Showing posts with label Chile. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chile. Show all posts

Monday, July 22, 2019

Four of the Best from O’Brien’s Summer Promotion


Four of the Best from O’Brien’s Summer Promotion
 -22nd July to 1st September-
The O’Brien’s Summer Promotion began this week and runs until 1st September. Over 100 wines are on offer, with discounts ranging from 6% to 42%. I think I've been lucky with the examples I've picked (below),  all red as it turned out.

But there is so much more in the promotion. Anyone for rosé? Why not try L'Ostal Caze from the many on offer. Whites to consider include the Château-Fuissé Saint-Veran  and the outstanding Robert Weil Riesling trocken. Having a little get-together out-the-back? There are two Rizzardi proseccos reduced and no shortage of cava or champagne either. Enjoy the summer! Responsibly, of course. Regular price in brackets.

Vaglio "Chango" Red Blend 2015 Argentina, 14.5%, 15.95 (18.95)

An expressive and pleasant wine according to the man who produced it: José Lovaglio Balbo, from Mendoza. Vaglio is a new micro-winery located in Tupungato created by José. He produces four single vineyard wines that all focus on micro-climates and minimal winemaking. José is a young winemaker at the well known Dominio del Plata and the son of renowned winemaker Susana Balbo. Each of his wines represent a unique terroir as well as different stages of his life. 

The fruit comes from different vineyards, the Malbec (65%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (15%) are from Altamira and the Tannat (20%) is from Cafayate. It has spent 11 months in oak (2nd/3rd use barrels).

Colour is close to a dark ruby. Bruised red fruit on the nose, a touch of orange peel too, slightest hints of vanilla emerge also. Palate is soft, full of that red fruit flavour, then the long-lasting finish, with tannins that are not yet quite smooth. A really well-made wine from Mendoza, an amazing amalgam of the grapes and the terroir conducted by the young wine-maker. He does ask for your feedback on the bottle! Very Highly Recommended. Chapeau, José. @joselovaglio


Tandem, at the foot of the Camino de Santiago in the Yerri Valley, is a cool micro-climate where they practice sustainable farming and minimal intervention. Built north-facing and partially underground to use a gravity system, they have the finest natural conditions to age the wines.

Owner José María Fraile was in Cork last year and told us  the vineyard is quite close to Pamplona and on the northern edge of the Navarra wine region. “We like freshness and elegance and luckily we’re in the coolest part of the appellation. It is super green where we are, a big contrast with the desert in the south. The Atlantic influence, the cool summer nights and picking late in the season is good for the grapes and we get that natural acidity.” We would soon see how that acidity helped with the food pairings at 12 Tables.

Inmune (Spanish for immune) was one of the wines on the night, a 100% Garnacha paired with Gubbeen Chorizo, Ardsallagh Feta, Olive Tapenade, Romesco, Physalis and Avocado Oil. “Immune, to failure, to critics!”, joked José. “This is a powerful expression of the Garnacha (the vines are 70 years old and more); great depth and structure, a stunning wine that fills the palate.”

“We aimed to make a powerful, deep and concentrated wine, with nice weight and tannins in which the purity of the fruit garnacha would shine.” Reckon Tandem got it spot-on. Very Highly Recommended.



Leyda, 12 km from the Pacific is an ideal spot for viticulture. The maritime influenced cool conditions makes it an extraordinary area for the development of Pinot Noir. Vineyards are all on slopes, planted on the least fertile soils and they are managed in order to keep low yields. 

Light to mid ruby is the colour. Summer berries combine for an intense aroma.  Rich rounded palate of ripe red fruit (cherries prominent), a lively acidity, smooth tannins and a long and pleasing finish. An excellent Pinot Noir, Very Highly Recommended. Good value too, even at the original price.

Leyda, founded in 1997, are best known for their Pinot Noir (notably Lot 21), Sauvignon Blanc, and Syrah (according to Wines of South America). This wine was aged in French oak barrels for ten months and pairs well with cold meats/pâtés, Duck, Pheasant/Pigeon, Pork Belly, Slow roast Pork loin.


Words of wine wisdom from the Contessa (below) encourage us to drink with emotion rather than a data sheet, passion rather than intellect.

Mid to dark ruby is the colour of this light Munus from the Lake Garda area. Aromas are intensely fruity, a hint of spice there too. Flavours are quite concentrated, acidity is excellent, hints of that sweet spice too, and a good finish to boot. 

