Highlights of the Chilean wine tasting and seminar — October 2014

The annual Chilean tasting is always an event worth attending, but like all large events, it’s difficult to taste accurately and thoughtfully. Usually my goal is to find a few highlights, and get a general appreciation of trends and activity.

But the added bonus with this show is that I am sometimes able to attend the preliminary seminar, that features a theme promoted by the Wines of Chile organizers, and that also gives attendees the opportunity to taste a series of wines in a quieter environment. Here are five of the wines from the seminar that I particularly appreciated.

I actually tasted the MontGras 2014 Amaral Sauvignon Blanc, Leyda Valley (LCBO #367292, $13.85) earlier in the month, and it showed extremely well again. The wine came from a typically cool but not cold vintage for this coastal region. The wine is very pale with green highlights; the nose is intense, with green and grassy notes that nestle under the crisp mineral and fruit, suggesting Meyer lemon as well as lemon and grapefruit, and yellow and green apples. The wine is dry with very elevated acidity. The citrus and apple fruit on the palate are supplemented by hay and grass, and even a hint of spearmint. The finish is crisp. This is a terrific value at $13.85 in Ontario. 89

Via Wines 2013 Chilcas Single Vineyard Chardonnay, Itata Valley — this is the first release of this wine. The wine is medium straw, with suggestions of yoghurt, cheese curd and dusty resin over lemon and yellow apple fruit on the nose. The wine is dry, with crisp acidity, and yet has some richness on the palate. In fact the wine spent 12 months on oak, and 30% underwent malolactic fermentation. Very good first wine. 88

Montes 2012 Alpha Pinot Noir, Aconcagua Costa (Vintages #143214, $19.95, 14.5% alcohol). The wine is light ruby, showing garnet highlights. The nose expresses vibrant cranberry, raspberry, strawberry and cherry fruit with sweet vanilla, yet underneath there are dried herbs, earth and savoury notes. The wine is dry, though a sweetness suggests some residual sugar, and has surprising acidity given the apparent elevated alcohol. The fruit, earth and oak spice fill the palate, and there is some heat on the finish. Very much a new world wine, with the alcohol and fully ripe fruit, and yet the earthy and savoury notes add real interest. 89

Errazuriz 2012 Single Vineyard Syrah, Aconcagua Costa (Vintages #387910, $24.95, 13.5% alcohol). The wine is deep ruby, with purple-violet on the rim. The nose suggests bright blackberries, black currants and blueberries, all quite ripe, with vanilla and oak resin, a floral element, and just a hint of earth and twigs. The wine is dry, with elevated acidity, medium body, balanced alcohol and medium soft and ripe tannins. Dried earth, violets, blueberry and blackberry fruit carry through to a pleasant finish. Modern and new world. 89

Santa Rita 2012 Floresta Cabernet Franc, Pumanque. The wine is deep ruby-purple, with a rather subdued nose that first suggested earth, dried herbs and underbrush rather than fruit. But as it opened up, blackberry and black currant fruit became more apparent. The wine is dry, with elevated acidity and alcohol, and grippy, mouth-coating tannins. The fruit is more prominent on the palate. This wine needs some bottle age, but I’m interested in trying it again in a year or two. 88

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