A Few Thoughts on the Wines of Chile Blogger Tasting

Posted on: October 14th, 2010 by

Chilean Red Blends

  • It was great to acknowledge, celebrate, and toast the rescued Chilean miners. It was serendipitous that our tasting of Chilean wines took place as the last miners were safely above ground.
  • Our Master of Ceremonies, Sommelier Fred Dexheimer, rightly pointed out the diversity and uniqueness of all the red blends we tried. Chile not only has the ability to grow a wide variety of grapes, but also the unencumbered spirit of experimentation to break out of the mold of Rhone-style or Bordeaux-style blends to try something daring. (Syrah/Merlot/Pinot Noir, anybody?)
  • Along with a diversity of blends, there was a diversity of styles from the sappy, unctuous, and saturated to the bright and lively. While I tend to prefer the latter, I tip my hat to Wines of Chile for not having a bad one in the bunch. I’d happily drink (I mean, er, taste) all of them again.
  • That being said, I bet you want me to choose a favorite. This is where I usually give a boilerplate response: “How can I choose my favorite? It’s like asking me to pick a favorite child. Though different, I love them all equally.” Well, with a nod to George Orwell, I’ll say some are more equal than others. The 2008 Estampa Gold Assemblage, 2008 Hacienda Araucano Clos de Lolol, and the 2007 Emiliana Coyam were the trio I’d hug a little tighter. Interesting to note that both the Estampa and Araucano had a chunk of Cabernet Franc in them; although this was a tasting of red blends, I’m excited to seek out some Chilean Cab Franc. And with a given SRP of under $30 for all three, I consider them all sensational values when pitted against comparably priced peers from around the globe.
  • Naturally, the chatting veered a little off-topic as the evening progressed. With the Sauvignon Blanc tasting, we had Fred trying to explain prom to a room full of Chilean winemakers. This time Fred was wingman for all the bloggers who found many of the (all male) winemakers to be hot. Celebrity comparisons of the winemakers ranged from Bob Saget to David Beckham. (Seriously.)
  • If this winemaking thing doesn’t work out for Grant Phelps of Casas del Bosque, he’s got a great future as a standup comedian. So many of us go to tastings where wine is treated so solemnly and seriously; it’s refreshing to equate wine, those who make it, those who drink it, and those who blog about it with laughter, hilarity, and a little naughtiness.
  • One of my bottles was badly corked. I regret not bringing up the issue of screw caps with the winemakers, especially when so many Chilean whites and less-expensive reds come with this closure. I’m not sure if it’s an issue of how the wines will age or consumer resistance, but I’d like to think all of the wineries involved would gladly give up the cork in order for me (and the other bloggers who had corked wines) to evaluate, enjoy, and write about their wines. (Stepping off screw cap soapbox…)
  • And though this event was about wine, let’s not forget about food! The The 1492 Picual olive oil was delightful drizzled over some heirloom tomatoes. And the Etina merquén, a smoked chile blend, was a great marinade for chicken. And to my fellow bloggers who used it to season steaks and ribs, I say bravo! Go to Puro Chile to get them! 

So fellow bloggers and fans of Chilean red blends, let me know your thoughts in the comments. What do you think about blends versus single varietal wines?

Full disclosure: The wines, olive oil, and merquén were samples provided free of charge.

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