Cono Sur wines sponsor the Tour de France

Jun 08, 15 Cono Sur wines sponsor the Tour de France

Posted by in All

Cono Sur Head Winemaker and CEO Adolfo Hurtado was in town recently to talk about their continued sponsorship of the Tour de France. This is the second year that Cono Sur has been the official wine of the Tour. It may sound rather unusual to have a Chilean winery sponsoring a French sporting event but they have been allowed to be one of the official sponsors. The only catch being, they can only advertise while on the legs of the tour that are not actually held in France. It’s only fitting as they are known as the wine with “the bicycle on front” that they should sponsor the Tour. The sponsorship is not coincidental as they are obsessed with bicycles in the vineyards of Cono Sur. As a matter of fact, their employees travel all through the vineyards and home again on bicycles. Adolfo commented that when you visit, there is always a row of bicycles waiting for the next rider. Cono Sur has commissioned limited edition Bicycle bells to commemorate the 102nd edition of the Tour de France. “These specially commissioned golden bells are to give thousands of Bicicleta wine drinkers something extra to remember whilst enjoying these great wines as well as this exciting sporting event.“ The bells will be on the Bicicleta range of wines. Cono Sur wines will as noted earlier be featuring in the ‘pre-race’ caravan during the Grand Depart phases which this year take place in the Netherlands and Belgium. Of course, Adolfo also had some wines for us to try. We were treated to their range of pinot noir wines. They are becoming increasingly well known for their pinot noir and Adolfo is very proud of all the work they’ve done over the years to find the best terroir for pinot noir in Chile. He says that the style and quality of Chilean pinot noir has improvedand changed a lot over the years. They have now gotten to the point where they are selecting the best spots to...

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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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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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Vertical tasting of Chilean wine – Casa Real 1989 to 2010

Jan 30, 12 Vertical tasting of Chilean wine – Casa Real 1989 to 2010

Posted by in Chile

A few weeks ago I went to a wine workshop organized by the Chilean premium wine producer, Santa Rita Estates on the top floor of Millbank Tower. What a view! What was just as impressive was the vertical of their super premium wine, Casa Real. Going back to the first vintate 1989, we tasted through to the latest  2010. Casa Real is a true “vintage” wine in that they only make the wine in exceptional years, just like Vintage Port or Vintage Champagne. Since 1989 there have been only 8 productions of Casa Real. The region is dear to the heart of the winemaker Cecilia Torres, who has been the winemaker of Casa Real since 1989. She thinks the vineyards, Alto Jahuel, are capable of producing such fine wines because of it’s terroir of alluvial soils above a layer of clay which gives excellent drainage and impart a minerality to the wines. The vines are 50 years old but still going strong. The wine is 100% cabernet sauvignon, aged in French oak barrels for between 12 and 14 months. Tasting the wines, they all showed excellent balance- fruit, acidity, tannins all there existing harmoniously. One of the presenters noted that these wines are very exciting because they show the future and the ageability of Chilean wine. He predicts that in future, Chile will have more super premium wines appearing in the marketplace.  Cecilia commented that her favourites were from the 1990’s as they exhibited light and elegant qualities and they haven’t dried out or lost their fruit character. Off all the vintages, the 1989 is her favourite. We tasted 2010, 2008, 2005, 2002, 1999, 1997, 1995 and 1989. I started with the youngest and worked my way back. The 2010 and 2008 were full of ripe red fruits and bitter chocolate notes, the tannins still grainy but not unpleasing to the palate. I could taste already that they were going to develop into exceptional wines, the quality of the fruit disclosing itself already. 2005...

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Wines at Altitude – Carmenere and Malbec

Jan 27, 12 Wines at Altitude – Carmenere and Malbec

Posted by in Argentina, Chile

I don’t hate Carmenere. It’s often referred to as the “marmite” of wine, you either love it or hate it. I fall into the ambivilent category, neither hating it nor loving it. I was given a little more insight into carmenere when I participated in a wine workshop sponsored by Santa Rita Estates, a premium Chilean producer, which sought to shed a bit more light on not only the wines of Chile but also it’s neighbour, Argentina and it’s flagship grape, Malbec. I participated only in the red wine tasting of the seminar but there was a white wine tasting in the morning. The Carmenere tasting was lead by Tim Atkin MW, Brian Croser and Peter Richards MW with Panellists Andres Ilabaca and Sebastian Labbe. Peter Richards MW noted that carmenere is still relatively new and that it needs more time and that he has “…no doubt that quality will increase in time. Lots of different kinds of Carmenere will emerge, as it’s a naturally varied variety…” Viña Casa Silva, Santa Rita Estates, Carmen Winemakers, and Concha y Toro were all on show, an mix of 2008 and 2009 vintages. What was most evident was the slight green notes of the wines and the tannins. I also found that there was a coffee bean character to them, but I liked that! The standout was not surprisingly a blend, 85% carmenere, 10% carignan and 5% cabernet the 2009 Apalta by Carmen Winemakers. Carmenere seems to work best when blended and this wine was fresh, spicy and full of fruit. The added varities seemed to give the wine a lift and extra dimension. Carmenere is still a work in progress for the Chileans. After a short break we reconvened for Malbec. I’ve drunk a lot of malbec, mostly in Argentina, so I was looking forward to tasting these wines. Colome Estate, Bodega Noemia, and Dona Paula were all on tasting. Salta is one of the highest altitude wine producing regions in the world, if not the...

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