was founded as Pintler Cellars in 1987, changing names in 1998.  Their Sawtooth Vineyard is one of Idaho's warmer growing sites, and is planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Merlot, Roussanne and Pinot Gris.  The Skyline Vineyard encompasses slopes facing in all directions and the cooler parts are home to grapes that like a cooler climate, like Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling.  Sawtooth Winery is a member of the Rhone Rangers.

Sawtooth CarmenereSawtooth Winery Reserve Carmenénère 2009

Sawtooth's '09 Carménère is labeled as a Snake River Valley wine, with grapes coming from both the Sawtooth and Skyline Vineyards.  The wine is 80% Carménère and 20% Malbec.  It sports an alcohol level of a moderate 13.5% abv.  108 cases were produced.

The Carménère is medium-dark violet in color, and the nose bursts with aromas: dark fruit, cherry and raspberry, a bit of tar and a pipe tobacco note.  The palate shows dark fruit, plums, anise and the whole bottom row of the spice rack.  The spiciness plays on forever on the finish.  There’s also something in the taste that reminds me of pine trees.

You'll find it benefits from a bit of decanting, but it’s not harsh upon opening.  The tannins are definitely present, but the wine is quite smooth going down.  Moderate acidity and very nice minerality make this a good choice for the dinner table.  It's a natural to pair with a skirt steak or pork chop grilled over a rosemary fire.

Sawtooth RieslingSawtooth Estate Winery Riesling 2009

Another Snake River Valley wine made from grapes grown in both the Sawtooth and Skyline Vineyards, the Sawtooth Riesling is abetted by 5% Muscat grapes.  With alcohol at only 12.3% abv and 2% residual sugar, this wine is very easy to drink.  Sweet orange on the nose and flavors of green apples and honeydew are simply beautiful, with a smooth mouthfeel and a refreshing acidity that concentrates on the finish.  I tried it with Castelvetrano olives and loved the match.  It should fit well with grain-based or pasta salads and almonds or pecans, too.


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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

LUIS FELIPE EDWARDS ROSA BLANCA AT SOUTH POINT


Luis Felipe Edwards Rosa Blanco

The food is great at South Point Argentine Grill on Sunset Boulevard, and Mrs. Now And Zin loves it, so we dine there quite often.  The half chicken with rice is fabulous, the Patagonia salad is great and their sausage is to die for.  I have issues, however, with the way they serve red wine.  In the glass, it's often almost warm to the touch, and that's too warm.  To quote my friend, Art, "When you serve wine at room temperature, the room should be a cave, not the kitchen."  I'm sure you agree.
So c’mon South Point, get the wine right!  And while you're at it, straighten out the music.  South American folk one time, classic rock the next, blaring ranchera on this visit - I'd like to know what to expect when I come to your restaurant.
On our most recent visit, once again I was served a wine that seemed on its way to mulled status.  It was Luis Felipe Edwards Rosa Blanca Organic.  Fortunately, this Chilean wine from the Colchagua Valley did not suffer as much as some others I have had there.  It's essentially a Cabernet Sauvignon, with a bit Carmenere added.  Both grapes come from the same vineyard, one that sits next to a bed of white roses.  That's the origin of the name.
In the glass, a dark purple core only lightens a bit at the edge.  The nose gave away a lot of alcohol early, but that settled down after ten minutes or so.  The fruit rides in the front seat and waves at you when it passes by.  Aromas of dark berries and plums are foremost in the bouquet, while the plums come through strongly on the palate, along with a leathery flavor.  There isn't a lot of graphite or smoke discernable to me, which I found mildly surprising.  The somewhat short finish is the only drawback.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Reserve Carmenere

Chile has been in my thoughts.  First, there is the massive earthquake on February 26, 2010.  Here's wishing the best for those affected by the disaster.  Second, a dear friend of ours, David Stanley, has been traveling in South America.  As soon as we heard about the quake, Denise and I thought of him.  We had just read his journal accounts of the great time he has been having  while living in Santiago for a couple of months, and of an ice-walking trip to Patagonia.  His travel blog makes for a wonderful read, by the way.

Anyway, a quick call to his mother confirmed that he was already safely in Buenos Aires.  Whew.  Relief turned to more consternation, though, as we thought about all the wonderful friends he had made in Chile.  We hope they are alright.  Also, as I tried to link up the Concha y Toro website, I was informed that the link appeared to be broken, or that the server was down.  I understand from a post on the Dr. Vino blog that a lot of damage has been incurred in the Rapel area.  Our thoughts are with the people of Chile.

Inspired, I dug around a bit and found some notes I had made about a bottle of Chilean Carmenere by Concha y Toro.  This is probably from about a year or so ago.

"From the "Cellar of the Devil", eh?  Well, the Casillero del Diablo is supposedly where Don Melchor de Concha y Toro kept his best wines stashed 100 years ago.  This wine is from the Rapel Valley, south of Santiago, and on the label the winemaker promises "chocolate, coffee and spice combined with raspberries and blackberries."  It sports a 13.5% abv number and it pours up dark and inky in the glass.

"The nose features Very dark fruit, and a promise of some intense minerals.  It's a powerful aroma of blackberries and maybe some licorice. Very nice.

"Let it sit about 10 minutes after pouring.  This is a very intense wine, full of spices - clove, a little cinnamon, pepper - and a strong sense of the earth.  Not a meek or mild wine, this Carmenere is brash and sinister.  Good tannins and ripe fruit are prominent with the cholcolately flavors underneath.  I don't really get the coffee that was promised, but that's okay.  There's enough here to prevent me from complaining.  It does go great with a piece of chocolate and it complemented a dish of blackened bar-b-q beans very nicely.  I would imagine it goes well with any sort of meat, particularly game."