Showing posts with label Chile. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chile. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Big Red Wine From Chile

Primus claims to be the first of its kind, a marriage of Cabernet Sauvignon and Carménère, the two main red grapes of Chile.  The winemaking team at Primus have every right to be proud of their work.  Winemaker Sofía Araya and Agriculture Manager José Aguirre helped to transition Primus into an all-organic winery.

The 2018 vintage of Primus The Blend was made from five different grape varieties, all grown in Apalta, in Chile's Colchagua Valley.  The mix is 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Carménère, 10% Syrah, 10 % Petit Verdot and 5% Cabernet Franc.  The vintage featured a rainy winter and a temperate summer, allowing for a good, long growing season.  The wine was aged twelve months in French oak, two-thirds of it in barrels and one-third in big vats.  Alcohol hits only 13.5% abv while the retail price is a mere $19.

The blend pours up to a medium-dark garnet color.  Aromas of cassis, tobacco and spice are up front on the nose, with a hint of bell pepper in the background.  The fruit is juicy on the palate, with jammy black and red berries and a stout set of tannins.  This wine was made for steak, the bigger the better. 


Follow Randy Fuller on Twitter


Wednesday, November 10, 2021

A Bargain Wine From Chile

Veramonte Winery is located in Chile's Casablanca Valley, but over the years they have expanded with vineyards also in the Colchagua Valley.  Casablanca is a great locale for white wines and cool-climate reds, while the Colchagua Valley is warmer.  The winery follows organic practices and has a certificate stating so.  Their importer, Gonzalez Byass, says Veramonte's farming is free of pesticides, herbicides and synthetic fertilizer.  The feeling among the Veramonte staff is that living, balanced soil makes quality grapes.

Veramonte Cabernet Sauvignon Colchagua Valley Reserva 2019

The 2019 Veramonte Cabernet Sauvignon is made from 100% Cabernet grapes, then aged in neutral oak for eight months.  The vintage had scarce precipitation, but the winery chiefs seem happy with it nonetheless.  Alcohol tips 14% abv and the wine retails for $12.

This wine looks medium-dark in the glass, a deep ruby color.  The nose is rather rustic, especially for a Cab.  That quality could possibly be due to a limited time in oak, for a Cabernet, only eight months.  There is currant in there, along with bramble and a strong minerality.  The palate is on the rough’n’tumble side, with dark berry flavors  and earthiness showing.  The finish lingers and brings the savory side back for a revisit. 


Monday, November 1, 2021

Chilean Wine - Ritual Pinot Noir

Ritual Wines is located in the far eastern end of Chile's Casablanca Valley, around the midpoint of that long strip of a country along South America's western edge.  The coastal mountain range gives a dramatic backdrop to the vineyards, which are cooled by the breezes from the Pacific Ocean.  Pinot Noir grapes are grown in the coolest parts of the vineyards.

The 2017 Ritual Casablanca Valley Pinot Noir sat for 11 months in French oak barrels, watched over by winemaker Sofia Araya, who allowed an alcohol level of 13.5% abv.  Retail is $19.

When I tried the 2015 vintage a couple of years ago, I noted that the nose was savory and funky, with tea leaves and coffee grounds.  The palate was a walk on the dark side, too - full and wild and raw.

The 2017 has a medium ruby tint to it.  The tea and coffee notes are still there on the nose, but not as strongly.  It is savory, but not funky this time around.  The black raspberry fruit has a chance to shine.  The palate is dark and a bit brawny, with enough tannins for pot roast or pork chops.  The wine finishes long and savory, with that dark fruit trailing at the end.


Thursday, April 15, 2021

A Pair of Organic Wines From Chile

Veramonte Winery is located in Chile's Casablanca Valley, but over the years they have expanded with vineyards also in the Colchagua Valley.  Casablanca is a great locale for white wines and cool-climate reds, while the Colchagua Valley is warmer.  The winery follows organic practices and has a certification stating so.  Their importer, Gonzalez Byass, says Veramonte's farming is free of pesticides, herbicides and synthetic fertilizer.  The feeling among the Veramonte staff is that living, balanced soil makes quality grapes.

Veramonte Organic Sauvignon Blanc 2020 

This organic wine was made from Casablanca Valley grapes.  They were pressed into steel tanks where vinification took place.  The juice was separated from the lees during this process.  The vintage wasn’t easy, owing to a hot summer and a dry winter.  It is all Sauvignon Blanc, with a 13.5% abv alcohol level and a retail price of $12.

