Calcu Red Wine from Chile

Calcu Red Wine from ChileThe wine world is paying close attention to Colchagua Valley.  Topographically and geographically, it’s quite similar to Napa in many respects.  Many fine producers have, and continue to emerge from this growing province.  Recently we had an opportunity to taste an example from Colchagua – Calcu’s 2008 red blend.  Calcu (Magician in the native Mapuche language) is a Meritage-style blend consisting of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Carmenere, 15% Cabernet Franc, and 15% Petite Verdot. Read more

Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2010

Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2010This is the third year in a row that we’ve had the opportunity to review the Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc and after reviewing this wine on multiple occasions, a few things have become evident.
First of all, it’s apparent that Veramonte consistently makes a really excellent sauvignon blanc.  They’ve become my “go to” brand for SB.
Second, Casablanca Valley is a world class cool climate province.  It’s generally cooler than California but warmer than Marlborough, New Zealand.  Some may say it’s the best of both worlds.  Warm enough to bring the fruit to full ripeness, yet cool enough to preserve the acidity.  The wine that these conditions make has a flavor profile some describe as between New Zealand and California — which is right where I want it to be.  But, I would more accurately describe it as better than New Zealand and California.
Finally, it’s become evident that vintage does make a difference.  I’ve been beating on this drum for years, but heard others try to say the vintage doesn’t matter in inexpensive wines.  I disagree.  I always want to know the vintage of the juice in the bottle.  In the case of Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc, while it has been consistently excellent we’ve seen some variation from one vintage to the next.  While some vintages are excellent, others are outstanding!  And 2010 is an example of outstanding. Read more

Quintay Sauvignon Blanc Review

Quintay Sauvignon Blanc ReviewContinuing the theme of our last review, today we’re checking out a link more sauvignon blancs from the Casablanca Valley province of Chile.  Both of these come from Quintay, which is a brand that was started by a group of Chilean wine producers all all ears on cool climate wines.  Wine from Quintay come from the Casablanca and Leyda valleys, but these two both come from Casablanca.
The cool climate of Casablanca Valley helps these wines make lively tropical fruit flavors with crisp acidity.  The mineral characteristics also add to the complexity of these wines.
Quintay Clava Sauvignon Blanc 2009 Read more

Santa Rita Medalla Real – Single Estate Sauvignon Blanc

Santa Rita Medalla Real – Single Estate Sauvignon BlancChile continues to dominate this series of sauvignon blanc tastings, and tonight’s review is from Santa Rita.  This is a producer that has been awarded numerous accolades over the years and most recently was named both the Winery of the Year and the Value Brand of the Year by Wine and Spirits magazine.  Now that’s something to get the attention of a cheapskate like me.
Santa Rita, like many producers, has a number of different lines of their wines, each at different fee points.  This particular sauvignon blanc is from their Medalla Real line, which is a mid-priced line.  The suggested retail fee on this one is $19.99, barely in our fee range, but I’ve seen it sell for as small as $15, and at that fee this is a bargain.  It comes from Leyda Valley and in a word, this wine is extraordinary. Read more

