Chilean Wine – A Brief History

ChileanWines

After WWII, Chilean wine production declined dramatically, and the Chilean exports were reduced to a few large producers.

However in the 1980s, there were changes in the government’s economic policies and a renewed interest from international wine makers, which started a resurgence of the wine industry in Chile.  One of the key international players was Spain’s Miguel Torres, who purchased a vineyard in Chile and introduced modern wine making technologies to the Chilean wine makers.  Torres was a key inspiration of Alfonso Chadwick Errázuriz of Vina Errázuriz, who spent a great deal of time in Europe to gain recognition for Chilean wine.  He organized the “Berlin Tasting” in 2004, which pitted prestigious French and Italian wines against 6 Chilean wines.  To the surprise of all, two of Errázuriz’s wine came in first and second place, beating out the famed Chateau Lafite.   Even with renewed international appreciation, the Chilean wine industry continued to be dominated by larger wineries such as Concha y Toro.  However,  recently there is a push to provide more opportunities for smaller, artisanal producers, with organizations such as MOVI and VIGNO.

In the coming weeks,  I will be traveling to Chile, and I hope to share with you much more insight and inspiration for drinking Chilean wines.  Salud!

Photo Credit: Food & Beverage Magazine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chilean Wine Varietals

 

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Chile has a long history of wine production, dating back to the 16th century, when the Spanish  colonists brought vitis vinifer.  Later various French varieties were imported, and in the 20th century, Chile established itself as an important player in the global wine market.  Vineyards can be found throughout the country, growing both red and white grapes.  The most common varietals are:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Merlot
  • Chardonnay
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Carménère
  • Syrah
  • Pinot Noir
  • Carignan

Although Cabernet Sauvignon is the most widely planted grape,  Carménère has become the signature grape of Chile.  Originally a French variety, it was believed to have been lost during the  phylloxera epidemic in Europe, but was rediscovered in Chile in the 1990s.  You can read more about Carménère in last year’s April Grape of the Month post.

For more information about Chilean Wine…

http://www.seriouseats.com/2015/07/beginners-guide-to-chilean-wine.html

http://www.winesofchile.org/en/wineries-trade-ted

http://www.chilean-wine.com/chileanwinecountry/

http://www.jancisrobinson.com/learn/wine-regions/chile

http://www.winemag.com/gallery/understanding-chiles-wine-regions/

http://winefolly.com/review/the-best-wines-to-try-from-chile/

Tasting Menu at Semilla

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Last weekend I had the pleasure of enjoying a lovely tasting menu at Semilla, an 18 seat restaurant in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  The food was vegetable focused and delightfully inventive.  We added on the drink menu for the full experience.  The wines were impressive in age, variety, and suitability for the meal.  I was so busy enjoying the wonderful  wine and food that I did not take adequate notes or pictures, but here are a few highlights…

I was thrilled to start the meal with a 27 year old German Riesling (Wallufer Oberberg Kabinett Halbtrocken, J.B. Becker, 1990, Rheingau, Germany).  This is probably the oldest wine that I have drunk, and it was wonderful.  The aging really mellowed the sweetness and added depth to the wine, so it was perfect for the subtle, earthy sweetness of the Beet Tartare.  My favorite course of the evening was the salt-crusted sunchokes.  These were served with a Chardonnay (Les Ammonites, Domaine Buronfosse, 2014, Jura, France).  Although, I’m not always a fan of Chardonnay, this was unoaked and balanced out the saltiness of the dish quite nicely.  The meal finished off with two lovely desserts (and who doesn’t want  two desserts? ).   I’ve included the full menu below and would highly recommend an evening at Semilla for a night of creative and delicious dishes.

Menu from 2/2/17

Apple & Smoked Mozzarella Soup

Beet Tartare with Pickled Chanterelles & Whole Wheat Crackers

Salt Crusted Sunchokes with Fermented Ramp Aioli

Rice & Peas with Crab & Bergamot

Butternut Squash with Za’atar & Squash Vinegar

Celeriac Tart with Pickled Okra & Green Coriander Vinaigrette

Burnt Cabbage Roll with Preserved Lemon & Coffee Jus

Sunflower Seed Ice Cream with Meyer Lemon & Flowers

Angelica Semifreddo with Hazelnuts & Pickled Blueberries

Wine online

Wine clubs have been around for a while, and they only seem to be gaining in popularity.  As an obvious wino, I started receiving some targeted ads online for various wine subscription sites.  With the incentive of wine AND discount codes, I decided to try out a few…

Naked Wines funds independent winemakers and then sells those wines directly to their members.  I loved their mission and was happy to be investing in new winemakers; plus, there wines were delicious.  However, due to shipping restrictions to New York, I was only able to buy wines from domestic winemakers, which was disappointing.  Also, I had to order a full case (12 bottles) at a time, which was a bit more than I wanted to order on a regular basis. (No set price, pay by the bottle)