This wine has a New World feel to it, to be sure.  The nose is a little bit herbal, a little bit floral and a little bit grapefruity.  On the palate, the citrus aspect takes center stage, with a spicy element and a racy acidity.  Grapefruit lingers on the finish.  Pairing this wine with salads and shellfish is a natural, but it could certainly stand up to a piece of baked chicken.


Veramonte Organic Cabernet Sauvignon
2018,

The winery says that the 2018 vintage in the Colchagua Valley was "exceptional," with a rainy winter and a moderate summer.  The 2018 Organic Cabernet Sauvignon is a 100% varietal wine.  It was vinified in steel tanks, then aged for eight months in neutral oak barrels.  Alcohol content is 14% abv and the retail price is only $12, a steal for a wine this fresh and juicy.

This wine is ripe and beautiful - dark, with a nose of blackberries, cassis and violets.  There is a hint of tobacco and spice there as well, a tribute to the perfectly finessed aging.  The palate explodes on the tongue with dark fruit, vanilla and herbs.  The fruit is the story, but don't sell complexity short.  It offers a lot to ruminate on while you sip.  


Follow Randy Fuller on Twitter

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.  


Follow Randy Fuller on Twitter


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.  


Follow Randy Fuller on Twitter


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 


Follow Randy Fuller on Twitter



Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Sauvignon Blanc: Cat Pee And Green Beans

Kalfu‌ ‌means‌ ‌blue‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌language‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌Mapuche,‌ ‌the‌ ‌indigenous‌ ‌people‌ ‌of‌ ‌Chile.‌  ‌It's‌ ‌a‌ ‌reference‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌Pacific‌ ‌Ocean‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌west,‌ ‌which‌ ‌establishes‌ ‌the‌ ‌cool‌ ‌climate,‌ ‌the‌ ‌breezes‌ ‌and‌ ‌the‌ ‌fog‌ ‌which ‌allow‌ ‌the‌ ‌grapes‌ ‌to‌ ‌ripen‌ ‌steadily‌ ‌for‌ ‌the‌ ‌creation‌ ‌of‌ ‌a‌ ‌balanced‌ ‌wine.‌  ‌The‌ ‌winery‌ ‌
urges‌ ‌its‌ ‌friends‌ ‌to‌ ‌feel‌ ‌the‌ ‌ocean's‌ ‌strength‌ ‌and‌ ‌freshness‌ ‌in‌ ‌their‌ ‌wines.‌

The 2018 Kalfu Kuda Sauvignon Blanc is made from 100% Leyda Valley Sauvignon Blanc grapes, grown in the granitic clay soil of the Las Terrazas Vineyard.  Stainless steel tanks were used in making the wine, and the juice sat on its spent yeast cells for three months in the process.  Alcohol hits 12.5% abv and the wine sells for $19.

There is an herbal quality in this wine which stops just short of the proverbial cat pee made famous in some New World Sauvignon Blancs.  The nose borders on it, but it smells, to me, more like a bushel basket of fresh green beans.  It rather tastes like green beans, too, but there is enough grapefruit and lime on the palate to mask the flavor somewhat.  A very savory wine with a long finish of citrus… and green beans. Nice acidity.


Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Chilean Pinot Noir Speaks Of The Ocean

Kalfu means blue in the language of the Mapuche, the indigenous people of Chile.  In the framework of wine, it's a reference to the Pacific Ocean to the west.  It is that body of water which establishes the cool climate, the breezes and the fog that allow the grapes to ripen steadily for the creation of a balanced wine.  The winery urges its friends to feel the ocean's strength and freshness in their wines.

The 2017 Kalfu Kuda Pinot Noir was produced by Ventisquero.  Winemaker Alejandro Galaz used sustainably grown grapes from the Las Terrazas Vineyard in the Leyda Valley, seven miles from the ocean and near the Maipo River.  The 2017 vintage was a little cooler than usual, which made for better aromatics and balance.  The wine aged for a year in French oak barrels, most of which were neutral.  Alcohol hits 14% abv and the wine retails for $19.

This Chilean Pinot Noir offers up a medium tint in the glass and a nose of earthy, smoky musk.  The palate shows black and red fruit with, cola spice and a bit of bramble.  It's more rustic than elegant, and that plays just fine.  Acidity works well and the finish is medium length.


