Chilean Ambassador Mariano Fern√°ndez
hosted a ‚€œChilean Farm Market‚€ at his residence recently,
showcasing meats, cheeses, produce and wine from his country. Chilean
fruits and vegetables are no strangers in these parts, of course, having
been winter staples for years. But I hope we begin seeing some of these
meats ‚€“ chewy, rich beef tenderloin that bore little resemblance to
the corn-fed beef we‚€™re used to, and dense rack of lamb that tasted of
the grasslands of the Andes foothills. (Here‚€™s my new food fantasy:
Icelandic lamb from September through November, then Chilean lamb from
February through April. Why can‚€™t meat be seasonal?)
he wines on display featured two producers, Montes and Haras, with whom I
was familiar, but also some others that were new to this market. Here
are some wines to look for:
Ventisquero, a winery in the Casablanca Valley
northwest of Santiago, had two wines for tasting ‚€“ a Sauvignon Blanc
Reserve 2006 with nice mango and red currant flavors and crisp acidity;
and a Pinot Noir Reserve 2005, light and aromatic with lovely strawberry
fruit. Both should retail for about $13 and represent good values,
especially the Pinot Noir. As Pinot Noir is rare in Chile, this was a
personal favorite in the tasting.
Casas del Bosque, also in Casablanca Valley, poured a
nice 2005 Chardonnay and a 2004 Merlot Reserve that was Bordelais in
character, with a hint of green flavors and the familiar Chilean flint.
There was a little too much oak for my taste, but I suspect that will
integrate in another year.
Falernia, from Elqui Valley, a small wine region south
of Casablanca. The 2006 Sauvignon Blanc was soft and fleshy, looking
more to California as a model than New Zealand. The 2004 Syrah Reserva
was big, with smoky Northern Rhone flavors of bacon and blueberry
matched with California body and ripe sweetness.True Rhone snobs might
find it a bit cloying, but if you like the California style, look for
Echererria, in the Central Valley, offered a 2003
Limited Edition blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Carmen√®re. It
was well-balanced, with good acidity and fruit.
Haras, from Maipo Valley just south of Santiago, was
pouring a 2005 Chardonnay that at the $10 level represents a nice value.
The 2002 Elegance Cabernet Sauvignon, at $35, was big, rich and soft in
the new international style. It was a bit cloying for my taste.
Montes offered its Leyda Vineyard 2006 Sauvignon Blanc,
which was crisp, lean, refreshing and bracing, with grapefruit and
mango flavors, and, at $12, a bargain if you can find it. The 2004
Cabernet Sauvignon Apalta, from the winery‚€™s premier vineyard in the
Colchagua Valley, is also a terrific bargain at $20, rich, with soft,
spicy mocha and blackberry fruit.
For more on Chilean wines, click here.
The photo shows the Apalta vineyard and the Montes winery in the distance at the right, in March 2005.
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