All that acidity means it's meant for food. I’m thinking: Bring on the lamb! The producer says: “Superb with pork and poultry dishes and lighter game such as partridge and quail. Also porcini mushroom risotto.” Another note from the vineyard recommends it to be served (16° C or 60° F) with pork roast, spicy dishes or casseroles. Quite versatile apparently!

A wine that belies its youth.  Very Highly Recommended.

Lots of history behind Rizzardi and Munus which is produced mainly from Corvina, Merlot and Ancellotta grapes from their vineyards. 

Created to celebrate the Contessa Loredan Rizzardi, a descendant of the Loredan Doges of Venice and she has been quoted as saying that this is her favourite wine, adding You have a perfect marriage of grapes when one grape is not prevailing over another. ….But I drink with passion, and without brains. 

The label bears the word Munus - a gift - which was engraved on the silver coins given by the Doge on special occasions. It is part aged in large oak barrels. Serve at 16-18 degrees. Estate grown and bottled.

You may be wondering about the Ancellotta grape. Wine-searcher: Ancellotta is a dark-colored grape variety that originated in Italy. It is most often used as a blending component in sparkling red Lambrusco wines, but varietal examples can be found in BrazilArgentina and Switzerland.







Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Wines from the Edges. Tasmania and the Chilean Coast.

Wines from the edge. Tasmania and the Chilean Coast. 
Pinot Noir and Riesling.


Lo Abarca Riesling 2017, 12.5%, €12.00 Marks and Spencer.

This wine is exclusive to M&S and they call it quirky on the label. It comes from cool climate vineyards in Chile’s San Antonio valley. Here in Casa Marin, the sunny vineyards are cooled by nearby Pacific breezes (the ocean is just a few kilometres away) and that makes them perfect for ripening Riesling grapes with excellent balance.

Wines of South America (2014) described the Lo Abarca area as “unofficial” noting just two producers there, Undurraga and Casa Marin.

This wine has a very light straw colour, tints of green, very clean. Pleasant aromas of circus (lime) and also floral notes. Crisp and refreshing on the palate, yellow fruit plus lime, an impressive natural acidity and a long dry finish. Very Highly Recommended.

Food Pairing 
Winery: Excellent as an aperitif with a delicious fresh ceviche or any type of seafood. Furthermore, it is the best friend for spicy food, like for example a delicious Thai Curry.
M&S: Enjoy this wine chilled with spicy southeast Asian curries or sweet and sour Chinese noodles. 


By the way, in the 2018 awards, Decanter magazine awarded this Riesling its Gold Medal.

Pure South Pinot Noir Tasmania 2015, 13.5%, €16.45 Marks and Spencer

Marks and Spencer say this “this lifted fruit driven style” suits dishes such as pan-fried duck with Asian spices or baked wild salmon. Didn’t do too badly at all with the more accessible (at the time) Christmas turkey. The winery suggests Sushi, charcuterie and lighter red meats.

Colour is the typical light ruby. Aromas are interesting, a little bit savoury, a wee bit smoky, herbs and vanilla too. Bright and vibrant flavours of strawberry, and raspberry and notes of dark cherry combine with a wash of spice to give this elegant wine more heft than you’d expect from the colour. Southern attitude from a very southern latitude gives it a vibrant sense of place.

This one which, according to M&S winemaker Belinda Kleining, has subtle integrated oak to complement the generous red fruitgrew on me. Highly Recommended.


Monday, April 30, 2018

Two to Note from Chile's Cachapoal Valley. And an Irish connection.


Bernardo (via Wikipedia)
Two to Note from Chile's Cachapoal Valley. And an Irish connection.

Clos des Fous and Chateau Los Boldos are two of the leading producers in the Rapel Valley, south of Santiago in Chile. The area, with its dry warm climate, is regarded as ideal for growing Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon. 
The Rapel has two main valleys, the Cachapoal and the better known Colchaqua.

Cachapoal Province is one of three provinces of the central Chilean region of Libertador General Bernardo O'Higgins Region. Bernardo (left), who played a leading role in the liberation fight, became the first Head of State of Chile in 1818. And yes, there was of course an Irish background. The O'Higgins family lost their lands under the English Crown in the 17th century and left to exile in Spain from where some of them made their way to Chile.

