September 10, 2009

So after I very long hiatus (i took a break from not blogging to… not blog) I am back with a double whammy. First up is Salud! the fourth annual Chilean wine fest. Between September 18 and 30, 34 NYC restaurants will be pouring Chiliean wines in celebration of Chile’s independence day. This afternoon, I had the pleasure of tasting a few of the country’s many offerings.

Our first glass was Emiliana’s 2007 Natura Sauvignon Blanc from the Casablanca Valley. The combination of dim, overcast natural light and a small pour made the wine appear virtually transparent. Maybe a very pale straw at best. On the nose I got lemon and lime with some floral and mineral notes. The body was very light and the crisp acidity made it very easy drinking. While I wouldn’t rave about this wine, I thought it was a nice offering for the price point (<$10) and I’d be interested in trying other Sauvignons from Chile.

Next on the agenda was a wine familiar to me. I’ve worked with Cono Sur’s Visión Pinot Noir at another restaurant and I know I like it. The 2008 vintage has a ruby to garnet hue with a lot of berries on the nose. My first whiff came out as all strawberry. After that I got some raspberry and light earth flavors. Being situated in the Colchagua Valley, the grapes get a cold wind at night that keeps the fruit notes in check with the minerality. This Pinot is silky and lingers just long enough.

Finally we get to Chile’s signature grape. Carménère is the varietal that Chile is riding to stardom. The story goes that in 1867, a Phylloxera plague took out most of the crop in Europe, leaving Chile as the last bastion. Due to some mixup, the Carménère vines were taken to be Merlot and it wasn’t until the 90s that the world realized they weren’t drinking a strange Merlot, but rather a misunderstood, forgotten grape. Poor Carménère. Luckily with the problem fixed, we have wines being produced in both classic and new styles that can compete with the some of the world’s best for a fraction of the price.  We tasted two today, the 2008 Xplorador from Concha Y Toro and the 2007 Santa Rita Reserva.

I was really surprised at how different these two wines were. The Xplorador was dark ruby to purple with a medium body. I found black fruit on the nose and palette with some cocoa and espresso brought on, presumably, by the presence of Cabernet Sauvignon. Quaffable in its youth, I would drink this up while it lasted. In the other hand we have the ’07 Reserva. This wine had a much bigger expression and dominates the mouth. The rich and luscious fruit notes mingle with some spice and beg for  some grilled meats. (As a sidenote, there was a large amount of sediment in the bottle. I would’ve liked to decant and see what flavors came out.)

I must say though, due to poor planning on our beverage manager’s part, we have no idea what Chilean wines we’ll be pouring for this (we have none on our list currently). And the wine rep that came to do the presentation had pretty much no idea what she was talking about. And I will be in England from Sept. 18 to 26 so I’ll miss most of the fest. On the bright side, there’ll be a party next Tuesday with free booze and food and you know I’ll be bringing my brokeness to that.


One Response to “Salud!”

  1. Margaret Says:

    You’ve hit 3 of Chile’s top varietals (add some Cabernet and Syrah in there for good measure). The beauty of it all is the diversity, as you pointed out with the Carmenere… and that’s what make these events so interesting. People in New York and Washington will have plenty of opportunity to try a wide range of Chilean wines of the next few weeks!

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