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Recommendations (and Observations) from the Wines of Chile Online Tasting

Friday, May 29, 2009

Earlier this week, I wrote about an Online Wine Tasting put on by the folks at Wines of Chile. I promised to follow-up with some additional observations and recommendations. Here they are:

Observations:

  • I thought this was the most professional and polished piece of online wine marketing I've ever seen. Truly- it was first class from beginning to end and I'd like to thank Wines of Chile for allowing me to participate.
  • Until just recently, one of my favorite local wine shops didn't carry a single Chilean wine.
  • One of the things I enjoyed most was comparing notes with the other wine bloggers on Twitter real-time during the tasting. It was really interesting when someone else agree or disagreed with my impressions of the wines, or specific nuances associated with each wine. The way it was set up, it was perhaps even better than a live tasting because everyone was free to blurt out what they thought of a wine. When attending a live tasting, people are of course polite and don't all talk at once. I thought this was a really neat aspect of the event.
  • I asked a question of the winemakers during the tasting:
    "Are green pepper aromas considered a flaw in Chilean red wines?"
    I thought the answer was quite interesting, which was (if I recall correctly) that green bean aromas/flavors are to be avoided, but green pepper is less desirable in some markets than others. In the UK, it's not such a bad thing. In the US, consumers generally don't like it.
  • An indication of whether I liked each of the wines: The spittoon was dry at the end of the evening.
  • All of the wines held up very well over a number days on the counter with the corks re-inserted in them. I take this as a good sign. Quality wines tend to age well overnight without any special preservation techniques.
  • The first wine to go was the Errazuriz Carmenre. The last was the Los Vascos red blend.
Recommendations:

  • I think Carmenere is the first place to start when exploring Chilean wines. Buy a bottle for around $10 and if you like it, explore further. One I'd recommend is the 2007 Vina Chocolan. Another I'd recommend from is the 2007 (oops), also around $10.
  • If you like what Carmenere has to offer at the $10 price point, two others I'd recommend are the $27 Errazuriz Single Vineyard (discussed in my prior entry here and available from wine.com in CA for $19.99 last I checked) and the $40 2006 Undurraga Founder's Collection.
  • The Cabernets and Bordeaux blends I tried here, overall, weren't my favorites. I don't think Chilean Cab is a substitute for the characteristics you'll find in Napa Cab.
  • I don't think that these smoky red wines are good warm weather wines. Because they're non-luscious and so dense I find myself looking elsewhere when it's warm (like Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling). Best to try one of these Chileans on a cool, rainy night.
  • Chilean Pinot Noir is a variety to keep your eye on. Of the two that I've tried now, both were fantastic aromatically and on the palate. The finish is just a little less smooth that I'd expect in a Pinot Noir. Perhaps they would benefit from a year or two of aging. Overall, at $15-$18 the 2008 Cono Sur Vision discussed previously and the 2007 Vina Casablanca Nimbus Estate bring more flavor and excitement than most sub-$20 domestic Pinot Noirs I've tried.
My thanks again to Wines of Chile for enabling me to taste through these wines. I really appreciate it.

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