Chateau Los Boldos “Tradition Réserve” Carmenere 2016, Cachapoal (Chile), 13.5%, €15.99 JJ O’Driscoll’s, Wines Online


Los Boldos grow all their own fruit, in vineyards that benefit from a Mediterranean climate, so control everything from grape to bottle. Sixty per cent spends six months in French and American oak “to soften tannins and add complexity”.

Quite a deep red. There are rich cherry aromas, a promise of good things to come. And come they do on the palate, delicious sweet fruit flavours and spice, a lush mouthfeel thanks to its rounded texture. Very appealing overall and Very Highly Recommended. Well priced also.

By the way, Los Boldos also do other single varietals in the “Tradition Réserve” series including Merlot, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Worth seeking out, I reckon. The emphasis in this French pioneered now Portuguese owned winery is on higher-end wines from their old vines. Its signature wines are the Grand Cru.


Clos des Fous Chardonnay, Locura 1 Terroir de los Andes Chile 2015, 14%, €23.99 JJ O’Driscoll Cork, Wine Online

Quite a mission statement from Cussen, Leyton, Massoc and Parra, the quartet behind this wine: “This is an unique and groundbreaking project based on a delicate and novel terroir selection. Following the Burgundy philosophy, our focus is to achieve wines with minimal intervention letting the terroir express itself.”

A few details on the wine itself. Colour is a very light straw. Fairly intense aromas (white fruits), legs slow. Excellent buttery mouthfeel, rich and full in the mouth, long and satisfying mineral finish. The four seem to have indeed followed the Burgundian way here, seem to have succeeded and the verdict is Very Highly Recommended.

This unoaked Chardonnay is listed as one of the top ten chardonnay in South America by Wines of South America. They also call Pedro Parra, one of the four owners, a “terroir whisperer”. 

Their terroir approach plus their organic fruit and minimalist techniques are lauded, “no safety nets” such as fining or filtering. The wines, including this one, have many admirers, among them Jancis Robinson here. 

Wondering about the name of the wine? Clos des Fous means enclosure of the madmen while Locura also hints at a crazy condition. Enjoy!



Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Three Well Recommended Wines from South America

Three Well Recommended from South America

Altos Las Hormigas Valle de Uco Mendoza Argentina Malbec Terroir 2015, 13.5%, €25.99 Wine Online

The ants (Las Hormigas) love newly planted vines. But the owners didn't want to poison them, after all the ants were the original inhabitants; they lived with the nuisance and then found that the ants had no interest in the vines once they began to grow. (Source: Wines of South America by Evan Goldstein.)

The fruit for this one hundred per cent Malbec comes from the Valle de Uco, an area known for its fine fruit and floral bouquets. It can age for up to five years. Fifty per cent is aged in cement piletas (pools) for 12 months, 25% in stainless steel vats and 25% in untoasted large oak foudres.

Colour is a mid to deep ruby and there are aromas of plum and cherry. So smooth, fresh and spicy too, the perfect introduction. And so it progresses harmoniously across the palate, the lively acidity playing its part, all the way through to the long finalé. This is a marvellous Malbec, from producers well known for their Malbec, and is Very Highly Recommended.

Montes Alpha Malbec Valle de Colchagua (DO) 2013, 14.5%, €22.99 JJ O’Driscoll’s Wine Online

This wine comes from the Colchagua Valley in the centre of Chile. The Montes vines are irrigated under a Sustainable Dry Farming regime that has led to a 65% decrease in their water footprint.

It has a dark ruby robe, the legs slow to clear. The aromatic nose gives ripe dark fruits, toasty notes, hints of vanilla too. Palate is quite complex and intense, plums now prominent in the flavours, sweet notes too, though more or less well balanced. From a dry and sunny terroir, with outstanding fruit and aromas, this is a great example of Malbec from Chile and Very Highly Recommended.

According to the Wines of South America, Montes (founded in 1988) is credited for its pioneering work in the Colchagua’s Apalta district, the first to realise its potential as one of the best locations for red wines in Chile and “is among the most important wineries in Chile today”. As a further endorsement, their Alpha “M” (very limited production) is listed as one of the top 20 South American wines to drink before you die.

Amalaya Blanco de Corte, Valle Calchagui Argentina 2017, 12.5%, €17.99 JJ O’Driscoll’s CorkWine Online


Amalaya make only blends and this is a mix of Torrontés (85%) and Riesling (15%). In Salta’s high dessert, Amalaya vineyards begin a mile above sea level and are well known for Torrontés and Malbec. The journey up “is not for the faint-hearted” according to Wines of South America, who recommend Amalaya as a top producer in the area.