Wines of Chile – Red Blends

Wines of Chile – Red BlendsThis past week I took part in an online wine tasting methodical by Wines of Chile, an organization that works to promote Chilean wine around the world.  This particular tasting was place together specifically for wine bloggers, like me.  It’s an  opportunity for bloggers to taste some wines they might not have otherwise tasted, and the obvious goal for the participating Chilean wineries is to get some exposure from the wine blogging community — and it works.
The wines were provided as samples, there were a total of eight wines.  Given the quantity of wine, and my propensity not to be wasteful, I invited about a dozen friends over to join me for the tasting.  All of those I invited over delight in wine, but they’re not as geeky about it as me.
The way these events work is the participating bloggers receive the wines ahead of time, then on the nighttime of the event we all log onto a web talks.  There’s a split screen video showed with a moderator from New York City in one view and the winemakers in Chile in another view.  We taste the wines in a predetermined order while the winemakers talk about each one.  There’s a window for chat, we’re bloggers share their observations and post questions to the winemakers.  The participating bloggers often Tweet their observations too.  If you do a Chirrup search for #ChileBlends you’ll see some of the Tweets from that nighttime.
One of the things that always strikes me as fascinating about these events is how long it takes others participating to loosen up.  I’ve noticed that some additional bloggers are concerned with being taken seriously and try to follow establish a professional demureness.  While I agree that if you’re doing product reviews you should have a consistent methodology and take the review itself seriously, I also like the irreverence and individuality that should be inherent in blogging.
At the beginning of the evening I made some humorous observations in the chat stream and nobody got the jokes — except for those who were at the house with me.  Some of those who joined me commented that none of the bloggers seemed to have a sense of humor.  It took until about four glasses in for additional participants to loosen up.  This leaves me with one comment to wine bloggers out there: lighten up and have some fun!!
Many of the wines in this tasting were priced above our predictable $20 limit here at Cheap Wine Ratings.  But hey, I’m not going to let that stop me from tasting them.  After all, how can I tell you that a $15 bottle of wine tastes like a $40 bottle if I never drink the higher-priced stuff.  But since many of these wines are over the fee that readers of this blog are seeking, I’m going to do my reviews in one long post rather than my predictable one-post-per-bottle approach.
Here are my impressions of the wines, in the order we tasted them:
Valdivieso, Eclat
This wine comes from the Maule Valley province and is composed of 56% carignan, 24% mourvedre and 20% syrah.  It’s an fascinating blend.  The grapes in it at first glance appear to be a blend that might come from Southern France, although I don’t reckon I’ve ever had a blend dominated by that much carignan.
This wine has very pleasant aromas with vanilla, red currant, blackberry and a small bit of smoked meat.  The palate is filled with red berry and plum flavors and the mouthfeel is mouth-coatingly wonderful.  The acidity really pops on this wine too, giving it a lively characteristic.  It’s very nice.
Wine: Valdivieso, Eclat
Variety: Red Blend
Vintage: 2005
Alcohol: 13.5%
Rating: 88
Fee: $27.00

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Veramonte Ritual Pinot Noir

Veramonte Ritual Pinot NoirAlthough I’m a huge fan of Chilean wines, one thing they haven’t really built a strong reputation for yet is pinot noir. Some might even say they’ve struggled with it. But I’ve noticed improvements in Chilean pinot noir over the past link years and hopefully this is a fantastic example of even more excellent things to come.
Veramonte has been experimenting with pinot noir for about 10 years, and their results are promising. Their “Ritual” brand is a step up from their basic pinot. The fruit comes from the Casablanca Valley, a province best known for colorless wines. It was aged for 12 months in French oak, only 40% of which was new oak. French oak tends to have a softer influence on the flavor than American oak and by only using 40% new oak, they were able to further manage the influence of oak to develop an elegant, rather than a clunky wine. Read more

William Cole Columbine Special Reserve Pinot Noir

William Cole Columbine Special Reserve Pinot NoirAs we mentioned in another recent review, Chile isn’t really known for pinot noir.  But there have been a few Chilean pinots that we’ve tasted that have impressed us recently, like this one.
The William Cole Columbine Special Reserve pinot noir comes from the Casablanca Valley.  This area is generally known as a cool-climate province with a strong maritime influence, which makes it a excellent entrant for pinot noir.  But ironically, the Casablanca Valley isn’t really a valley.  It does have a valley at it’s center, which is where the bulk of vineyard plantings are located, but the province as a whole extends further than what is technically “the valley” and into western coastal hills.  As such, there are a variety of micro-climates, altitudes, soils, etc that make this a diverse province.
As a side note, this William Cole from Chile should not be confused with the one from California. Read more

Leyda Classic Pinot Noir

Leyda Classic Pinot NoirWe’ve recently reviewed a link Chilean pinot noirs from the Casablanca Valley, which were pretty tasty, and today we’re tasting wine from a province a small further south than Casablanca Valley, called Leyda Valley.  This is a specific DOC within San Antonio Valley, and was just formally recognized as a DOC in 2002.  Viña Leyda was established a few years prior to this, in 1997.  But, it is subdue a relatively young wine brand.
The Leyda Valley is the largest and southernmost part of San Antonio Valley.  This province has a strong maritime influence with a moderate climate that includes mist in the daylight and winds in the afternoons.  These cool-climate conditions are fantastic for chardonnay and pinot noir, which are the most grown grapes in this province. Read more