An interview with Marcelo Papa, “Chile shouldn’t play the game of making blockbuster wines”

Sep 25, 14 An interview with Marcelo Papa, “Chile shouldn’t play the game of making blockbuster wines”

Posted by in All, Chile

Marcelo Papa, chief winemaker for Chilean brand, Concha y Toro, is a man on a mission to take Chilean wine back to it’s origins. Last night over a wine tasting and dinner, Marcelo told me, and a select group of wine writers, where he thinks the direction that Chilean wine should take into the future. What he told us was both surprising and exciting, not to mention, bound to be a bit controversial. According to Marcelo, Chilean wines have been pushing the maturity of the grapes too far and he thinks it was a mistake to go for over ripe grapes.  During the tasting, Marcelo said, “Just because you can produce grapes that are overripe, doesn’t mean you have to…” These over ripe grapes produce wines that are big and rich but don’t have any sense of place or origin. He thinks that Chilean winemakers should opt out of the game to make ‘blockbuster’ wines and instead focus on highlighting the true characteristics of the grapes. He feels that Chile has been following a fashion for rich and over ripe wines with high alcohol and no true identity. These wines were ‘international’ in style, they could be from anywhere. This realization came to him one day when he realized that although he is a Chilean winemaker, the wines he was drinking at home were not. He had to ask himself, “Why am  I not drinking Chilean wine? Why do I prefer European wines to drink at home?” And that got him to thinking about Chilean wine making in general and how wine was made in Chile in the past, when he did drink it and enjoyed it. Marcelo decided to put his money where is mouth is and is now taking Concha y Toro winemaking in a new direction. So what is he doing? Firstly, he’s picking the grapes earlier. Marcelo said that in the 1970’s they used to pick early to get the best acidity and true fruit characteristics of the grapes. He...

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Argentine wine and ponies at the HPA Gaucho International Polo tournament

May 29, 13 Argentine wine and ponies at the HPA Gaucho International Polo tournament

Posted by in Argentina, Lifestyle, restaurants

Last week I was invited to the HPA Gaucho International Polo Tournament at the O2. You may be wondering what exactly this has to do with wine? Well, as the Argentine restaurant chain Gaucho is one of the main sponsors, of course Argentine cuisine and wine were going to be involved. The day started with a fantastic lunch at Gaucho at Tower Bridge. The upstairs dining room/bar has great views of Tower Bridge and City Hall. I haven’t eaten at Gaucho in quite some time but the Bife de Chorizo I had was one of the most succulent and tasty steaks I’ve had in a long time. Lunch was paired with wines from Terrazas de los Andes, the rich but elegant Selection 2009 malbec and the savoury Selection 2009 cabernet sauvignon.  Both wines tasting very well, the malbec having deep blueberry fruit notes and the cabernet being an altogether elegant glass of wine. Afterwards we headed to the O2 by Thames Clipper to taste more Argentine wines and chat with Cheval des Andes wine maker, Nicolas Audebert. I’ve known Nicolas for a few years now, and even visited him and the winery in Argentina, so it was great to see him again and find out how the vineyards are doing at the foot of the Andes. We were there for the polo and after watching an exciting match between England and Argentina, Argentina won and was presented with a magnum of Veuve Clicquot and the trophy. Afterwards, there was plenty of Veuve, Terrazas wines and dancing to end the night. Great wines from Argentina, exciting polo and drinking and dancing afterwards, a good night all around. A big thank you to Gaucho for this invitation, looking forward to next year’s match! Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Oldenburg Vineyards Rhodium 2010

