William Cole Vineyards Columbine Special Reserve Sauvignon Blanc

William Cole Vineyards Columbine Special Reserve Sauvignon BlancThe William Cole estate is situated in the Casablanca Valley, near the city of Casablanca.   There is also a William Cole Vineyards in St. Helena, California, but the wineries are unrelated.  William Cole Vineyards, the Chilean version, is owned and operated by William Cole, while William Cole Vineyards in St. Helena is owned and operated by William Ballentine, along with his family, including a son named Cole.  But that’s neither here, nor there.
William Cole Vineyards (the one in Casablanca, Chile) produces an array of traditional varietals, along with Carménére.  Their sauvignon blanc is sourced from cooler micro-climates that, William Cole claims, enable the wine to retain a natural acidity.  The grapes are destemmed and fermented in stainless steel tanks for a period of 15 days. Read more

Calcu Cabernet Sauvignon

Calcu Cabernet SauvignonContinuing with the cabernet sauvignon theme, today we’re checking out another Chilean cabernet from the Colchagua Valley province in Chile.
We’ve reviewed a few additional Calcu wines, such as their malbec and their red blend, and we’ve found them to be generally decent.  They’ve not necessarily knocked our socks off, but they’re subdue excellent.  And that trend continues with this cabernet.
While this wine is labeled as cabernet sauvignon, it also has 10% carmenere (which adds a touch of Chilean uniqueness to the wine) and 10% petit verdot (which adds a touch of awesomeness to the wine). Read more


AnkaWe’ve been reviewing a number of cabernet sauvignons lately, but one wine we’ve come across that we really like is not quite a cabernet sauvignon, but rather is a red blend that is dominant in cabernet sauvignon.  Anka is a blend of 57% cabernet sauvignon, 16% merlot, 15% cabernet franc, 7% carmemere, 4%  syrah, and 1 % petit verdot.  While a number of wines labeled as “cabernet sauvignon” have more than just that grape in them, technically than can be labeled as a single varietal if they have a minimum percentage of that one varietal.  In Chile, where this wine is from, the minimum is 75%, so clearly this one is a blend.
Another thing you might notice on the mark of this one is that it is “made with organically grown grapes.”  It can’t technically be labeled as “organic wine” because they use sulphites in the winemaking administer.  And in fact, as I look at the wording I have to raise an eyebrow.  ”Made with organically grown grapes” not made “of” or made “from” organically grown grapes.  I’m not quite sure what they’re saying.  Are there a few organically grown grapes or are they all organically grown?  It looks like some careful language to me, but I’m just preoccupied questions here… I haven’t had the opportunity to talk with them to confirm how they made it.
So, you can mark me as a bone idle journalist
This is a rather small production wine too, with less than 2,500 suitcases produced.  And regardless of all the stuff written on the mark I can tell you one vital thing about this wine that’s not on the mark.  It’s really tasty!When I first poured this wine, the oak was the only thing that came through on the nose.  And it came through like walking into my wood shop.  But after letting the wine breath for a moment the fruit came out of its shell and brought together a solid and well balanced nose.  Black cherry, blackberry, cassis, chocolate and nutmeg aromas blend perfectly and make smelling this wine really enjoyable.  The palate has a silky smooth feel with loads of deeply-concentrated, ripe fruit flavors, such as blackberry, plum, cherry and chocolate.  The end is long and tastes like a chocolate roofed cherry.   This is a lovely wine.
Wine: Anka
Variety: Red Blend
Vintage: 2008
Alcohol: 14%
Rating: 90
Fee: $20.00 Read more

Calcu Rosé

Calcu RoséWe’ve been reviewing a lot of sparkling rosé wines lately, but rosé can also be a fantastic wine in subdue form.  This one from Calcu comes from the Colchagua Valley in Chile, one of my favorite wine regions when it comes to finding fantastic values.
If you closed your eyes and smelled this wine you might guess it to be a sauvignon blanc, due to the intense tropical fruit aromas.  But this wine is 55% malbec, 35% syrah, and 10% petit verdot — varietals much more associated with deep, dark, rich wines than a dry, acidic and tropical rosé. Read more

