Wines of Chile: A Terroir Master Class

I recently participated in the eighth Wines of Chile Blogger Tasting:  A Chilean Terroir Master Class.  The tasting was led by Fred Dexheimer, Master Sommelier, who participated from Santiago joined by 12 Chilean winemakers including a representation of women winemakers.  The focus was the breadth of the region’s terroir.  The Wines of Chile’s PR folks always do things first class, so I was excited when a well branded case of several varietals including sauvignon blanc, pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon and carmenere arrived at my door prior to the tasting.

Chile actually has several hundred years of wine heritage –in parallel with the arrival of the first Spanish conquerors. By mid-19th century, Chilean businessmen started looking at France as a model for winemaking and they brought back rootstocks to Chile.  In the 80s, Miguel Torres, a well-known Spanish winemaker, started making wines in the Curicó Region and began state-of-the-art winemaking and the expansion of other regions.

We tasted 12 wines from several different regions and I was surprised by the diversity of the wines:

Sauvignon Blanc

  • Vina Casablanca Nimbus Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2012, Casablanca Valley ($12.99) – minerality, apple, citrus and herb; very refreshing and not too fruity.  My favorite white that I tried
  • San Pedro 1865 Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Leyda Valley ($19) – unfortunately this bottle had turned, but it received lots of positive reviews from the other bloggers
  • Casa Silva Cool Coast Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Colchagua Valley ($25) – pineapple, lemongrass, floral and great acidity

Pinot Noir

  • Emiliana Novas Pinot Noir 2010, Casablanca Valley ($19) – funk on nose, tobacco, raspberries, cocoa, smoke and lavender
  • Cono Sur 20 Barrels Pinot Noir 2009, Casablanca Valley ($32) – very fruity with red stone fruit, cherries and leather.  This was my favorite Pinot
  • Morande Gran Reserva Pinot Noir 2009, Casablanca Valley ($17.99) – cinnamon, floral and spice

Carmenere

  • Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Carmenere 2010, Cachapoal Valley, ($22) – I tasted chocolate, wood and berry.  I really wanted more from this wine, but never got the payoff
  • Carmen Gran Reserva Carmenere 2010, Colchagua Valley, ($14.99) – blackberries, spice and smoke.  A very interesting wine
  • Koyle Royal Carmenere 2009, Colchagua Valley, ($25.99) – very meaty, green pepper, herbal, lush and silky.  This was my favorite Carmenere

Cabernet Sauvignon

  • Ventisquero Grey Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Malpo Valley, ($29) – this tasted of cherries, cola, herbs and black pepper with floral notes
  • Maquis Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Colchagua Valley, ($19) – smoke, leather and violet
  • Los Vascos Le Dix Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Colchagua Valley, ($64.99) – this wine was made in commemoration of Barons de Rothschild (Lafite’s) 10 years of work in Chile.  It’s a limited quantity wine and had lots of vanilla, cedar, eucalyptus, cherry and chocolate.  This was my favorite wine, but had the steepest price tag

This is my second time to participate in a #winesofchile tasting and the evolution and diversity of these wines continues to impress.