Colour is a mid-straw yellow. White fruits feature in the moderately intense aromas. Beautiful fresh flavours, grapefruit and citrus, on the silky smooth palate, the crisp acidity provides balance. Fruit stays to the finish where mineral notes are much in evidence. Highly Recommended.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Grapes planted in 16th century. Now we get these two gems from Chile.

A Los Viñateros Bravos Volcánico País 2015 Itata (Chile), 12.5%, €22.90 Le Caveau, Bradley’s (Cork).

If you don’t like your wines big and bold and prefer light and delicate, then this is one to try.

Colour is pale Ruby, shimmering. 
Aromas of wild strawberries and hints too (I'm told) of the local vegetation.

Palate is fresh and light, vibrant, delicate red fruit flavours, touch of spice, distinctive and refreshing, smooth all the way to the finish. The granitic soils have a lot to say and tell here and, perhaps, that is why, or at least one reason, this wine reminds me of a good Beaujolais. A quiet friendly one and Very Highly Recommended. 

Le Caveau say the fruit comes from very old vines (100 years and more) grown on volcanic soil that give it a mineral-y character. It is fermented and aged in concrete vats, the extraction is very subtle. The skins are basket pressed. The wine is then aged in large wood vessels and after 14 months is bottled with a very coarse filtration. 

The first País (also known, particularly in California, as the Mission grape) was brought by the conquistadors in the 1550s and, for centuries, the locals used it to make wines for themselves.

But bit by bit, the big companies began to use the big-name grapes and the ancient imports lost ground. Leonardo Erazo was one who wanted to reverse this trend, travelled the world for ten years to study wine and then came back and founded A Los Viñateros Bravos.

In Itata, Leonardo has worked with the scattered local farmers’ old vines—many well over 100 years, still growing as dry farmed, untrained small bushes—to enhance their traditional natural practices to align with biodynamic guidelines. His mission, throughout this journey, has been to bring a sense of place into the bottle. 

“In order to achieve that, we are working back into the organic viticulture (historically, a tradition here) with natural winemaking. We feel like we don’t need to fix nature but rather enhance its capabilities, thus to enhance its potential. We want wines full of life, vibrancy, tension and freshness.”


The Pais doesn’t have much of a status with the better-known wine commentators. For instance, Grapes and Wines blames the original Spanish Franciscan missionaries for not taking the trouble “to bring something better”. Leonardo Erazo is taking time and trouble and certainly bringing us something better!

Miguel Torres Reserva Ancestral Valle del Itata (Chile) 2014, 14.5%, €18.50 Marks and Spencer.
This blend of Cinsault (60%), País (25) and Carignan (15) has a deep ruby colour. There are fragrant aromas of plum, blackberry, some spice too. It is smooth, rich, juicy and fruity as it spreads across, tannins just about evident, and then a long dry finish. A warm and concentrated welcoming wine, ideal in autumn and winter. Very Highly Recommended.

Torres tell us this is produced from the fruit of 80-year old vines. These grape varieties were first brought to Chile by the early Spanish conquistadors around 500 years ago, so it is aptly named.

According to Wines of South America, Torres are dedicated to rediscovering “heritage” wines, based on traditional País, both in table red and sparkling bottlings.
All Torres vineyards in Chile have been organic since 1995 and this wine, a Platinum winner in Decanter 2017, is the inaugural vintage (fewer than 15,000 bottles) from these ancient vineyards.

Decanter called it a “friendly beast” with particular praise for its “lovely concentration”.This medium bodied wine is not meant for long-term keeping and you are advised to use it within five years. Try it with steak, charcuterie and empanadas.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Chile's Aresti Family Wines. Plus A Lovely Albarino.

The Aresti Family, Highly Rated Chilean Winemakers
Jon (right) with Yours Truly
Though established in 1951, it was 1999 before the Aresti family began producing wine under their own label on their Bellavista estate in Chile’s Curicó Valley. Now, according to Wines of South America, they have “one thousand cultivated acres”. Their signature line is the Aresti Family Collection (also carried by SuperValu). 