Monday, April 1, 2019

Fogo De Chão Unveils Spring Menu Meats, Drinks, Wine

The fantastic, Dallas-based Brazilian steakhouse Fogo de Chão is now serving new menu items for the spring season.  If you've never been to a Fogo location, it's been described as a "meat parade," in which servers keep those choices coming until you throw out the stop sign. 

Fogo has introduced seven new seasonal dishes, a new cocktail and a new red wine.  The new meats include Pork Picanha - butchered and prepared with the same simple style as traditional Picanha, then carved tableside - and a new spicy Linguiça Sausage - pork with red pepper, garlic and fresh onion.  I was invited to sample the menu recently at the Beverly Hills location, with manager Sevenir Girardi guiding me along.  Girardi told me the BH store was the fifth in the nationwide chain when it opened 14 years ago.

The new pork meats are excellent, especially the Linguiça, which was an overwhelming favorite for a sausage-lover like me.  The sirloin was done to perfection, as was the Frango - chicken marinated in beer and brandy and wrapped in bacon.

Fogo's CEO Barry McGowan says "Brazilian cuisine focuses on harvesting and serving fruits and vegetables when they are in season and have reached peak flavor," and the revamp also shows up on the salad bar, or Market Table.  I'm not a particularly big fan of carrot ginger soup, but I'll have the Fogo version anytime.  It's vegetarian, gluten-free and delicious, with a bit of a spicy kick to the coconut milk.  The Brazilian kale and orange salad is also fresh, as is the roasted cauliflower salad.   The Bosc pear slices pair nicely with bleu cheese.

Dessert also got a new dish, one that Girardi says came straight from Brazil.  The Crème de Coconut combines freshly-shredded coconut with condensed milk and cream, baked in the oven and served warm with ice cream and a little lime zest.  I had this instead of my typical Key lime pie, and was glad I did.

There's a new cocktail at Fogo de Chao for spring, the Blood Orange Manhattan.  The bartender mixes Buffalo Trace Bourbon with a splash of Carpano Antica, a dash of blood orange and angostura bitters.  It is served over rocks, and the loads of citrus and its easy-drinking nature make it a great seasonal choice that should be a fave right through summer.

Fogo also unveiled Eulila, a Chilean red wine blend from the Cachapoal Valley (Carmenere, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah) specially created exclusively for Fogo by the award-winning winemakers at Viña Vik that pays tribute to Eulila "Selma" Oliveira, Chief Culture Officer of Fogo de Chão.   It's a great pairing with Fogo faves like the dry-aged steak offerings: Bone-In Cowboy Ribeye, 24-ounce New York Strip, 32-ounce Tomahawk Ribeye.

Born and raised in Brazil, Oliveira moved to the United States in 1985, determined to achieve the American dream. Following a chance encounter with the founders of Fogo de Chão while in Dallas, she joined Fogo as the brand's first female manager and, eventually, executive.  She's considered today to be the heart and soul of the organization, affectionately known as the Fogo matriarch. 

Created by Viña Vik for the Fogo de Chao restaurant chain, this wine blends 48% Carmenere grapes, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 22% Syrah into a food-friendly delight.  The wine smells of earth and dark fruit and has a savory edge to the fruitiness on the palate, with excellent acidity and tannic structure.  It hits 14% abv on the alcohol scale, a little lighter than wines of this type usually are, and it sells for $76 bottle in the restaurant. 

Fogo de Chao is not a seasonal choice for me - I’ll go anytime, no arm-twisting required - but their springtime focus adds a few new reasons to stop by.


Follow Randy Fuller on Twitter

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.


Follow Randy Fuller on Twitter

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Chilean Wine: The Angels of Montes

Chilean wine is a special thing for me. I love the dark nature the wines often take on, and I love thinking of the beautiful mountain backdrop for the vineyards. The virtual wine tasting session for Montes Wines was in mid-February, and I was lucky enough to be invited to join as tasters tasted and winemaker Aurelio Montes chipped in his observations throughout the event.

Montes offered that "Chile is developing new varieties. In the future, you will see new and exciting varieties and styles. Blends are a new focus." Explaining the unique Colchagua Valley terroir of the vineyards from which his fruit comes, Montes said, "it is the granitic soil with some iron oxide in the middle, and very old clay that allow the vines grow without water." He tweeted about the winery’s ecological concerns, saying, "we not only take care of the environment, we also take care of our team, suppliers, and importers around the world. Our philosophy in winemaking is all about equilibrium and harmony."

