Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wines of Chile Online Blogger Tasting

In just a few minutes the first Wines of Chile Online Blogger Tasting will take place. If I do say so myself, I was a key person on the Wines of Chile Team in putting this together, and that is hardly tooting my own horn. From the creation of the idea, to most of its implementation, up until I left the company, this was my baby.

And now I can just hear my mother in the back of my head telling me that it is better to be humble than to list all the work I did.

In fact, I left with plenty of work to do and I know the Wines of Chile Team has done spectacularly. You never really know how much work something is going to be until you do it for the first time, and putting this event together has been no picnic, especially in the last week.

After having a lot of good feedback about whether or not I should write about Chilean wines I have decided it makes the most sense for me to write as much as I possibly can. Chile is making some amazing wines and it would be unfair of me to keep the knowledge to myself.

For instance, the wineries that we have lined up for this online blogger tasting are all very impressive:

The first wine in the line-up tonight will be the Emiliana Natura Sauvignon Blanc 2008. Chile has been making fabulous Sauvignon Blanc in the last couple years, especially in the cooler climate regions. In fact, it was a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc that turned me back on to white wine. This was 3 years ago when I was a year out of college and most of the white wine I had tasted came out of a box or a jug. The revelation was one I will never forget. The winemaker presenting from Emiliana will be Antonio Bravo. Emiliana is also one of the few completely organic wineries in Chile. Other wines I have enjoyed from Emiliana are Coyam 2005, GE (so far every vintage I have tasted), and Natura Carmenere 2005.

Second up to the plate will be the Cono Sur Vision Pinot Noir 2008, presented by winemaker Matais Rios. If there is anyone in Chile who is doing a great job creating quality Pinot Noir at a great price, it is Cono Sur. While not known for Pinot, Chile has been branching out and seeing what other grapes will do well in the climates in Chile. Pinot Noir has been growing steadily in Chile in the last few years and looks to continue its growth as more producers try their hand at growing the grape. I visited this winery last time I was in Chile and had the pleasure of meeting many of the winery managers. We also took a bicycle ride through the vineyards, which would have been fabulous, if only I knew how to ride a bike...

In the power hitter spot is the Los Vascos Reserve 2006, presented by winemaker Marcelo Gallardo. I had the good fortune of visiting this winery last time I was in Chile and took a tour of the winery and vineyards. The land there is absolutely stunning. There is a small hill that we climbed up, which allowed the group of us to look at the entire valley at sunset. I also was able to meet Marcelo, and I am not sure the man ever stopped laughing while we were there. It was a great visit. Los Vascos is definitely one of the largest wineries in Chile and makes a VAST amount of wine, although they only make six wines. What most impresses me about the winery is that they consistently produce wine at a great value. It is also worth noting that Los Vascos is owned by Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite).

Next is the Santa Carolina Reserva de Familia Carmenere 2007, new to the market and ready to be bought. The winemaker leading the discussion on this wine is Andres Caballero. While I am familiar with their wines, I must admit I know little about the Carolina Wine Brands. They are also responsible for the Vina Casablanca (which are all very tasty) and Ochegavia lines. In my tastings I have found that overall Santa Carolina produces solid wines. And value is definitely the theme through all of them. Seems to be the theme through this write-up as well, but it is hard to talk about Chilean wine without talking value.

The second Carmenere is the Errazuriz Single Vineyard Carmenere 2007, presented by winemaker Francisco Baettig. Carmenere, of course, is Chile's unique variety. No where else in the world is Carmenere being made, or at least being made in commercial quantities. I just did a tasting of Camenere not too long ago and it was my opinion that this wine is one of the best Carmenere's coming out of Chile today. I will not give you my notes now, but I am excited to see what the other bloggers say about this wine. Errazuriz is based in Aconcagua and makes great wine. Others from this winery that are noteworthy are the Eduardo Chadwick (easily the most expensive wine in Chile), Kai, and Don Maximiano. Errazuriz is also responsible for the Arboleda and Sena brands. Not sure what the exact connection is, it may be that Errazuriz is the parent company, but they are connected in some way.

Next up is the Undurraga T.H. Syrah 2007, being represented by winemaker Rafael Urrejola. Again, while I have tasted this wineries wines extensively, I could not say that I have a good grasp on the history. I know that T.H. stands for Terroir Hunter, however I am sure the winemaker will go into what that means for them. This wine is also interesting because it is from Limari. Most of the other wines we will be tasting are from Colchagua or Maipo.

Second to last is the Haras Character Cabernet/Carmenere 2006, presented by winemaker Cecilia Guzman. I do not know how there ended up being only one woman winemaker on this panel, but I know for certain there are MANY more in Chile. Haras is a winery that is all about the horses. What I mean is that on the property are tons of thoroughbred horses. The winery is in the shape of a horseshoe. In fact, the vineyards themselves are planted in the shape of a horseshoe. Some of the wines I have been a fan of from this winery are the Albis, Elegance, and Sauvignon Blanc.

Last, but certainly not least is the Veramonte Primus 2006, presented by winemaker Cristian Aliaga. Veramonte is another winery that has consistency and value down to a science. I believe they consider this wine, the Primus, to be their Icon wine. While most Icon wines from Chile range in the $50 - $60 range (with bottles heavy enough to break your back when carrying a case of them), this one settles quite nicely into the $20 range.

That is all for now. Tomorrow I will hopefully have my tasting notes written up and posted. I really am looking forward to this tasting, as I think it will become a new way to reach not only bloggers, but the populace at large.
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