Naked Wines tasting notes:
Jacqueline Bahue Cabernet Franc
F. Stephen Miller Black Label
Cabernet Sauvignon Foothills Reserve
Bruno Chenin Blanc
Angels Reserve Merlot
JC Van Staden Pinot Noir
S&A Amador Touriga

VineBox is a monthly subscription that sends 3 pours of  wines from international wineries that are exclusively imported by Vinebox.  It was so convenient to have these individual pours around the house for those evenings when I didn’t want to open a full bottle. It also provided the opportunity to try some rather fancy wines. ($35/month)

Winc is a wine club that makes their own wines, sourced from small batch vineyards around the world.  I enjoyed the wide range of grape varietals, and they provided good tasting notes with videos. (No set price, pay by the bottle)

Winc tasting notes:
Supercluster
Porter& Plot Grenache Blanc
One From The Quiver Torrentes

Wine Awesomeness is another wine club.  Each month the box has a different theme or “adventure”.   They provide extensive notes, as well as suggested pairings and recipes and even music playlists. ($45/month)

Overall, the main perk to buying wine online was the availability of wine made by unique producers.  However, the shipping regulations and the need to sign for the packages cancelled out the convenience of delivery.  Lastly, I missed visiting my local wine shop(s), where I can attend tastings and talk with the staff, so for now, I’m cancelling my subscriptions.

 

2016 Grapes in Review

 

The past year, I investigated many different grape varietals, so here is the year of the grape in review.

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Merlot:  A red skinned grape that originated in the Bordeaux region of France.  Common flavors/aromas: Plum, Chocolate, Cherry, Blackberry, Strawberry, Current, Vanilla, Clove, Tobacco, Cedar.

Zweigelt:  An Austrian grape that is also grown in Croatia, New York State, and California. Common flavors/aromas: Cherry, Raspberry.

Carménère:  A red grape that is most commonly grown in Chile, but was originally from France.  Common flavors/aromas: Raspberry, Cherry, Green Pepper, Smoke, Earth

Pinot:  Pinot Noir is the red varietal, and Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc are mutations of the red grape.

Sémillon:  A popular white grape from the Bordeaux region of France and commonly used in dessert wines. Common flavors/aromas: Lemon, Apple, Peach, and Oak flavors.

Chenin Blanc:  A white French grape from the Loire Valley. Common flavors/aromas: Apple, Pineapple, Nectarine, Honey.

Torrontés:  The most popular grape from Argentina.  Common flavors/aromas: Lemon, Peach, Rose Petals, White Flowers.

Grenache:  Originally from Spain where it is called Garnacha, this grape is now very prevalent in France.   Common flavors/aromas: Strawberries, Raspberries, Cinnamon, Black Pepper.

Touriga Nacional:  A red grape almost exclusively grown in Portugal. Common flavors/aromas: Berries, Violets, Vanilla, Mint.

Gamay:  The main grape from the Beaujolais Region in France.  Common flavors/aromas: Raspberry, Cherry, Currants, Earthy, Floral notes.

Cabernet:  Cabernet Franc, a French red grape, is one of the parent grapes of  Cabernet Sauvignon.  Common flavors/aromas of Cabernet Franc:  Strawberry, Bell peppers, Violet, Licorice. Similarly, common flavors/aromas of Cabernet Sauvignon: Cherry, Currant, Bell pepper, Mint.

 

 

 

 

Tasting Notes – Jacqueline Bahue Cabernet Franc

 

Producer:  Jacqueline Bahue
Region: Sonoma County, CA, USA
Grape Varieties: Cabernet Franc
Vintage2014
Overall Rating:  
Pairing: Moliterno with Truffles, an Italian cheese made from sheep’s milk.  The truffle flavor in the cheese was a great pairing for the smokiness of this wine, and the cheese also cut the tannins a bit.

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Sight
Color: Purplish/Ruby
Brightness: Dull

Aroma
Intensity: Low/Moderate/
Age: Some Age
Scent: Cherries and Leather

Palate
Dry/Sweet: Dry
Body: Medium/Medium-Full
Acidity: Fresh
Tannin: Medium
Flavors:  Cherries, maybe some blackberries and a bit of smokey/tobacco flavor

Tasting Notes – F. Stephen Millier Black Label

Name: Black Label
Producer: F. Stephen Millier
Region: California
Grape Varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon
Vintage2014
Overall Rating:  ☆☆
Pairing:  I went with the classic pairing of a burger and and a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.  The burger was from Bareburger and the wine is from one of the Naked Wines producers.  It was a nice Cab Sauv – medium bodied, a bit acidic, and some tannins, which stood up to the burger, but my mistake was choosing blue cheese on the burger, which wasn’t an ideal match with the sour cherry flavor.

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Sight
Color: Purplish
Brightness: Dull/Opaque

Aroma
Intensity: Moderate
Age: Some Age
Scent: Cherries, but also something a little chemically

Palate
Dry/Sweet: Dry
Body: Medium/
Acidity: Fresh
Tannin: Low/Medium
Flavors: Cherries, but sour, with some cinnamon spice, but also an herbal quality