He even explained those wonderful illustrations on the labels, done by the iconic artist Ralph Steadman. "Our cofounder Douglas Murray believed angels protected him," he said. "He wanted the same for Montes so he put angel images on every bottle." The cherub depicted is Alfredo, named after a founding partner of the Montes label.


Montes Cherub Rosé of Syrah 2015

The grapes for this rosé come from the Archangel Estate in Marchigûe, their estate that is closest to the ocean. Alcohol is 13.5% abv and it’s 100% Syrah with no oak to get in the way of the fruit. It sells for $15.

This pink wine is not shy, it commands attention right out of the bottle. Pouring up a bright cherry red, it looks like a Spanish rosado. A whiff brings into focus some truly earthy strawberry and cherry aromas. There is a great deal of stemmy greenness in that whiff, too. The palate is lush and fruity but there is an awesome acidity that makes it so fresh the day will turn into spring all around you, no matter what season it is. Twitter contributors suggested pairing it with Mexican spiced salmon or a tuna poke. It was great with smoked mahi mahi.


Montes Twins Malbec Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

As the name suggests, it’s a 50/50 mix of the labeled grapes.  With this blend you get smooth texture from the Malbec and rich structure from the Cab. It is only 14% abv and nearly half of the wine was aged for ten months in new French oak barrels. The growing season featured a cooler than normal spring with some temperature spikes in the summer. It retails for $15, a great price.

It’s a dark wine, in shading and aromas. The whiff gives off smokey and earthy notes of blackberry and cassis, but the savory stuff is what comes forward the most. On the palate it’s dark as well. Plums, berries, spices - all dark. There are flavors of campfire and anise covering the black fruit like a blanket. Great acidity lasts into the finish.


Follow Randy Fuller on Twitter

Monday, February 29, 2016

Chilean Wine: Make It A Ritual

Fans of wine and social media got another chance to convene over a few sips with virtual friends when Charles Communications Associates held their first Brandlive event of 2016 with Huneeus Vintners and Ritual Wines, featuring Ritual's 2015 releases from Chile’s Casablanca Valley.

Winemaker Rodrigo Soto guided us through the following wines with the help of CCA founder and co-host Kimberly Charles: 2015 Ritual Sauvignon Blanc ($18), 2015 Ritual Chardonnay ($20) and 2015 Ritual Pinot Noir ($20).

The proceedings are archived at hashtag #RitualLive on Twitter or see the video here.

Ritual is the Huneeus family’s original, flagship estate on the extreme eastern edge of the Casablanca Valley in Chile. The 800-acre property is set against the dramatic backdrop of the Chilean Coastal Range, and surrounded by 6,000 acres of protected, native forest. Suddenly, I'm ready for a vacation.

Soto works closely with superstar consultant Paul Hobbs and the renowned terroir specialist, Pedro Parra. Soto’s philosophy behind biodynamic & composting: "One must die to let the next generation live." I might have been a lot more receptive to that philosophy in my younger days, but I get that he’s talking about vines. Right?

During the virtual tasting event Soto said, "We believe in letting the vines connect with their environment over time, this is the art of crafting exceptional wine." Soto’s mentor said of him that when it comes to organic winemaking, "The student has become the master." Soto is in the process of converting all of Ritual’s vineyards to organic farming.

The Wines

The online tasters had nothing but good things to say about Ritual’s 2015 Sauvignon Blanc. Soto said he likes the freshness of the wine, but he made it to age. It was vinified in 30% neutral oak, 30% concrete eggs and 40% steel tanks. The egg portion complements the other aspects and lends a little more texture to the finished wine. Alcohol hits 14% abv and it sells in most places for around $15.

The wine has a fresh, grassy nose with citrus notes of grapefruit and a sense of wet rocks. On the palate, great acidity jumps right out at me, very fresh and bracing. Grapefruit, orange peel and lemon flavors get attention first, but the minerals get out front quickly. A nice, long finish is sorely missed when it finally goes away.


Soto commented during the virtual event that, "Chardonnay, for us, has been a challenge." He thinks overly sweet and round chardonnay masks its sense of place, so he works hard to keep a balance.

The Ritual 2015 Chardonnay is another cool-climate Casablanca Valley wonder, vinified 20% in a concrete egg and the rest neutral oak. Comments online ran along the lines of, "brisk acidity," "stunning," "a must have for all Chardonnay lovers!" and other such praise. In addition, it costs less than $20. Again, 14% abv.

This is a straw-colored wine with a nice tropical nose showing a hint of lime. Its palate is quite tasty, with lots of citrus minerality and just a shade of oak. Meyer lemon note is beautiful. The acidity is excellent and the mouthfeel is full. A lengthy finish makes the pleasure last.


