Calcu Malbec

Calcu MalbecArgentine malbec has become so well loved recently that I get the impression that a lot of consumers assume that all malbec comes from Argentina.  But not so.  Malbec is in fact in fact one of the six Bordeaux varietals, although its popularity in Bordeaux has faded much in the past 50-some years.  It is, but, very well loved in Cahors, France.  And with the popularity Argentine malbec has seen in recent years, additional parts of the world are tiresome out this varietal more and more.  The malbec we’re reviewing today comes from the Colchagua Valley in Chile.
In general, Chilean malbec has a tendency to be more tannic than Argentine.  But this one wasn’t overly tannic and most importantly, it was excellent. Read more

Apaltagua Reserva Malbec

Apaltagua Reserva MalbecI’ve commented in previous reviews that not all malbec comes from Argentina.  Today we have the opportunity to check out one from Chile, the Maule Valley province to be more specific.
This malbec is from Apaltagua, not an unfamiliar brand to us.  We’ve reviewed a few of their additional wines and found them to be nice, so we were certainly curious to see what they would do with a malbec. Read more

Meli Carignan, Different and Exciting

Meli Carignan, Different and ExcitingEach now and then we come across something we weren’t expecting and that gets us intrigued.  This is one of those suitcases.  It’s a carignan from Chile.
I wouldn’t be surprised to find a carignan from Southern France, or even from a Paso Robles Rhone Ranger.  But I wasn’t expecting to see one from Chile.  And my first draw up when I saw it was that a name was experimenting in Chile, but this is more than an experiment, it comes from 60 year ancient vines!  Yes, this wine has been in Chile for a while.  And that’s a excellent thing because carignan from young vines can in fact be a bit too astringent.  And while this one has a small bit of astringency, it’s not unapproachable. Read more

Apaltagua Envero Gran Reserva

Apaltagua Envero Gran ReservaWe reviewed Apaltagua’s Carménère Reserva back in April and found the wine to be a fine example of new world carménère.  We’ve finally gotten around to reviewing the vintner’s more polished Carménère offering, their 2008 Envero Gran Reserva.  While the Reserva is 100% carménère, the Envero Gran Reserva contains about 7% cabernet sauvignon.  The winery sources their grapes from 60 year-ancient vineyards within the Apalta province in the Colchagua Valley.
So how does the 2008 Gran Reserva stack up against the 2009 Reserva?  To place it simply – very well.  While we liked the Reserva, we like the Gran Reserva.  This is tasty wine.  The 2009 Reserva is dark and rich, and heavily extracted, and while the Envero is also dark, it doesn’t quite have the opaque plum affect of its younger, less expensive sibling.  Give some credit to the additional year in the bottle, along with the cabernet for the deeper cherry red hue of this wine, as well as the much better integration of flavors and tannins. Read more

MontGras Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva

MontGras Cabernet Sauvignon ReservaWe go through a lot of wine in our household.  Now previous to you get the incorrect thought, let me add that it’s usually no more than a glass (roughly 6 – 8 ounces) a day.  But between my wife and me, we can easily consume about 4 – 5 bottles a week.  And as you can imagine, the neighbors just like to hang out at our place, particularly with all the fantastic wine.  So 4 -5 bottles can easily turn into 8 – 9 a week.  That can add up, particularly if you like the expensive stuff.  But having a restaurant in the family has it’s advantages, and none better than being able to buy wine at wholesale!
So, recently we were running a small low, which prompted me to start searching for excellent, high value reds to stock the cellar with.  My dad, who now handles all the wine buying duties at the restaurant, had in fact just sampled the latest MontGras Cabernet, the 2009; and, he recommended that I pick up a case to replenish our stock.  So I splurged, solely on his recommendation, having not tasted the wine.  But I wasn’t too concerned.  I figured that if he thought is was excellent (and he has fantastic taste), that, most importantly, my wife would like it.
So, as I finally got around to tasting the MontGras, and reviewing it here for Cheap Wine Ratings, I noticed that what was once a stock of nine bottles (MontGras Cabernet Sauvignon comes in a nine bottle case) was now only two!  Where did all the MontGras go?  Well, let’s just say my wife really loved it.  But how excellent was it really?  Let’s find out. Read more

Apaltagua Carménère Reserva

Apaltagua Carménère ReservaIf you aren’t familiar with carménère, that’s ok.  You’re probably not alone.  For a varietal that has spent much of the latter part of the 20th century in obscurity, and often confused for Merlot, it’s building a nice comeback in some rather familiar places.  To get you caught up on who is doing some nice work with this classic ancient world varietal, and to get some further background on carménère, check out last year’s carménère round up.
The first thing you notice about Apaltagua’s latest offering is the dark, rich plum affect, that is indicative of the varietal……and rather indicative of highly extracted Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  Indeed this value priced Chilean seems rich and heavily extracted in both advent and nose.  The alcohol number is relatively high compared to ancient-world examples of carménère.  At 14%, the wine isn’t lacking in power and organize.  Apaltagua sources their carménère from the Apalta Valley in Colchagua.  As we’ve stated here previous to, if you haven’t committed Colchagua to memory yet, we recommend that you add it to your list of trusted appellations. Read more

Peñalolen Sauvignon Blanc – A Citrus Bomb!

Peñalolen Sauvignon Blanc – A Citrus Bomb!Since the last review we did was an updated vintage of a wine we’d earlier reviewed, I thought we would continue that trend this week with another.  Not too long ago we reviewed the 2009 Peñalolen Sauvignon Blanc and we’re already checking out the 2010 vintage of this wine.
How can that be?  A 2010 Sauvignon Blanc on the market in early February of 2011.  Well, remember that this one is from Chile and their seasons are opposite of ours.  Therefore the grapes for this wine were in fact harvested in spring of 2010 rather than fall.  Or was it fall in spring?  … I mean is April called “fall” in Chile?  Now that I reckon of it, I don’t reckon I’ve ever been south of the equator to find that out.  I need to plot a trip to experience this.
Anyway, getting back to reviewing this wine.  The 2009 version of this wine was biased with citrus and that continues in the 2010 vintage.  But the 2009 also showed an fascinating vegetal component on the nose that takes on more of a classic “cut grass” expression in the 2010. Read more