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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Torrontes on the beach

It’s amazing how easy it is to waste time on Twitter! As much as I love it, it can be a distraction. For example, I got up at noon today (really, I’m an early riser, well 9-ish most days but I’m still recovering from jet lag) all ready to finish off this here post and then the little bird started chirping at me. Should I look? Oh, wait, I see a mention, ok, just one peek. Good morning to you @andrewshot. Ok, back to work. Another chirp. WHAT?!! Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize? Gotta tweet my remarks on that. Ok, back to work. Maybe I should do #Follow Friday? And so it goes….ANYWAY…. Right before my holiday, I went to the Argentine wine trade tasting in London and had quite a few surprisingly delicious wines made from the white varietal, torrontes. I say surprisingly because when I lived in Buenos Aires, the torrontes served up there was truly horrid.  But I digress…torrontes is claimed by Argentina as it’s flagship white wine. No one knows how it got to Argentina but recent DNA profiling suggests it’s a relative of malvasia and most likely came over with the Spanish missionaries back in the day. Either way, it’s the white that Argentina calls it’s own. Somehow it ended up on a tiny little island in the Calibogue Sound off the the coast of S. Carolina. Yeah, the Argentines have reached even remote Haig Point on Daufauskie Island. I spotted the Crios 2007 Torrontes made by Susannah Balbo, one of the most well known and respected winemakers in Argentina on the Calibogue Restaurant winelist and had to order it. The Crios line is her effort to produce reasonably priced, drinkable wine. We had some for lunch on our next to last day of vacation… Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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No Burgundy Clones here – Viña Leyda P. Noir ’07

Last week we tried a new Pinot that arrived in the shop – Viña Leyda Pinot Noir, Las Brisas Vineyard, 2007. I like a good Burgundy any day but I keep an open mind to the New World, especially when it comes to Pinot Noir. I’ve had some great stuff from New Zealand and the Pacific Northwest. There is a difference, no doubt, but I think that good producers of pinot noir in the New World do their best to stamp their own identity on the  wine rather then try and make a Burgundy clone. The Leyda pinot noir is made with fruit sourced from a single vineyard, Las Brisas. Brisas means breeze in Spanish and this vineyard is situated on the southwest slope of the estate, where there is less direct sunlight and more exposure to the ocean breeze, which keeps the grapes cool and allows them to develop slowly. When I opened this one, the first thing that hit me was a rather fruity attack to my nose and I hadn’t even poured it yet! This wine had a full-on nose of red cherries, ripe strawberries and raspberries. After a minute or so, we began to detect spicy notes and hints of bramble,wild herbs and a subtle smokiness. The wine spent 8 months in used French oak barrels, which was apparent but not overbearing. On tasting it, I thought it had a juicy, mouthwatering palate of ripe red berries, cherry and bramble with a bit of smokiness. A silky, medium bodied number with a hint of minerality on the finish. Despite the fact that the alcohol level was 14%, the alcohol didn’t assault my palate or nostrils. This wine had jumping acidity and was great on it’s own but I’m not sure if it was necessarily food friendly. I had some chicken with it and it didn’t really add anything to my enjoyment of dinner. This is a very fruity wine but it’s not subtle. And that’s the difference between Old and...

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