Of the Ritual 2015 Pinot Noir, one participant in the tasting event remarked that "this Pinot is stunning me. I never enjoyed Chilean Pinot because it suffered from being too green." Not this time.

The wine is 100% open top fermented, with barrel aging in 30% new French oak for 11 months. Alcohol comes in at 14%.  It retails for under $20, far under at some online sites. It’s a true steal. Soto believes that Pinot Noir is a variety that can thrive in Chile, and the tasters think he’s right.  The wine got monster raves from the online crowd.

It gets high marks from me, too. The nose shows some funk right away, and notes of coffee grounds and tea leaves surface soon after. The palate is a walk on the dark side - none of that pretty little raspberry stuff here. The black raspberry element is carried along by a wave of savory forest floor, going under for a bit but surfacing nicely on the finish. Although there is enough tannic grip for pairing with meat, it has the mouthfeel of a sipping wine. It’s full and wild and raw, but it knows its role and plays it well.


Follow Randy Fuller on Twitter


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.


Follow Randy Fuller on Twitter

Monday, April 13, 2015

Globerati Sauvignon Blanc

This 2013 Sauvignon Blanc comes from the Central Valley of Chile, and is made exclusively for Whole Foods Markets. It is apparently 100% Sauvignon Blanc, although I could find little information to support that. Globerati is a company that "stalks the finest vineyards of the world, swooping in at the opportune moment to bring you the latest sensational wine."

I don't know that I would call this one sensational, but it is certainly enjoyable. It has a nice yellow-gold straw tint in the glass, with a nose exhibiting big citrus - lemon-lime and grapefruit - with great citrus notes on the palate, too.  Grapefruits and limes are abundant, with a bright acidity and a mouthfeel that is full and round. It finishes clean, with minerals and zest. Not extremely complex wine, but as Spencer Tracy once said, "what's there is cherce."


Follow Randy Fuller on Twitter

Friday, November 28, 2014

Holiday Wines 2014: Whole Foods Market part 2

Another holiday season is upon us, and the fine folks at Whole Foods Markets have another selection of wines that are perfect for the holidays. Not only are they holiday-ready, but they are on the shelves at wine-equipped Whole Foods stores.  As usual, they are priced so you can splurge a little on the turkey, or the ham, or the standing rib roast, or whatever you have in mind to highlight your holiday feast.

Ashley Hawkins, a representative of Whole Foods Markets, says this year's WFM holiday picks, "showcase a wide variety of wines from a perfect-for-turkey-and-ham silky Sonoma County Pinot Noir to a French Chardonnay-Viognier with a round, fruity softness that pairs well with yams and cranberry."

Some of the the wines were tasted in a virtual tasting event on Twitter a couple of weeks back, and another Twitter Tasting is set for Thursday December 4, 2014. See the wines below.  I'll be writing about the wines separately, but you can get an idea of what to expect with the descriptions from Whole Foods, shown below, along with their favorite food pairing for each.  “*” denotes a wine which is available only at Whole Foods Markets.

Pick up a bottle or two and join the social media crowd for both of these Twitter tastings.  Follow along in the hashtag #WFMWine to get the full effect of the fun that can be found while tasting and tweeting.

Thursday December 4, 2014, 7-8 CT
* Globerati Sauvignon Blanc

"From the Central Valley of Chile, this bright, fresh white has aromas of lemon and grapefruit with a hint of honeysuckle, and mineral notes are balanced with a green apple acidity.
Pairings: Mitica Campo de Montalban, Manhattan clam chowder, shrimp cocktail, mussels, sliced pears."

* Bubo Cabernet Sauvignon

"Surprisingly fruity, pleasant and approachable with a touch of green pepper aroma, this red has flavors of blackberries and ripe plums that accentuate the juiciness of this easy drinking wine.
Pairings: Ford Farms Seaside Cheddar, cranberry turkey sandwiches, veggie lasagna, cassoulet, beef enchiladas."

* Charles and Charles CL Merlot Red Blend

"There is an attractive baked biscuit aroma in this inky, hearty red. Black and blue fruits come forward and then recede into a rich, elegant, full-bodied finish.
Pairings: Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, steak and Guinness pie, twice baked potatoes, buttery pastry crusts."