Their winemaker, since 2005, is the experienced Jon Usabiaga, highly respected by fellow Chilean winemakers and a regular visitor to Ireland. I met him a couple of years back and he told me: “The main aim for me is to show the real character of every variety. If someone is choosing a Cabernet Sauvignon, it should taste like a Cabernet Sauvignon”.

Aresti Bellavista Reserva Merlot Curicó Valley (Chile) 2015, 13%,  €12.99 (offer €10.00 until 6/09/17) SuperValu.
Unusually, there is a truck on the label. It is the first truck, “La Perica”, that arrived in Bellavista, the founding vineyard of Aresti. Both the truck and the vineyard date back to 1951.

Colour of this Merlot is ruby. It boasts aromas of ripe red fruit, hints of vanilla too. The juicy palate has strawberry flavours and spice too, tannins are mild, and the finish is long and dry. Highly Recommended.


Aresti Bellavista Reserva Chardonnay Curicó Valley (Chile) 2016, 13%,  €12.99 (offer €10.00 until 6/09/17) SuperValu.
This is another of SuperValu’s Specially Sourced wines, an increasingly important part of their wine offering. “Delivering new and exciting wines to cater for all tastes is top of our agenda,” says Kevin O’Callaghan, Head of Wine.

Like the Merlot, the Chardonnay is produced at Bellavista (note the lorry again!), the original Aresti venture. You’ll also find Bellavista Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon in SuperValu.

The colour is straw, with tints of green. No need to get really close in this instance as intense tropical fruit aromas rise from the glass. The fresh fruit features too on the creamy palate and good acidity keeps all in balance. A long dry finish lingers. This harmonious wine is Highly Recommended.



A Lovely Albarino
Bodegas Gallegas 'Abellio' Albarino, Rias Baixas (Spain) 2016, €12.99 (€10.00 when on offer) 12.5%, SuperValu

We leave Argentina now and cross the Atlantic to Spain, to Galicia and this attractively labelled Albarino. I know Kevin O’Callaghan is very proud of this one as he helped design the label (just one of the ways in which SuperValu help their producers sell their wines).

Winemaker Xoan Casiano Rego Ribeiro (call him Joan for short) is a defender of Galician wines, of the native varieties in particular, and has done a great job here with the hand-harvested Albarino fruit. 



The wine has the typical mid-gold colour.With its excellent aromas (white fruit) and flavours, it is ideal with shellfish and fish and also recommended for lightly spiced Asian chicken dishes. It is smooth and intense on the palate, with refreshing minerality and well balanced. Very Highly Recommended.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Three Lesser-known Grapes. Petit Verdot, Pinotage, Cinsault

Three Lesser-known Grapes
Petit Verdot, Pinotage, Cinsault

You won't find any of this trio in the comfort zone of “international” grapes. And, aside from Pinotage, you’ll not often find them in a bottle on their own. But I have and I’m very glad I did.

Petit Verdot is highly valued in Bordeaux but generally only as a small contributor to the red blend there. It ripens late and is therefore well suited to the Languedoc where our delicious example comes from.

Pinotage, according to Grapes and Vines, “is potentially South Africa’s greatest treasure…. and yet South Africans are some of its fiercest critics”. The varietal was created in Stellenbosch (it is a university town) in 1925 by crossing Pinot Noir and Cinsault. Our bottle is one of the more modern lighter types, bright and juicy.

And that same Cinsault (Samsó in Spain, Cinsaut in most other countries) is found in our other bottle, all sourced by the way by Le Caveau in Kilkenny. The producer in Chile, a Frenchman, has made a natural aromatic wine and spells it Cinsault.

At a tasting last year in L’Atitude, Francesca Jara said of it: “Five years ago, natural wine was almost an underground movement in Chile. This is 100% Cinsault, from really old vines (80 years plus), no added sulphites, no oak.”

Les Hauts de Median Petit Verdot, Pays D’Oc (IGP) 2015, 13%, €13.95  Le Caveau

These Petit Verdot grapes are grown on the slopes of a volcano in the Languedoc (between Béziers and the sea). Winemaker Aurélie Trebuchon-Vic advises there may be a slight deposit - “a sign of traditional wine-making that respects the natural qualities of the fruit". No chemicals and no pesticides are used.

