Archive for the 'Chilean Wine' Category

Loma Larga Vineyards and Vi̱a El Principal РTwo to watch from Taste Chile!

As I mentioned in the previous post, I really enjoyed exploring the wines of Chile a couple of weeks ago.  I ended up tasting at a couple of tables that I had never had before, but ended up being the highlights of the tasting for me, thus warranting a separate post.

The two wineries are Loma Larga Vineyards, and Viña El Principal.  Decidedly different from each other, I eagerly anticipate their arrivals in our local market.

Loma Larga Vineyards

Loma Larga Vineyards is located in the Casablanca Valley and has been producing a variety of wines for the last ten years or so.  I had a chance to sample through all their offerings with their winemaker, Cedric Nicolle and found each the wines to be unique from almost all the others in the room.

Chardonnay 2009, Casablanca Valley – made with no malolactic fermentation, and spending 9-10 months on 30% new oak, there’s beautiful apple and pear with some nice herb hints.  Delicious!

Lomas Del Valle Chardonnay 2009 Casablanca Valley – Chablis style, very clean with great mineral and tight citrus.

Merlot 2008, Casablanca Valley – Beautiful green leaf and dark berry on the nose with full raspberry on the palate.  This will make a merlot lover out of me.

Cabernet Franc 2007, Casablanca Valley – This was my favorite of the line up, a unique wine, full of fresh cracked pepper and nice currants. You definitely get a sense of a Loire influence on this wine.  Mmm…

These wines will all apparently be $17-28 when they hit the shelf; in my mind this equals fantastic value for unique wines.

El Principal

El Principal is a partnership between the owner of Hacienda El Principal and the owner of Chateau Pavie in St. Emillion.  The wines are being grown at elevation in the Maipo Valley at the foot of the Andes Mountains.  The focus is on only three wines based on Cabernet and Carménère.

Calicanto 2008 Maipo Valley – A blend of 63% Cab and 37% Carménère, spice draws you in from the first sniff.  Beautiful mint and pepper followed by plum and currants.  Great value – $20

Memorias 2007 – 80% Cab and 20% Carm, this one have much more of a vegetal and peppery nose that is followed up by a whack of juicy cassis and some nice oak through the finish.  My fave of the three – $38

– Cab is upped to 83% on this one and 18 months on new oak pumps up a lovely earthy, toasty nose with exceptionally elegant dark plum and cherry with almost a floral hint.  Maybe this one is my favorite?  $70.

Both of these wineries were true highlights where lovely wine was shared by folks who are clearly committed to showing the diversity of terroir and varietals in Chile.  Look for these wines!

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Taste Chile 2010, Vancouver

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the “Taste Chile” event held at the former Storyeum in Gastown.  The tasting gave me a chance to re-connect with the wines of Chile, as I have somewhat neglected these choices lately in favour of the Old World wines my palate has come to crave.

The afternoon began with a sit-down tutorial of 13 wines of biodynamic and organic origin.  The discussion began with a rather lengthy overview of the process of biodynamics, perhaps a little more detailed than was necessary given the short time frame and solid knowledge base of those in attendance.

The first two wines sparked quite a debate over whether or not organic means better wine.  This waged on for quite a period of time, and while interesting, did move the focus away from the actual tasting tutorial.  That said, the topic is of great interest.  Many of the wines do not state that they are in fact organic and biodynamic anywhere on their labels.  It appears they want the wines to speak louder than the process.

Interesting…   The discussion then moved to “does the fact that it is organic mean that it is better wine?”  At this point I reflected back to the words of Alan Meadows who asserts that “organic and biodynamic ultimately mean greater attention to detail.”  From there, questions about sustainability after production with regard to packaging and shipping were addressed, but it was a little hard to hear, as the room had no PA.

These are all very interesting topics surrounding the ethics of wine.  The conclusions I drew from this were that Chile has quite an opportunity in its grasp.   The fact that the world particularly our local community has amorous pursuit of all things organic (a good thing for sure, provided our eyes are wide open), and the market is such that many of these wines are truly exceptional values for under $20.

Given the extended discussion, the actual guided part of tasting the remaining 11 wines was packed into the last 20 or so minutes.  At this point, most in the room had self-guided through what proved to be some really interesting choices.  A few of my favorites included:

Emiliana Vineyards Adobe Chardonnay 2010 – Really crisp and clean with nice mineral citrus and grassy.  For $16 this is a really nice wine for a seafood dinner.

Nativa Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 – Great spice on the nose, loads of mint, and almost cumin hints.  Really dark cherry and currant through to a nice balanced finish.

Vina San Pedro Tarapaca Tarapaca Plus 2008 – Again, this has a really nice spice mix on the nose with pine, rosemary and tobacco with a hint of orange peel after a swirl.  Just a few sniffs of this one sold me, and for $20 I’ll be on the lookout for this one.