* H&G Priorat


"Earthy, herbaceous aromas in this brick red wine lead to a refined minerality and complex dark fruit flavors. The terroir of Priorat, Spain proudly shows in the glass.
Pairings: Guilloteau Fromager d’Affinois, barbecue, hearty veggie stews, Brunswick stew, grilled ribeye."



on November 13, 2014
Pizzolato Organic Pinot Grigio

"Stone fruit aromas give way to an enticing minerality and vibrant acidity in this organically grown Italian white.
Pairings: Oro del Tiempe Piave Vecchio, delicate seafood, shellfish, lemon vinaigrette, citrus fruit salad"

* Sea Pines Russian River Chardonnay

"Subtle aromas belie big flavors of green apple, lemon and vanilla bean. A pleasant richness hints at the use of just the right amount of oak for a lovely balance.
Pairings: Cypress Grove Midnight Moon, poached turbot, Cornish hens, chowders, lobster bisque, cream sauces."

* Bodegas Belgrano Malbec

"With aromas of warm spices and stewed blueberry flavors that mingle with woodsy hints of smoke, this textbook Argentine malbec has a roundness that makes for an easy drinking classic.
Pairings: Hennings Cranberry Orange."

* Leyenda del Castillo Rioja

"Mineral, earthy aromas are found in this deep garnet Spanish red. With bright, sunny fruit flavors like ripe cherries, this Rioja has a lingering, well-balanced finish.
Pairings: Mitica Mahon, grilled meats, pork chops, eggplant marinara, charred steaks."



Thursday, November 22, 2012

Pinot Days Los Angeles 2012

The annual Pinot Days wine tasting event in Los Angeles was actually the second such event for 2012.  After the January event, the date was bumped up to its new home in November.  The event was held November 11, 2012 at the Shrine Auditorium hall.  Steve and Lisa Rigisich stage this event, and they do a great job of pulling together Pinot Noir producers from California, Oregon and New Zealand - as well as a few from other locales.

All the wines mentioned here are Pinot Noir, unless otherwise noted.  Here are some of the highlights I found - in an event where nearly everything was worthy of note:

Belle Glos Wines, Rutherford, CA
2011 Clark and Telephone - Santa Maria Valley fruit with rich chocolate on the nose and palate;  great for the holidays
2005 Las Alturas - smokey raspberry and tea, from the Santa Lucia Highlands

Bien Nacido Vineyards, Santa Maria, CA
Winemaker Trey Fletcher told me they only make about a thousand cases per year, since their fruit is in such high demand.  They sell around 300 acres of grapes to other vintners.  Fletcher said, "It's a pleasure to work with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay fruit from 40-year-old vines.”
2009 Solomon Hills Vineyard - coffee, tea and minerals
2009 Bien Nacido Vineyard - beautiful earthiness

Cameron Hughes Wine, San Francisco, CA
According to their website, Cameron Hughes is “an American négociant that makes, imports and distributes” wines that often sell for under $20 per bottle, nearly always under $30.  Wines from Cameron Hughes always make me feel like I got a lot for my money.  These are great values.
2009 Russian River Valley - mocha and earth
2009 Santa Maria Valley - cola and earth
2009 Savigny les Beaune - tart and fresh, from a French vineyard
2010 Casablanca Valley - from Chile, cool climate, huge nose, big tea notes
2010 Sonoma County - touch of orange peel
2009 Los Caneros - dark nose, black tea, great acidity.

Fess Parker Winery and Vineyard, Los Olivos, CA
2009 Ashley's Vineyard - big minerals and acidity

La Fenêtre, Santa Maria, CA
Winemaker Joshua Klapper (right) keeps coming forth with terroir-driven Pinots reflective of the choice locations sourced.
2009 A Cote North Coast - black tea, acidity
2010 Santa Maria Valley - dark yet delicate
2010 Le Bon Climat Vineyard - Santa Maria Valley; delightfully funky; good with game
2010 Bien Nacido Vineyard - earth, minerals
2010 Presqu’ile Vineyard - minerals, tea, acidity

Olson Ogden Wines, Santa Rosa, CA
2009 Alder Springs Vineyard - from Mendocino, seven miles from the Pacific; mocha, cola, acidity; feels like the holidays

Pence Ranch, Buellton, CA
Winemaker Jeff Fink did a great job on these, and got quite a bit of chatter at the event.
2010 Estate Sta Rita Hills - big black tea
2010 Uplands - dark and delicious
2010 Westslope - huge minerals

