Browsing the archives for the Chile tag

Varietal Voyage No.18 – 2007 Terra Andina Merlot

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Varietal Voyage

Wow!  It’s been a long time since I posted something new on the Varietal Voyage.  Things have been crazy at home and work making it difficult to find time to write.  Rest assured, we are back on our journey.

The last wine we tasted on the Varietal Voyage was Château Grand Destieu, a merlot from St. Emilion.  This week’s wine is the last merlot on our list: Terra Andina’s  2007 Merlot.

Terra Andina, a subsidiary of the Claro Group, is one of Chile’s largest wine producers making a wide variety of wines from vineyards across Chile’s diverse geography and climates.  Chief winemaker, Oscar Salas, took the reigns from his mentor Stefano Gandolini in 2008.  Trained in California and in some of Chile’s most famous wineries, Oscar is well versed in New World winemaking techniques and technologies. But his approach to winemaking is decidedly Old World with a focus on balance and finesse allowing natural flavors and aromas to shine through.

The 2007 Merlot is from Terra Andina’s Varietals collection, an affordable line of wines highlighting the character and expression of not only merlot, but other international varieties such as cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, carmenère, sauvignon blanc and chardonnay.

On the label you’ll notice the Denominación de Origen, or DO on the label says that this wine comes from Chile’s Central Valley, a large region containing the sub-regions of the Maipo, Rapel, Curicó, and Maule Valleys (Terra Andina has a handy map identifying these regions as well as many others).  This label means that the grapes in this wine can come from anywhere within the Central Valley.  This allows the winemakers to chose the best fruit from a wide selection of terroirs, which is fairly common with affordable wines like this one.   Normally this is done to keeps costs down, but it also helps the winemaker to keep a consistent flavor profile from vintage to vintage.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that because this wine is affordable ($9) that it is somehow less than delicious.  Chile is known for making quality wines at very low prices and 2007 Merlot is no exception.  It’s dark ruby color is deep and rich.  Fragrant aromas of ripe blackberries and plums are enhanced by peppery spice.  The medium-bodies flavors of blackcurrant and cocoa are bold and straightforward with faint hints of creamy vanilla lurking in the background.  The finish is somewhat short and clean but pleasing nonetheless.

2007 Terra Andina Merlot ($9)

  • Approx. 85% merlot, 15% mystery grape (my guess is cabernet sauvignon or possibly carménère)
  • Central Valley, Chile
  • Producer’s Fact Sheet

Varietal Voyage – See how it started…

2008 Tabali Reserva Especial Pinot Noir

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Tasting Note

Last night was the official grand opening for Grapes & Tastes, the new wine shop in Cedarburg.  The owners, Brad and Joni, were busy greeting the public and making sure everyone felt welcome.  Sue and I perused shelves full of interesting (and affordable) bottles from around the world while sampling some curious South African wines and nibbling on delicious hors d’oeuvres. Eric, a member of G & T’s friendly and very knowledgeable staff, greeted us and asked all of the right questions, looking to discover our particular tastes.  He quickly steered us to a several selections suited to our palates and our budget. We took Eric’s advice and picked a young Chilean pinot noir and some gourmet cheese to pair with it.  I’m happy to say that Eric’s suggestion was spot on.  The 2008 Tabali Reserva Especial Pinot Noir ($22) is excellent!  Here is a little bit about Tabali…

The Tabali vineyards and winery are in the Limari Valley, one of Chile’s most northern grape growing regions.  On the edge of the Valle del Encanto (Enchanted Valley), Tabali’s vineyards grow in a sunny, semi-arid climate kept in check by the high altitude and cooling effects of fog that flows in every morning from the Pacific Ocean. This tempering of the climate keeps the grapes from ripening too quickly and produces wines of great depth and character.

Tasting Notes:

I’m happy we took Eric’s advice. This wine has all of the characteristics of a fine pinot noir at a very affordable price.  Soft, fruity aromas of cherries and strawberries amplify juicy flavors of strawberries and tart cranberries with bright acidity. Ten months of aging in French oak barrels creates a lingering toasty finish of vanilla and peppery spice.

Thanks to the entire G&T team for the fun experience.

Stealing Time For Some Great Wine

Tasting Note

After running a few errands in downtown Milwaukee, I found that I had a little time on my hands.  It had been a while since I visited the Public Market so I decided to stop in at the Thief Wine Shop & Bar and sample a few wines.  With several hours before the start of Gallery Night (our local quarterly art review), the owners, Phil and Aimee were already busy serving patrons. Once I found a spot to settle down, I selected a few interesting wines from their wide assortment of wines by the glass, flight, or bottle.

The first wine I tried was a young, but elegant  pinot noir from New Zealand’s Marlborough region.  The 2008 Oyster Bay Pinot Noir ($17.50) has everything you would expect from a cool climate pinot noir with its bright acidity and tart red fruit flavors.  Hidden in the pale ruby color are fragrant flavors of ripe cranberries, cherries and pomegranate with the softest hints of tannin.  Don’t let the light color fool you.  This pinot noir has a pleasant body and mouthfeel with a generous backbone of crisp acidity.

Next up was a Chilean carménère born in the foothills of the Andes mountains.  The 2007 Terra Andina Reserva Carménère ($11.50) was a world apart from the delicate kiwi pinot noir. Terra Andina makes this wine from 100% carménère grown in the Rapel Valley near Santiago.  With deep red and violet hues, its aromas are alive with plums, black currants and blackberries, backed up with layers of cedar and spice.  Its balanced flavors and rich body are enhanced by soft tannins that build throughout the lengthy finish.

The third wine on the list is from Napa Valley.  Madrigal’s 2006 Zinfandel ($17.50) is even bigger and bolder than the previous two wines.  Located in Calistoga at the northern tip of Napa Valley, the winemakers at Madrigal get their grapes from some of the best zinfandel vineyards in the valley. In true zinfandel style, this is a juicy, fruit-forward powerhouse!  Heady aromas of black raspberries and dark cherries fold into rich layers of vanilla and spice.  The flavors are full-bodied, delivering a punch of spicy red berries wrapped in vanilla and caramel following up with a generous finish of pepper and cocoa.

To finish out the quartet, I selected a Spanish sherry from González Byass.  “Solera 1847″ Oloroso Dulce ($11.95) is a sweet sherry made from Palomino and Pedro Ximénez (sometimes called “PX”).  The name of this sherry comes from original solera laid down in 1847 by González and Byass in Jerez, Spain. Within its golden brown, coffee-like tones are alluring scents of raisins, figs, and orange peel blended with a myriad of woody spices.  Creamy flavors of toffee, vanilla and dried fruits are balanced with soft acidity that ties it all together.  Perfect for a cold January afternoon!

Root:1 Carménère 2007

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Tasting Note

I read about this grape variety just recently and the history was fascinating. Considered to be “lost Bordeaux” grape, it was thought to be extinct after the phylloxera plague that decimated European vineyards in the 1860′s. Fortunately cuttings of the vine made their way to Chile in the 19th century and have thrived there ever since. Up until the 20th century it was thought to be Merlot. Just recently was it’s true identity rediscovered.

This Carménère blend has a strong, clean red color (the root of the French word Carménère is “carmin” or “crimson”) with juicy aromas and flavors of black fruit (blackberries, plum?) and spice. Good acidity with very light tannins. Short, clean finish that reminded me a little of green, bell peppers.

Root:1 Carménère 2007 ($16)