Wednesday, May 27, 2009
"In my opinion, the best value in red wines of the world comes from Chile."
-Kevin Zraly, Wine Educator
-Kevin Zraly, Wine Educator
This past week, I participated in a unique and innovative live online wine tasting. Wines of Chile supplied wine bloggers around the country with 8 distinct wines (along with a corkscrew, stemware, and a spittoon) and asked us to log in and take part in a moderated, guided tasting. As we tasted the wines, we watched live streaming video of winemakers from Chile representing each of the wines we tasted as they were interviewed by Michael Green, Wine & Spirits consultant to Gourmet Magazine.
While they were talking, we could type in questions for the winemakers, which were passed along by the moderator. Many of the bloggers were also simultaneously discussing the wines, and the event in general, on Twitter. You can view the discussion (which is still going on as people taste through the remainders of the wines) by searching for the #WinesOfChile hashtag on Twitter.
The wines we tasted carry MSRPs between $10.99 to $26. The next day, I shared half of the bottles with my friend "DK" (8 bottles are a lot to drink through over the course of a few days). His notes accompany mine below for the bottles he tasted.
I included label images below for the wines I thought were most noteworthy.
2008 Emiliana Natura Sauvignon Blanc $10.99
This was a nice clean start to the evening. Not quite as flavorful as a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc in my estimation; not as much fresh cut grass. Tasty and enjoyable though. DK said this was one of his favorite bottles (of the four he tried).
2008 Cono Sur Vision Pinot Noir $15
The intriguing thing about this one was that it offers an alternative to the pricey domestic Pinot Noir category. On the nose, I really liked its strawberries and spice. The finish was big, but not as silky as I'd hope for from Pinot Noir. Overall, I thought it was very good, and at $15 it gives me hope that Chile may be an area for further exploration of value Pinot Noir. Of the sub-$20 domestic Pinot Noirs I've tried, this bottle was certainly better than most all of them.
2006 Los Vascos Reserve $20.99
The talk around this one was that it needed time to breathe and that it got better as the night went on. I can say that I didn't like it so much when I first tried it- it seemed austere like a young Bordeaux. When I tasted it later that night and over the next few days it did soften up a bit. But it still wasn't one of my favorite wines. It was too tannic, like a young Bordeaux, which may or may not be a good thing depending on how you look at it.
2007 Santa Carolina Reserva de Familia $14.99
I think this was a good example of Chilean Carmenere. Dense wine, with noticeable green pepper aromas accompanied by spice and smoke. *Not* a good wine to enjoy on a hot summer evening, but in the right setting this wine provides incredible depth and flavor, especially considering the price point. Side note: This bottle was amazingly heavy with a nice attractive label (see image at the top of this piece). It has the appearance of being more expensive than it is.
2007 Errazuriz Single Vineyard Carmenere $26
This was the wine of the night for me. I really enjoyed its non-green chocolate aromas. Very "round" and soft on the nose and on the palate, yet it did have nice grip on the finish. Carmenere is, for me, the wine to get from Chile. It's a distinctive wine- not trying to be something else. I would rate this wine 90 points.
DK said, "Elegance and finesse. Much softer tannin than expected but still some there. Well balanced. Not overly suggestive of place (terroir) but a nice wine and well made. 87"
2007 Undurraga T.H. Syrah $24
This one didn't do much for me in the tasting, though I really enjoyed the Undurraga Founder's Collection Carmenere I tried previously (CellarTracker tasting note here).
DK said: "Underwhelming. Some tannin, some wood some red fruit and not much else. Simple. 83"
2006 Haras Character Cabernet Sauvignon-Carmenere $21
Green pepper and cinammon on the nose. Smoke on the palate. Long finish. Not my favorite style, because I find wines like this to be non-luscious and as we come into the warmer time of year they're especially out of step with the wines I've enjoying. Maybe on a cold and rainy autumnal evening I'd enjoy wines like these more.
2006 Veramonte Primus $20
This was probably my 2nd favorite of the night. I sware I got some buttered movie theater popcorn on the nose, which was pretty cool. It was a complex wine- every time I smelled or tasted it I got something new. I would rate this wine 88 points.
DK said "Had high hopes as it was the most aromatic but a bit of a let down. Some nice red fruit and some tannic structure there. Not much terroir. 86"
Question of the Day: What do you think of Chilean wines? Do you seek it out as a source of value? If not, where are you finding better value?