Saturday, October 16, 2010

Chileans Have Many Reasons To Celebrate

Wednesday night, as the world watched in celebration as the miners were rescued, there was also a huge celebration happening in Chilean wine.

Planned months ago, 8 different Chilean winemakers and New York based Master Sommelier Fred Dexheimer held a huge wine tasting with journalists and wine bloggers throughout the United States as the rescue occurred. Using fairly advanced online meeting software, video cameras, and the social network Twitter, as the miners were pulled into fresh air hundreds of people drank Chilean wines in unison.

I was asked some time ago to participate, and two weeks ago I received a crate of eight different wines, a media packet, recipes, a bottle of merkin (Chilean spices), and a bottle of olive oil. I even got a nice corkscrew to open everything with!

From 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. EST wine writers from throughout the continent logged into this “virtual” wine tasting. We were invited to make Chilean foods to pair with the wines. I made Mincemeat Empanadas. And, if we wanted to, we could sit and enjoy the wines in solitary or include a group of guests.

For my part I realized that 8 bottles of wine was a bit much. So, with a little help from my friends Sara and Kevin, we hosted a party of fellow winos from our neighborhood. Food, friends, and wine all converged at the same time, and we tasted some exquisite Red Chilean Blends.

The wines we tasted were all absolutely fantastic. The list went like this: 1)Valdivieso Eclat 2005 Maule Valley, 2) De Martino Single Vineyard Old Bush Vines “Las Cruces” 2006 Cachapoal Valley, 3) Estampa Gold Assemblage Carmenere 2008 Colchagua Valley, 4) Montes Limited Selection Cabernet Sauvignon Carmenere 2008 Colchagua Valley, 5) Maquis Lien 2006 Colchagua Valley, 6) Hacienda Araucano Clos de Lolal 2008 Colchagua Valley, 7) Emiliana Coyam 2007 Colchagua Valley, 8) Casas del Bosque Gran Estate Selection Private Reserve 2007 Casablanca Valley.

As I mentioned, all of these red blends were magnifico! I wouldn’t have pushed a single glass away if ever offered to me. But, for the sake of this short article I had to ask my local tasting panel for a vote of their two favorites. The two wines that truly shone out in the crowd were the Montes, and the Araucano.

The Montes is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 30% Carmenere made by winemaker Aurelio Montes. The wine shows in the glass with intense ruby color. It’s aromas are cocoa, tobacco, and cedar. Flavors of dark fruit mix with the cocoa flavor and add a rich butterscotch to the silky tannins. Priced at $15 SRP I would say that Montes has price on his side as well.

The Araucano is produced by winemaker Luca Hodgkinson. A rich blend of 31% Syrah, 29% Cabernet Franc, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 17% Carmenere. This wine is chock full of blackberries, tobacco, and spice box. It offers a full range of flavors across the palate and finishes long and supple. At a $23 SRP I would say this wine is a steal.

I realize that this tasting appears to be a great tease to all of you who may not have been able to participate. However, the reason for this tasting was to present them to the U.S.

Currently the wines, the spices, and the olive oil are all available at If they continue to excel, who knows, maybe you’ll find them locally as well.

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