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

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