The tasting room itself had a fantastic layout, but as with the Playhouse festival last year, the low lighting was a challenge in approaching the wines.  The wineries ringed the room, with a few specialty stations in the center.

Highlights for me included:


Chardonnay dominated my white tasting, and I really enjoyed the mix of unoaked, Chablis styles and the more toasty rich ones.  Some highlights included:

  • Amanya Chardonnay, 2008 Ledya Valley
  • Errazuriz Wild Ferment Chardonnay, 2009 Aconcagua Valley
  • Montes Alpha Chardonnay, 2008 Colchagua Valley


The reds were a great mix of Cabs, Carménère and tasty blends.  Standouts for me included:

  • Errazuriz Don Maximiano 2006, Aconcagua Valley
  • De Martino Single Vineyard “El Leon” Carignan 2007 Maule Valley
  • Vina Santa Alicia Millantu Premium Red Wine 2006 Maipo Valley
  • Viu Manent Malbec Single Vineyard San Carlos 2008 Colchagua Valley

The whole tasting was a great way to revisit some tasty value wines that are paying close attention to the land from which they grown.  Thanks to CCLTD for a really enjoyable event.

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2005 Viña Casa Marín Cartagena Sauvignon Blanc, San Antonio Valley

02102009This is the second time I’ve picked this wine up from Kitsilano Wine Cellars in the last while… and I wanted to write it up because it’s quite the unique drop of juice.

Normally, when I think of (or drink) a Sauvignon Blanc, I think crisp, grassy and fruity with a mineral edge. This is a completely different SB. Instead of the usual grassy acidity, it’s got a load of honey-soaked wheat flavour followed by a medium-long and earthy finish that is full-bodied and a bit hot (it’s carrying 14.5% booze). Overall, it is really tasty and pretty well-balanced.

Do I like it? Hell yeah. It’s a tasty bottle of wine and is completely different from the usual Sauvignon Blanc – in a good way.

$26 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars.

4 stars

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2004 Viña Echeverría Carmenère Central Valley Reserva

Carmenère is an interesting grape. It started out as primarily a blending grape in France, but kinda’ fell out of favour… until the folks in Chile recently started putting it into a starring role. Folks down there like Errazuriz and these folks really do it justice.

And what’s this wine like? Well, it’s a jammy mix of ripe juicy plums and dark berries as well as some coffee and tobacco, which finishes with a slightly earthy edge – that pretty much sums up both the nose and the flavours.

What I’d really like to note is how this wine explodes in the mouth with its ripe fruit and coffee flavours Wow. It’s like sitting on a patio with a waft of cigar smoke while enjoying a mouthful of black cherry and blackberry juice followed by a sip of espresso. Yum.

Kirk at Kitsilano Wine Cellars pointed me toward this wine. Thanks Kirk!

Great stuff for the money.

$23 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars.

4 stars


WBW #40 – 2004 Carmen Reserve Petite Sirah, Valle del Maipo

12112007.jpgEven though I’ve been writing this site for over 2 years, I’ve never taken part in Wine Blogging Wednesday. So, when I read that Petite Sirah was the focus of WBW #40, I decided to finally bite the bullet… Thing is, I’ve always had a soft spot for Petite Sirah. It’s often used as a blending grape in many of my favourite Zinfandels and blends to add colour and depth and can occasionally be outstanding on its own. A couple of the best I’ve had were on visits to Napa at Ridge Vineyards in Sonoma and at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars (when they were still making their delicious take on the grape). In other parts of the world, it’s also known as the Durif grape.

A while back, I reviewed the tasty Concannon Petite Sirah, but haven’t had a 100% version of the wine since… Well, WBW #40 made me change that… and I’m all for change when it comes to what I’m tasting. 🙂

12112007a.jpgI wandered into a downtown specialty LDB store today, briefly considered the 2004 Stag’s Leap Winery Petite Sirah (not to be confused with Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars), but was looking for something more in the $20 – 40 CDN range. I settled on the 2004 Carmen Reserve Petite Sirah, took it home opened it, gave it a few hours to breathe… and now I’m sipping.

It’s a 100% Petite Sirah from the Maipo Valley region of Chile. In the glass it’s an inky purple-red, with a nose that smells like it looks. For lack of a better word, it smells “purple” – there’s licorice, violets, dark berries, dark chocolate and a distinct vanilla edge from the new French oak barrels in which the wine was aged. A big ‘ol sip gives up juicy licorice-edged dark berries, that dark chocolate and a distinctly spicy and vanilla-edged finish. It’s carrying 14% booze, but does so nicely… there’s no “hot” edge to the wine.

I really like this wine. It doesn’t blow my mind, but it’s a bloody tasty drop for the moolah. My usual judgment is whether I’d buy a wine again… and yep, I would.

