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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