What I’m Drinking Now: Chilean Reds

I participated in an online group tasting the other evening of Chilean red wine led by Cesar Morales, the enological manager for Viñedos Emiliana S.A., a winery that is creating organic and bio-dynamic wine from vineyards in the Casablanca, Maipo and Rapel valleys of Chile.  A graduate with distinction from the University of Chile that also worked in South Africa, Bordeaux and Tuscany, Cesar has been a leader for Emiliana as they have moved to become a winery dedicated to the care and protection of the environment, earning them the ISO 14001 certification, the first in Chile.  

Along with this tasting of Chilean reds I have also received some Chilean blends for editorial consideration that are good, food friendly finds… relatively reasonably priced with big, bold fruit flavors.  Here are a few favorites:

2005 Valdivieso Eclat  – a blend of 56% Carignan, 24% Mourvedre and 20% Syrah this is a complex wine with aromas of juicy red fruits like raspberry and red plums and wild flowers.  The grapes are hand picked through April in the Maule Valley of Chile (they are on opposite seasons,) and is aged for 12 months in French oak post an additional 14 days of maceration (leaving the grapes on their skins) post fermentation before pressing.  The wine is bold, but the tannins are soft and the overall flavor was full bodied and impressive.  I have had other wines from this winery and this is the best so far.   

2008 Montes Limited Selection Cabernet Sauvignon Carmenere – 70% Cab, 30% Carmenere this wine does a nice job highlighting “the grape” of Chile with the Carmenere without overpowering the wine.  Carmenere can sometimes have a distinct vegetal, Tabasco aroma/taste that tells a taster immediately what they are drinking.  This one has hints of that, but mostly the flavors of ripe cherry, coffee and cedar.  The wine is from Montes La Finca Estate in the Apalata Valley in Santa Cruz D.O., a sub-denomination of Xolchagua Valley.  Montes also makes a Kaiken in Mendoza, Argentina and Napa Angel in California’s Napa Valley.  The common thread, creating great Cabernet Sauvignon.

2007 Emiliana Coyam  – Big, big red blend of 38% Syrah, 21% Carmenere, 17% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot, 1% Mourvedre.  This is really an example of why New World wines can be so special, they can blend anything they want to create a wine that suits their palate; no Old World rules that only Chardonnay is in Chablis or a Bordeaux can’t contain Syrah.  From the Colchagua Valley the wine is filled with smoked bacon and ripe berries like blackberry and blueberry with chocolate and spice.  The wine is surprisingly smooth, though big and bold.  Should be enjoyed with food, but it can be as simple as a charcuterie plate.  Aging for a bit will continue to soften the tannins and create a silky finish. 

2009 Oveja Negra Cabernet Franc Carmenere  – With a goal to become the most well known wine in Chile through its promotion of being the “black sheep” wine, daring to be different and original this Maule Valley winery dares to create unique and flavorful blends.  This one with 70% Cab Franc, 30% Carmenere.  I love Cab Franc and am often drawn to one for its earthy, green vegetal flavors with balanced fruit.  This one blends this with ripe fruit like plum and currant with that earthiness, coffee and spicy red pepper from the Carmenere. 

2007 Casas del Bosque Gran Estate Selection Family Reserve – a blend of 61% Syrah, 26% Merlot and 13% Pinot Noir the Pinot and Syrah really shine in this wine.  Both varietals are somewhat up and comers in the region, and this one is a good representation of how it can be done well.  Handled with kid gloves through harvest, fermentation and pressing to ensure the wine produced will have the proper color, flavor and intensity.  Aged 22 months in completely new French barrels and then held for 6 months for cellar aging prior to release the wine is filled with heady, earthy aromas with anise, currant, mingled with violet, lavender and sweet spices.  A complex wine that was good now, but will be great in a few years. 

With the exception of the Casas del Bosque all are priced under $30 a bottle, the Casas del Bosque is around $50.

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