OK, so I might be posting a few hours early (on the West coast), but it’s already Wednesday in many places. 🙂

$29 at LDB stores here in BC.

4 stars


2005 Viña Tarapacá La Cuesta Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz, Maipo Valley

12042007.jpgWhen I was given this wine as a sample, I was pretty cynical… I can’t remember the last time I had a red wine at this price that I enjoyed at all. Well folks, this is pretty damn good for the money.

I’ll get right down to it. Yep, it’s red and is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Shiraz… with a nose that gives up a bunch of dark cherry, chocolate and cassis. A juicy sip shows all that dark fruit, with a meaty and coffee-edged mint finish. It’s just tasty.

I had it tonight with a couple of lamb sausages from Oyama in the Granville Island Public Market. Toss in some Tarragon roasted potatoes and grilled red peppers and you’ve got a wine and food match that works it, folks.

This is a great value red wine.

$13.99 at LDB stores here in BC.

3 1/2 stars

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Wine – 2004 Laura Hartwig Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva

11152007a.jpgOn my trip to the big city (downtown) this weekend, Sean and I made a quick stop at Kitsilano Wine Cellars and I picked this up on recommendation from Matt. We discussed the thoughts of pairing this one with nice steak, but after a particularly nasty meal at the local Moxie’s (don’t ask me what I was thinking) last night, I figured I was due for a nice glass once I got home.

This was a nice pick-me-up for sure. There was nice tart blueberry on the first swirl, a bit of heat and some brown sugar – a good start. More blueberry and some savoury spice filled my mouth as I sat, my post meal mood rapidly improving. The finish had nice tight, chalky tannins and a little more heat. Tastes like another glass.

Plain and simple, I like this wine. I would say a GOOD steak would certainly be a fantastic accompaniment, however good old breaths of air paired nicely for me. I was certainly happier after a couple of glasses of this one.

~$23 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars.

3 1/2 stars


Wine – 2006 Leyda Cahuil Vineyard Pinot Noir

Wow… I’m just getting over one of those annoying Autumn colds and can finally taste wine again (thank GOD!). I missed it. 🙂

OK, so I grabbed this at Kitsilano Wine Cellars last week and had been looking forward to quaffing it. What a tasty welcome back to wine. It tastes a lot like a decent Oregon Pinot, at a (somewhat) fraction of the price.

The colour is a medium red, with a juicy nose that pushes out vanilla, berry, cherries and cranberry fruit… with a bit of heat (it has 14% booze). The flavours are a great combination of vanilla, berry, cherry, pepper and herbal notes… bloody tasty stuff. It has layers and layers and a finish that lasts for a while.

I loved this wine, especially for the money – It’s a fantastic value.

$29.90 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars here in Vancouver.

4 stars

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Wine – 2005 Anakena Single Vineyard Viognier, Rapel Valley

07222007.jpgI love Viognier of all styles as the range is quite broad and interesting. Recently I have had a couple of bottles of the 2006 La Frenz offering and liked it, but I was looking for something without the residual sweetness that characterizes La Frenz’s Viognier.

I chose this one based on some of the samples from Anakena I had tasted at previous festivals. This is really tasty, and would complement shellfish amazingly.

The first sniff showed tasty peach and apricot with some toasty oak overtones. A couple of healthy sips and my mouth was full of some nice citrus zest and some melon to boot. The finish was soft, dry and toasty, leading me to think, “mmmm… grilled scallops with lemon and cracked chilies“. Good stuff.

$19.99 at private wine shops here in Vancouver.

4 stars

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Wine – 2005 Villard Estates Expresión Reserve Sauvignon Blanc

07172007.jpgFor the past few weeks, Tuesday night has turned into sushi night (from KOKO Japanese Restaurant on East Hastings here in Vancouver – if you’ve never been, you have to go; it’s been in the same family for 25 years and the quality is GREAT… thanks to my friend Erin for introducing me to it!). I pick up the food, bring it home and we have it with a bottle of wine. I’m liking this new ritual.

Anyhoo… what the sushi calls for is a wine that matches well with the fish, but it also runs into our personal desire(s) to have it grab us by our taste buds and make us buy it again. Although this wine was decent, it’s not one that we’ll be buying again anytime soon.

It has the regular SB pale, almost clear straw yellow colour. Its nose is actually the best part of the experience – it shows a tonne of citrus and tropical fruit as well as a bit of heat from the 14% booze.

It’s when the wine reaches your mouth that it disappoints… it just lacks that certain “oomph” at which the nose hinted. There is the mineral-laced fruit and a nice honey-tinged finish, but the wine lacked that middle structure – the zip and zing that the best Sauvignon Blancs have.

It is good, but there are a lot of other SB’s I’d rather be pairing with my meals. For the money, I’m still all over the 2006 Babich or the Brumont Gros Manseng-Sauvignon (I have to review the 2006 here soon).

$20 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars.

3 stars

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