Lunch (and supper) with Casillero del Diablo – Reserva Privada Cab/Syrah ’07

There are few things that are more enjoyable to me then spending a lazy lunch with good friends. Interesting conversation, fun people and good times. I consider myself most fortunate in that most of my friends are foodies/excellent cooks and found myself one afternoon at the house of my friend, Luiz (AKA The London Foodie). Luiz is a big foodie and he prepared an amazing lunch for me and his partner. Starting off with a cold garlic and almond soup, garnished with fresh green grapes left me holding out my bowl and asking, “More, please. Sir.” The only cold soup I know of is gazpacho so this was a revelation. The garlic was mild and not overpowering, garnished with whole green grapes lolling about the bottom of the bowl. Delicious! For the main had Oxtail Stew with pumpkin with Moroccan couscous, oven cooked aubergine in a yoghurt sauce garnished with pomegrantes and a medly of sugar snap peas and aspargus with hazelnuts. Luiz really spoiled us! I had brought along the Casillero del Diablo, Reserva Privada 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah which we paired with the oxtail stew. Casillero del Diablo Reserva Privada wines are made from old vines and come from their Pirque and the Peumo vineyards, of the Maipo and Rapel Valleys. The cabernet is from the Pirque vineyard which is situated in the northern and one of the coolest parts of the valley. The soil is nutrient poor and provides excellent drainage all of which makes the grape work that much harder to produce very concentrated fruit. The syrah used in the blend comes from the Peumo Vineyards further to the south of the Pirque vines and benefits from its position on south facing hills of the Rapel Valley. Here the soil is more clay like in character but has excellent drainage so the grapes don’t become bloated beachballs. The grapes produced have terrific balance and contribute depth of character and colour to the blend. The Reserva Privada Cabernet Sauvingon/Syrah 2007 spends 14...

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Cono Sur – Chilean organic wines

Jul 27, 09 Cono Sur – Chilean organic wines

Posted by in Chile

I don’t know what it is about the summer but I just haven’t been in a writing mood lately. Which is a bit of a shame because I’ve been going to some great tastings lately. For example, I went to a winetasting a couple of weeks ago hosted by the delightful Chilean winemaker, Adolfo Hurtado of Cono Sur Vineyards and Winery of Chile. People often make the mistake of thinking that Cono Sur is synonomous with the big brand, Concha y Toro.  Although Cono Sur is a subsidiary of Concha y Toro, it is completely independent from it, making their wines in their own distinct fashion. Winemaking came to Chile in the 1850’s with the French winemakers who were fleeing the phylloxera crisis that was plagueing the Continent at the time.  The French settled in Maipo Valley because pragmatically enough, it was the closest vinegrowing region to Santiago de Chile, the capital. Besides the Maipo Valley, there are also the Colchagua, the Casablanca, the Rapel, the Maule and the Bio Bio Valleys, all of which are used for grape growing and winemaking. Chile is ideally situated to produce wine,even if it’s a long thin strip of land clinging to the western coast of South America. It’s bordered on one side by the Andes Mtns and the other by the Pacific Ocean but the centre of the country is a series of valleys, of geographical islands that have historically been phylloxera free and disease free. Chile also benefits from the Humboldt Current of off the coast which helps to cool down the inland valleys in summer. And, it is a very dry country receiving very little rainfall throughout the year. For this reason, wineries have to irrigate but they do have access to the glacial waters of the Andes Mtns, which on a positive note is great for organic production because no seeds or other unwanted detritus is brought in with the irrigation water. That’s not to say that Chile is pest free but Cono Sur has come up with unique ways to deal with the various creepy crawlies that can invade Chilean vineyards. One of the most common...

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De Martino Malbec ’06 for Wineblogging Wednesday #52

 Today is Wine blogging Wednesday (#52)!! Our mission, given to us by, was to pick a Chilean wine for under $20 bucks or value reds from Chile as they put it. With the exchange rate what it is now, we settled on a Chilean for under £14 (approximate, but with the pound sinking it might be less now).   At Oddbins we have quite a nice selection of  Chilean wines, both red and white but since my assignment was red, I went for the  De Martino Single Vineyard Malbec ’06 (£11.49),  from the  Maule Valley. De Martino pride themselves on travelling the length of Chile, choosing only the finest terroir to bring out the best of the chosen  varietal and employing expert consulants to make fantastic wines.  Marcelo Retamal, their winemaker, is a rising star in Chilean oenology and it shows. This  particular malbec vineyard is located in an isolated (and one of the driest) parts of the Maule valley with  granitic  soils and bush-trained 80 year old vines.  According to the website, the vineyard is run by one man  and his horse so I guess you could say there is minimal intervention in the production of  the wine. I think Chilean wines are amazing value for money and this malbec did nothing to dissuade me. On pouring it was a deep, intense garnet, almost inky – staring into it, it was impossible to see the bottom of the glass. On the nose first off, black fruits, concentrated cassis, and spices – a bit of nutmeg, hint of cinnamon, almost smelled like baking cookies with vanilla bobbing about and violet notes coming through on the tail of it all. I had to let it sit for a few minutes because I was interrupted but I was glad I did because the aromatic notes coming off were even more spicy now. Although they were not as intense, they had evolved into molasses and the the smells of rich mince pie. Perfect wine for Christmas.     Despite it being so rich on the nose, on the palate, it was...