Colour is a deep enough red, a glossy one. Aromas are pretty intense, dark fruits and herby notes too. And there is a super balance of fruit (mainly cherry), spice and acidity in the medium body. It is harmonious, fresh and delicious, with good length, a lovely surprise and Very Highly Recommended. Aurélie recommends enjoying it “with some friends and grilled meat”. More at www.preignes.com


Inkawu Pinotage 2013, Laibach Vineyards, Stellenbosch (South Africa), 14.5%, €22.90 Le Caveau


Laibach Vineyards, who specialise in natural and organic wine,  is situated in one of the prime red wine growing areas of South Africa. Early morning picking means no warm fruit reaches the cellar. This particular wine was aged in French oak (75% new) for 15 months. An entirely natural sediment may form, so decant. By the way, no deposit at all in my bottle.

It has a ruby red colour and you’ll find dark fruit and vanilla in the aromas. It is rich and spicy, complex, lots of flavours (including red cherry, toast). The balance is spot-on and there is a long dry finish. 

Inkawu is the Xhosa name for fun monkeys, a hint that the wine is “a playful, high-spirited expression” of the new South Africa. Maybe so. In any event, the care and hard work, the respect for the land and the fruit, has been rewarded and you may share by enjoying this Very Highly Recommended wine.



Louis-Antoine Luyt Cinsault 2013, Maule Valley (Chile), 14%, €23.50 Le Caveau


Louis-Antoine Luyt, trained by the renowned Marcel Lapierre in Beaujolais, is renowned for the character of his Chilean wines which are organic and natural, some made from very old vines indeed. Quite a character himself - some more detail here.  

This full-bodied ruby red, with no added sulphites and no oak, has inviting aromas of cherry fruit. Lots of fruit flavour, some spice, notes of aniseed follow along with a refreshing acidity and then comes the long dry finalé. Tannins are a little rustic but less so than when I tasted it a year ago. Easy drinking and, as importer Pascal Rossignol might say, easy to digest, this Cinsault is Highly Recommended. Be sure to decant this one!

At last year’s tasting, Francisca said Chile has more than cheap wines, more than the major varieties. “Irish supermarkets don't have what we drink in Chile.” You won’t find this in supermarkets either so major thanks to Le Caveau for giving us the chance to get out of the comfort zone.


* The striking label is based on old Chilean bus signage.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The All Whites. Including a Mendoza Double.

Valle Aldino Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Central Valley (Chile), 13%, €12.70 Karwig Wine


Have you been reading The 24 Hour Wine Expert by Jancis Robinson? At €6.80 (Waterstones), it is well worth getting. 

In a section called Be Adventurous, she lists 15 pairs, one wine The Obvious Choice, the other tagged The Clever Alternative.  In Sauvignon Blanc, the obvious is Marlborough while the alternative is Chile.

The alternative, she says, can “be sometimes cheaper, often more interesting”. This Valle Aldino is certainly cheaper and, while not more interesting than the better Marlboroughs, is a good alternative at a decent price.

Colour is a light straw with tints of green. Fresh and grassy aromas, white fruits there too. Gooseberries and citrus flavours, with strong melon-y notes too, on the zesty palate, plus a decent finish. Recommended.


Mendoza’s Domaine Bousquet
A Blend Double

In 1990, the Bousquet family from Carcassonne in Southern France began to explore wine-making possibilities in Argentina. In 1997, they settled in Tupungato (Mendoza) in one of the highest vineyards in the world.

It is no less than 1,200 meters above sea level. There is a large difference between day and night temperatures. This variation (the thermal amplitude) helps create fully ripened grapes with good acidity. The heat of the day promotes the ripening, the chill of the night preserves acidity. Grapes are hand-picked and the vineyard is certified organic.

Domaine Bousquet Chardonnay - Pinot Gris Reserva 2010 (Tupungato, Mendoza, ARG), 14%, €18.80 Mary Pawle Wines
Colour is a light gold, clean and bright and a ring of bubbles stay around the rim for a while. It is strongly aromatic, some exotic white fruit and floral notes too. Concentrated white fruit flavours announce its arrival on the palate and the acidity ensures a happy balance. It is an elegant style with a dry and pleasing finish. Highly Recommended.

The mix is 85% Chardonnay and 15% Pinot Gris. And the Reserve apparently means that the grapes have been picked from the best plots.

Domaine Bousquet Cameleon  Selection Torrontes - Chardonnay 2014 (Tupungato, Mendoza, ARG), 14%, O’Donovan’s Off Licence.