Apr 03, 13 Oldenburg Vineyards Rhodium 2010

Posted by in Australia

Rhodium sounds like a precious metal and it is, it’s found alongside platinum and 90% of it is in South Africa. It’s also the name of Oldenburg’s newest release. I think we know where they got the inspiration for the name of the wine. It’s always exciting to be at the launch of a new wine and last Thursday at High Timber restaurant, I was present at a dinner with Oldenburg Vineyards owner Adrian Vanderspuy when he poured for us the first vintage of Rhodium, the 2010. But first a bit of background on Oldenburg Vineyards. Oldenburg Vineyards is owned by South African Adrian Vanderspuy. The estate is a boutique winery comprised of 30 hectares and is in the Banghoek Valley in Stellenbosch. Adrian is just starting out on his winery adventure with Oldenburg, having planted the vineyard only a few years ago and he is still finding his feet so to speak, in regards to what works best for the winery. He’s is a big supporter of chenin blanc and rejected the more conventional sauvignon blanc when he was planting his vineyard. He feels that chenin blanc has a strong connection with South Africa and that they should be encouraging it’s growth within their wine industry. As a matter of fact, Oldenburg have been so successful with their chenin that respected winemaker Ken Forrester buys the grapes Oldenburg doesn’t vinify. As for the reds, thankfully, Adrian is not a big fan of pinotage. I’m not either, although having spoken to some producers, they claim that it’s a matter of finding the right terroir for pinotage. Adrian prefers to leave them to it. He believes that South Africa should lead with single variety and Bordeaux based blends. As such, he is focusing on growing cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and syrah. The Rhodium is the result of this desire to produce world class Bordeaux blends from South Africa. We were treated to the soon to be released and first vintage of the Rhodium, the 2010. What is...

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Voyager Estate 2005 cabernet/merlot, a tasting note

Dec 06, 12 Voyager Estate 2005 cabernet/merlot, a tasting note

Posted by in Australia

Voyager Estate cab/merlot 2005 Winesleuth note: I write wine reviews for and from time to time, I will re-post them here on ‘Sleuth. Here’s a post about a great Australian cab/merlot from Voyager Estate…. I was recently at a wine tasting of Voyager Estate Wines at Vinoteca here in London and it was a very interesting tasting indeed. I have a so-so track record when it comes to Australian red wines but lately I have been tasting some great stuff. Although Shiraz is the flagship wine of Australia, they are making some great wines from other red grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Pinot Noir and even the “wine of Argentina”, Malbec. Voyager Estate is situated in the Margaret River Valley in the South West corner of Western Australia. The region is renowned for its viticultural products and was identified back in the 1960s as a premium wine-growing region of Australia. The region has a range of microclimates and soils. The best vineyards are planted only in the most suitable soils so although the region is spread over 3000 square kilometres, only 54 kilometres are under vine. So I think it’s fair to say that Voyager have picked the best spots to make their wine. Voyager has a range of Estate wines which is their core focus.  They only produce 6 different wines but feel that they reflect best the terroir of the region. They are Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot, Chardonnay, Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc Semillon, Chenin Blanc and the Girt by Sea Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot. At the tasting the stand-out for me was the 2005 Voyager Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot. Comprising 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 5% Malbec and 1% Petit Verdot, all fruit coming from the Margaret River, it is a delicious Bordeaux-style blend coming from Australia. The wine had had enough time to age, something that is not common in Australia. James Stevens, the winemaker was at the dinner and he commented that one of the “problems” with Australian wine drinkers is that they drink their wines far...

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Montes “M” vertical 2001-2010 tasting with Aurelio Montes

Dec 04, 12 Montes “M” vertical 2001-2010 tasting with Aurelio Montes

Posted by in Chile

Chilean winery owner Aurelio Montes was in town the other day on a quick visit to promote his wines. Montes is a Chilean winery, that even with a production of 7 million bottles a year, is considered a small to medium sized winery in South America. Aurelio brought along a vertical of their iconic wine, Montes Alpha M 2001 – 2010 for us to try. Montes makes a variety of wines but the one that Aurelio is most proud of is their “M” series. A Bordeaux blend, it is comprised of 80% cabernet sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 5% merlot and 5% petit verdot. Aurelio compares his wines to those of the Left Bank and told us that it was recently blind tasted in Los Angeles against some of the best Bordeaux in the world. Surprisingly for many, it came out second only to Chateau Lafite. Not bad for a New World wine that’s only been in production for a short time. Before we tasted through the wines, Aurelio advised us that although all the vintages are good, the even numbered years are a bit weaker when compared to the odd numbered years. So, without further ado, my notes on the Montes Alpha M 2001 – 2010, a really good tasting in my opinion… Montes Alpha M 2001: A round and polished wine, licorice and black fruits on the nose with excellent acidity and a lush nose. An intense but not jammy palate with round tannins and a long finish. After awhile notes of freshly brewed tea began to show on the finish. Montes Alpha M 2003: Blackberries and a hint of mint on an integrated, well structured wine, the tannins were not as soft as the 2001 but I didn’t think that was a bad thing. Long finish with a minty freshness to it. Montes Alpha M 2004: This was the wine that came second to Lafite. The year was cooler then average which gave a wine with less intensity in colour, ripe red fruits on the nose...

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