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Reds (mostly) and lamb for dinner

  Sunday dinner at mine. Rack of lamb, good friends and lots of fab wine. Ayesha, John and I provided the food and everyone else had to bring a wine. The aperitifs –  ’02 Blin vintage champagne and the Balfour Brut Sparkling Rose. The Balfour again getting rave reviews, Penny said that it could easily be confused with the Taittanger Rose. The Balfour was great with the bacon wrapped chestnuts but not so good with the chili olives – live and learn… I twittered the evening so I have some record of what we drank. Here are the highlights. Starting off with Albert Bichot ’06 Puligny Montrachet and garlic prawns. A lovely village level wine from the Cote de Beaune, still quite fresh and lemony with a great balance of fruit and alcohol, washed down those prawns in no time. What to have with the rack of lamb? I started with Penny and Paul’s contibution, the Rene Bouvier ’03 Cote de Nuits-Village, fantastic gamey, savoury, meaty pinot noir with plush raspberry and other red berry fruits – perfect with the lamb. According to my tweets, the next wine was the Qupé Los Olivos Cuvee ’06. A Rhone style blend from the Santa Ynez Valley that I had picked up when I was CA for the WBC in Oct. Comments on the Qupé – black fruits, a bit alcholic, slightly unbalanced we thought because of that but full and rich with hints of sweet spice and a  licorice finish. Penny said it was a bit scatterbrained, still needed time to age but the potential was definitely there.  Great structure with a long lasting finish. Back to the Old World with a St. Julien, Ch. Lagrange ’96 that James dug up. Amazing nose on this bordeaux, it smelled like a butcher shop, dried blood, mint, wood spice, cigar box notes – Ana observed lots of secondary characteristics. It was excellent with the food, the tannins still quite evident  but not harsh and standing up to the lamb beautifully.   Jumping across the Atlantic, the Chilean Domus Aurea...

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Almost time for Wineblogging Wednesday

Wine Blogging Wednesday is coming up once again. I love WBW. WBW is the chance for us bloggers from around the world get to get together and blog about a pre-determined wine. This month is hosting the blogging event and they’ve chosen Chile as their wine of the month. Chile has been sending some great stuff to England for some time now but in the States, it seems that they haven’t gotten as much exposure to Chilean wine as we have here. I’ve drunk and written about some great Chilean wines available here in London, ranging from Vina Leyda Pinot noir to Montes Alpha M and there are plenty of others available. Our task is to choose a wine priced below £14. That shouldn’t be too hard to do. I’m going to pick my wine tomorrow. Watch this space for my Chilean write up. All posts are due by Dec. 10th. If you want to join in, just follow the WBW link above. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Valdivieso Fireworks

Alcohol and a river cruise? Seeing as I’m somewhat prone to seasickness, I was a bit hesitant but since it was on the River Thames, I thought, what the hell. Valdivieso Wines of Chile and Bibendum joined up to host a cruise down the Thames for Guy Fawkes Day this week and what a cruise! Valdivieso was founded in 1879 and the first wines they produced were sparkling wines, so it was onlyfitting that we started off the night with their Extra brut. As we boarded the Silver Sturgeon at the Savoy Pier we were greeted by trays of the Valdivieso Firecracker, a cocktail of brandy, fresh morello cherries, cinnamon liquor and Valdivieso Extra Brut sparkling wine. Fantastic! It   was so easy to down a couple of those before dinner. Valdivieso were showcasing their Reserve wines for us and we sampled the Reserve Sauvignon Blanc ’06, Reserve Viognier ’07, Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ’06 and the Reserve Syrah ’05. Notice how they prefer to call it Syrah as opposed to Shiraz. The whites were superb. I found the Reserve Sauvignon blanc ’06 to have plenty of tropical fruits on the nose and palate as well as a lovely herbaceousness to it, with a well rounded, almost silky body but with a crispiness to it that didn’t let me down at dinner. The Reserve Viognier ’07 was also well done. A fabulous floral nose, quite aromatic on a full bodied but not oily wine. The winemakers produced a well balanced wine with the ability to cleanse the palate while at the same time not losing any of the fruit characteristics of the varietal.  Both of these wines were great on their own but they really rose to the occasion with the fish pie served for dinner. The reds were no less impressive, although I thought the Reserve Syrah 05 was the standout of the evening. Chile is really beginning to make a name for itself with syrah and based on this liquid elixir, I can see why. A wonderfully spicy nose up front, typical black pepper notes...

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