The Cameleon, one of their brands, symbolises the family story of Jean Bousquet, the leaving of France and adapting to the new life in Argentina. Adapted quite well going by this bottle, also Highly Recommended.

The blend here is fifty fifty. Aging is in stainless steel plus four months in bottle. Ideal, they say for seafood, fish dishes and cheeses. I say fine on its own and worth a try too with white meat and Asian dishes.

Colour is a light gold, clean and bright, much like the first bottle above. Aromas are of white fruits, floral notes too. On the palate there are fresh white fruit flavors, some sweet spice, an oily mouthfeel, more body here, that expected acidity and a long, dry and very pleasing finish.

This is what the family wanted from the blend and from their soil. “With its subtle attunement, this Chameleon is a conspicuous presence in a landscape of indistinguishable wine.” Don't know what the neighbours made of that statement!


Thursday, June 2, 2016

Casa Silva Wines Impress At Jacques

Casa Silva Wines Impress At Jacques
No water? No problem to Casa Silva at Paredones 


Don’t particularly want to be anywhere else during this current spell of warm sunny weather but offer me a stay at the guesthouse in the Chilean winemaker Casa Silva and I wouldn't hesitate.

It is best best known for its Carmenere, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc but, having sampled five of their wines in Jacques in a very convivial tasting last Tuesday, I'll be adding Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to the list!

David Prentice, Casa Silva’s European Commercial Director, was our host at Jacques and we soon had their delicious unoaked Chardonnay in hand. It may be their “entry level Chardonnay” but this comes from one of the country’s top producers and is well worth seeking out. You may get it for €12.50 at www.winesoftheworld.ie.
Two Cool from Paredones

David said: “We prefer to make the wine mainly in the vineyard. No oak here as there’s no need for it. The vineyard is 25km from the coast, cool at night and there is a short hot spike during the day, ideal conditions. Yield here is very close to that of Chablis.”

Five generations - a 6th on the way - show that Casa Silva is a family affair. “The first generation brought their vines from Bordeaux, in 1892! And the aim is to keep the business within the family. Seventy year old Mario Silva has dedicated much of his life to recovering the old vineyards and wine cellar and has acquired a unique understanding of the terroir in the Colchagua Valley.  He still works every day, still checking, still tasting.”

In Chile, you can find a micro-climate for virtually any grape. The long narrow country has the Andes to the east and the ocean to the west, desert to the north, ice to the south and, in between, there is a great diversity of soils and climate.

 Our next wine was the Sauvignon Blanc 2015 reserva and that went down very well indeed. By the way, David emphasised that they use natural local yeast in the majority of their wines.

They are not afraid to be brave. The grapes for the second Sauvignon Blanc, the terrific Cool Coast 2013, came from the Paredones vineyard, in an area where no vines had been grown previously due to lack of water. But Casa Silva pumped the water up from the river (filled by winter rains) and that storage “lake” is the centerpoint of the beautiful vineyard, now earning quite a reputation.

Here there is “granite, older than the Andes” and this Sauvignon is “more chiselled”, “more friendly than New Zealand counterparts, intense aromas, refreshing acidity. Paredones is very interesting,  has a great terroir, ideal temperature range (23 by day, 8 by night).”

And there was further proof of that with the next bottle, the Cool Coast Pinot Noir with its red robe that bit deeper than you’d expect, its inviting aromas of raspberry and strawberry, excellent balancing acidity, refreshing flavours and long finish. Very impressive indeed.

Such has been the success of this new vineyard that one or two other wine producers are now moving into the area. Los Lignes is another famous Casa Silva vineyard and the source of our final wine, a top notch 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon. “The Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon planted here reach extremely high quality with unique character.” We could see that in our glass! Superb. The Carmenere is now on the wish list.
David Prentice (left) with Yours Truly

And with all that acidity and freshness calling out for food, the kitchen in Jacques stepped up to the plate, as they always do. Our first dish was Goats Cheese with Rhubarb and Orange on Toast, the second Fresh Crab and apple in lettuce, the finalé a terrific slice of rare beef, complete with potato, horseradish cream and a surprising smoked tomato!

So thanks to Casa Silva, to David, to Kate Barry and her crew from Barry Fitzwilliam and to the 38 year old Cork restaurant for a very informative and relaxing evening of good wine and food. Don't forget to check out the Casa Silva wines at www.winesoftheworld.ie, in your local restaurant and in selected off licences