Sanford, Lompoc, CA
2010 Sta Rita Hills - blend of their two estate vineyards; chocolate, mocha, tea; ready for the holidays
2009 La Rinconada - smokey minerals
2009 Sanford and Benedict - dark, smokey fruit


These entries showed admirably, too:

Alma Rosa Winery and Vineyards, Buellton, CA
2008 Sta Rita Hills - raspberry candy on the nose, tea and cranberry on the palate; six different Pinot Noir clones are blended
2010 Sta Rita Hills - two clones; young and fruity

Alta Maria Vineyards, Santa Maria, CA
2009 Santa Maria Valley - several vineyards combine for this darkly perfumed wine
2010 Santa Maria Valley - huge notes of black tea

Ancient Oaks Cellars, Santa Rosa, CA
2010 Russian River Valley - smoke, tea and coffee
2009 Estate - dark cranberry flavors

August West, San Francisco, CA
Winemaker Ed Kurtzman is a Deadhead, and the name August West is a character in the Grateful Dead song, “Wharf Rat.”  Digging a little deeper, the lyrics of the song have August West stating that he loves his Pearly Baker more than he loves his wine.  The Reverend Purley Baker was a prohibition-era anti-alcohol fanatic.  Today, a group of sober Deadheads call themselves Wharf Rats.  Their motto is "One show at a time.”  It’s a shame they can’t enjoy these:
2011 Russian River Valley - candy edge to black tea flavor
2011 Rosella's Vineyard - dark cranberry notes

Benziger Family Wines, Glen Ellen, CA
2010 Signaterra Bella Luna Vineyard - Russian River Valley fruit is biodynamically farmed,,has a barnyard edge
2010 De Cuelo - also very funky, earthy

Blair Vineyards, Salinas, CA
2010 Estate - eastern part of the Arroyo Seco AVA; their first vintage; fresh, clean tasting wine, just a hint of smoke

Cargasacchi Wines, Lompoc, CA
One taster cried, "The Lompoc wine barn!" as he approached the Cargasacchi table, as if he thought he’d never arrive.
2009 Point Conception Salsipuedes - coffee, black tea, fruit, acidity; pretty good for a budget wine
2010 Cargasacchi Jalama Vineyard - great fruit forward presentation

Cornerstone Cellars, Oregon
I usually see Cornerstone’s Craig Camp (left) singing the praises of his Napa Valley fruit, but this time he was touting the Oregon branch office, which produces some very good Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.  He chatted about good grapes, cool climate and tough vintages.
2010 Stepping Stone - tea, acidity
2010 Cornerstone Oregon - nice acidity and tartness from a difficult vintage; classic, floral, delicate

Derby Wine Estates, Paso Robles, CA
2007 San Simeon Reserve - like port on the nose, dark and intense flavors

Domaine Serene, Oregon
2009 Winery Hill - cherry cola
2008 Evenstad Reserve - blend of seven vineyards; earthy, black tea, great acidity

Fess Parker Winery and Vineyard, Los Olivos, CA
2010 Sta Rita Hills - due in Feb. fruit comes first
2010 Sta Rita Hills Clone 115 - acidity
2010 Sta Rita Hills Pommard Clone - dark, coffee and tea

Fort Ross Vineyard and Winery, San Francisco, CA
Fort Ross-Seaview is a new appellation, along the western edge of the Sonoma AVA.
2007 Fort Ross Vineyard - minerals
2009 Fort Ross Vineyard - coffee and tea

Inception Wines, Los Angeles, CA
This SoCal vintner sources grapes from Santa Barbara County.
2010 Central Coast - fruit from Edna Valley, Santa Maria Valley, Los Alamos;  nice black tea notes
2010 Santa Babara County - rich dark fruit
2009 Sta Rita Hills La Encantada - beautiful black tea and acidity

Kendric Vineyards, San Anselmo, CA
2008 Marin County - very floral, holiday spice
2009 Marin County - more minerals

MacRostie Winery, Sonoma, CA
2008 Sonoma Coast - abundant minerals
2008 Wildcat Mountain - big tea notes, acidity
Both are very BIG wines

Pali Wine Company, Lompoc, CA
2010 Bluffs - Russian River Valley fruit;  BIG fruity nose, huge floral and tea aspect on palate;  These guys make enormous wines.