Apaltagua Rosé Carmenere

Apaltagua Rosé CarmenereOne of the things that makes wine such a fun beverage (besides the obvious) is the vast variety of option out there.  It’s always fun to try something new, or as in this case, try a varietal you’ve tasted previous to vinified in a really different way.
Carmenere is the lost grape of Bordeaux that was rediscovered in Chile.  It is typically used to make tasty, dark red wines.  But here’s a fun rosé version of this varietal that is in fact quite awesome! Read more

Maquis Cabernet Sauvignon

Maquis Cabernet SauvignonA lot of the wines that I review seem to have a similar tale.  A family owns a vineyard for generations and recently renovated their winery, blah, blah, blah.  Well, the tale in the rear Maquis has a slightly different twist.  Yes, it’s a vineyard that has been owned by the same family for over 100 years.  But for most of that time, the family that owns this vineyard only produced grapes for additional vintners.  It wasn’t until about ten years ago that they chose to make some of their own wine from the grapes they grow.
They built a new “gravity flow” winery to produce their wine.  That essentially means that the winery is designed to use gravity to go the wine through the administer rather than pumping the wine from place to place.  The theory is that it treats the wine more gently, making a better product.  For example, during the initial crush you don’t really want to “crush” the grapes but gently crack them open and let the juice escape.  If you were to truly crush the wine, you might also crush the seeds within the grapes adding bitter flavors to the wine.
Since 2005, winemaker Xavier Choné has been consulting with Maquis to help them take better advantage of location within their vineyards in Colchagua Valley.  Choné works with vineyards around the world and is associated with some fantastic wines, like Opus One, and Maquis is the only South American vineyard he’s working with. Read more

Cool Climate Red Wines from Chile

Cool Climate Red Wines from ChileA few weeks ago, I had an opportunity to take part in a Chilean wine tasting with several additional wine bloggers around the country.  It was a virtual tasting, meaning that we were connected “effectively” not that we effectively tasted… we really did taste the wines.  But we were connected via a web talks with all the additional bloggers participating and with the winemakers in Chile.  I’ve done a few of these previous to, and it’s always an fascinating way to taste and learn about a few new wines.
The theme for this tasting was “cool climate reds,” which means red wines produced in cool climate regions.  You see, some grape varieties perform better with cool conditions versus hot.  And some just perform differently.  In this tasting, it was pinot noir and syrah.  Pinot noir is exclusively a cool climate variety, as too much heat ruins these grapes.  Syrah, on the additional hand, can be produced in cool or warmer climates, but the results are different.
Some of the best wine growing regions are coastal, like Chile, and the cool, maritime influence is huge part of what makes these regions excellent for growing wine grapes.  But there is a lot of variation in climate within these regions, making some areas that are better, consistent cool climate regions as well as some warmer micro-climates.  For a number of years, Chile has had a excellent reputation for producing exceptional cool-climate colorless wines, but it’s really only been within the last five years or so that they’ve done well with cool-climate reds, like pinot noir.  And there’s certainly more to come.
Given the background for this tasting, these were not tasted blind.  Here are my notes.
Valdivieso 2009 Pinot Noir Reserva Read more

Veramonte Pinot Noir

Veramonte Pinot NoirThe weather has started to turn to autumn here and that means it’s time to start drinking some pinot noir!  Let’s start the pinot noir exploration with one from Chile.
Five years ago, if you had offered me a Chilean pinot noir I probably would have reluctantly tried it without expecting much.  But things are varying when it comes to chilean pinot.  They’ve figured out what works for pinot noir in their terroir and they’re producing some nice pinot these days.
Pinot noir is a cool climate grape and Chile’s Casablanca Valley is an exceptional cool climate appellation.  And that’s where this Veramonte pinot noir is produced. Read more