Stoller Vineyards, Dundee Hills, OR
2009 Reserve - very fruity

Thomas Fogarty Winery, Portola Valley, CA
2010 Santa Cruz Mountains - cranberry, earth
2010 Rapley Trail Vineyard - fruity tea
2010 Windy Hill Vineyard - minerals, earth, pomegranate

Thomas George Estates, Healdsburg, CA
2011 Rosé of Pinot Noir - refreshing, dry, mineral laden
2010 Russian River Valley - minerals black tea
2009 Star Ridge - dark and fruity

Witch Creek Winery, Carlsbad, CA
2009 Clarksburg - funky candy

It was Nice bumping into Jeff Zimmitti of Rosso Wine Shop in Glendale.  Jeff told me he has been appearing quite a bit on The Tasting Room with Tom Leykis. Apparently Leykis has broadened his spectrum from cult cabs to European wine of late, particularly Italian varieties, which has to make Zimmitti happy.

It was a big surprise to see Heidi Hamilton, my one-time radio buddy, there.  She is now appearing in the morning show on KLOS/Los Angeles.  She was pouring at the station’s bubbly booth, helping cleanse palates when not darting over to one side of the room or the other for a taste of Pinot.  Hamilton thought I was kidding when I told her I spit out my tastes.  “I’d drink over a gallon of wine if I didn’t,” I explained.  “What am I, in college?”

Rob Barnett of Vin Village was situated perfectly to catch people as they entered the hall.  We chatted briefly about wines from Clarksburg and Baja, until he was overrun by fans.

Josh Klapper of La Fenêtre kept up his usual fast-paced patter while throwing an aside to me without breaking stride.  “That’s off the record, Randy,” he shot my way.  I wish I’d been paying attention to what he was saying at the time.  I was distracted by his wines.



Follow Randy Fuller on Twitter

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Montes Twins Red Wine 2011


Here’s a red wine from Chile with some guts, and it’s a very easy-drinking quaff as well.  Montes Twins Red Wine 2011 is a 50/50 blend of Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile's Colchagua Valley.  More or less in the middle of the country, south of Santiago, The Colchagua Valley is in the Rapel Valley, which is part of the larger Central Valley appellation.  The Malbec is sourced from the Marchigue Vineyard, while the Cab comes from the Apalta Vineyard.

Winemaker Aurelio Montes uses the Malbec grapes for their smooth texture, while the richness and structure of the wine he gets from the Cab.  The wine - or 60% of it - is aged in French oak barrels for ten months.  Alcohol content rests at a moderate 13.9% abv.  Montes recommends at least a half hour of decanting time before serving.  They say we can expect cellaring of six years.  The wine comes under a screw cap.

Montes Twins features artwork by Ralph Steadman on the label.  You may remember that his illustrations once accompanied the writings of Hunter S. Thompson.  TGIC Importers of Woodland Hills, California supplied this sample.

Upon pouring the wine, the color is rather striking.  It's almost black.  The nose is extremely dark, laden with aromas of blackberries and black plums.  A violet note sneaks through and tries to hide.  The taste follows suit, with very dark flavors of plum, berry and tar.  The tannic structure is outstanding - it really hits the mark with a burger.

Monday, October 17, 2011

CASA LAPOSTOLLE SAUVIGNON BLANC


Lapostolle Sauvignon Blanc

A lunchtime stop at Wood Ranch in Los Angeles seemed like a good time to try a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc.  This Wood Ranch location is either in The Grove or the Farmer's Market.  It's hard to tell, as it lies between the two shopping meccas at 3rd and Fairfax.  It might be neither, but it's certainly not both.  At any rate, the parking validation policy is no help - the restaurant doesn't kick in for the parking cost at either place, so I guess I'll stop complaining and enjoy the wine.

The Casa Lapostolle Sauvignon Blanc is produced in the Rapel Valley of Chile's Central Valley region.  The Lapostolle winery is owned by the Marnier Lapostolle family, the fine folks who bring you Grand Marnier liqueur.  In addition to their spirits, they have been producing wine in the Loire Valley for a number of years.  The family bought into this Chilean winery in 1994.  The vines of the estate are apparently quite old, having been brought from France in pre-phylloxera days.  The Sauvignon Blanc cost $8 by the glass.  Plus parking.  Grrr.

A pale green tint emanates from the glass and the nose gives a gentle grassiness with minerals and wet rocks - rather like rainfall on the pavement of an expensive parking lot - joining peach and citrus aromas.  The acidity is refreshing, but the wine feels full in my mouth - almost creamy, in fact.  Soft lemon and lime flavors take on am essence of custard, or key lime pie.

It's a great match for the fantastic clam chowder at Wood Ranch.



Follow Randy Fuller on Twitter.