Wines of Chile Presents #chilereds Cool Climate Blogger Tasting

Dear world,

I was honored to be chosen as one of the 50 bloggers participating online in last night’s Wines of Chile 5th Annual Blogger Tasting. I had never participated in an online event like this, so let me share my experience with you!

Wines of Chile Media Kit - IMPRESSIVE!

Wines of Chile sent this amazing media kit with 8 red wines, thorough tasting notes, maps of Chile’s wine growing regions, a Wines of Chile corkscrew and some tasty Huerto Azul Myrtleberry Chutney with Merkin.

This packaging is GREAT!

Preparing for this took me nearly all day; tasting wine is fun but only with proper preparation. I spent much of Tuesday extricating my Riedel red wine glasses for the tasting and selecting the proper decanter for the Pinot Noir the Master Sommelier suggested could use some decanting prior to tasting.

Cono Sur Pinot Noir in the Riedel Amadeo Decanter

Then, Wednesday I found many of the bloggers and wine makers on Twitter so I could follow the conversation and check out all of the posts for #chilereds. I did not want to miss out on the conversation and commentary by my colleagues because I was hassling with Twitter. During the tasting I was also re-Tweeting and replying to the other bloggers via Twitter and on the tasting chat-stream itself.

If you want to see what we talked about then look up the hashtag #chilereds and follow @WinesofChile and @DrinkChile on Twitter.

By 2:30 I was ready and eagerly (if not impatiently) waiting to swirl, sip and savor the wines. I was especially excited to have all the bloggers online, in conjunction with the wine makers live from Chile and Wines of Chile wine educator Fred Dexheimer, MS live from NYC!


So, 5pm rolls around and I log onto the chat and it went a little something like this:

Pinot Noir starts off the tasting!

We begin #chilereds tasting with Valdivieso Reserve Pinot Noir 2009 from the Casablanca Valley.

Valdivieso Reserve Pinot Noir 2009 Casablanca Valley $16.99

Medium brick-red appearance. Spicy strawberries, earthiness, hint of black fruit aromas. Flavors of ripe strawberries, rich mushrooms, toast and a spicy balsamic finish.

The wine was presented by winemaker Brett Jackson who had such a lovely lilt in his New Zealand accent, I loved it!

During the tasting there were also questions from the bloggers posed to the wine makers in Santiago, Chile and the first was about fruit sourcing. A blogger wanted to know if wine makers work exclusively in one valley or in many wine valleys in Chile and how the fruit is different?  That complex question could have been answered in about 5 hours… Brett said many wine makers are working with fruit in Casablanca Valley and in other valleys in Chile and the climate, the terroir and many other factors all vary and that is why wine makers choose more than one area to work with the different grapes Chile has to offer.

Next wine up is @x_pacheco Viña Casablanca Nimbus Estate Pinot Noir 2009 @drinkchile #chilereds.

Viña Casablanca Nimbus Estate Pinot Noir 2009 Casablanca Valley $19.99

Garnet appearance. Aromas of black fruit, fresh red berries, spice with a hint of raspberry jam. More black fruits, spice and depth of fruit mid palate: blackberries and prunes with velvety tannins. A fresh and elegant wine. Fred Dexheimer, MS called this wine a “sexy little number” and I would have to agree.

The wine was presented by winemaker Ximena Pacheo, the only woman winemaker on the panel. Suggestions were made that women have better palates and therefore make better wines…and the men just moved onto another topic :). Someone got technical and asked what was the barrel regime for Nimbus? “Only 20% new oak, all French oak which spends approximately 12 months in barrel before bottling.” Then we talked about the Nimbus line; Nimbus is a cloud formation and in the Casablanca Valley the cooler climate created by fog in the morning giving way to warmer afternoons helps craft these very distinctive wines.

Another question was, how are we going to get more Chilean Pinot Noir in America? “Well, order and drink more Chilean Pinot Noir” replies one of the Chilean wine makers!

Veramonte’s Ritual Pinot Noir 2009 @drinkchile #chilereds.

Veramonte’s Ritual Pinot Noir 2009 Casablanca Valley $19.99

Rich garnet color all the way to the rim of the glass. Aromas of cherries, smoke, spice and some forest floor. On the palate the tannins are chewy and well-integrated with flavors of cherries, raspberries, with a dose of toast and oak that complements rather than overpowers the smooth, lingering finish. A rich and decadent wine say the bloggers who love the label, and the wine, saying it had more of an old world style.

I noted to the bloggers that Agustin Huneeus of Veramonte also makes a wine for @LongShadowsWine in WA state #chilereds.

The wine was presented by head winemaker Cristian Aliaga. There was talk about Pinot Noir clones, and I wondered if clones were used as a marketing tool on Chilean wine labels? But the conversation went too fast and we had to move onto the next wine.

Cono Sur Ocio Pinot Noir 2008 was decanted for an hour or so prior to tasting #chilereds @drinkchile.

Cono Sur Ocio Pinot Noir 2008 Casablanca Valley $65

The appearance is deep ruby. Inviting aromas of cherry, strawberry and raspberry; red fruit dominated with some hints of Cassis. Flavors include raspberry jam, hyper ripe black fruits, a layer of spice, silky smooth tannins with an evolution of finish that lingers for a long time. Beautiful.

Winemaker Matías Ríos Langevin talked about the soft tannins and fruit ripeness potential from the great vineyard they use in the Casablanca Valley. He said it was more of a southeast facing terroir which grows more sophisticated wines. Bloggers asked how long do you spend looking at the weather as a winemaker? Does it take much of your time to predict and look at frost, rain etc? Wine makers reply in unison, “Yes, all of the above is the answer.”

Wines of Chile noted that $15-$20 is a great price range for Pinot Noir. The bloggers agreed and said that quality and the value of Chilean Pinot Noir gives Oregon and New Zealand a run for their money. Does Wines of Chile plan to exploit this $15-$20 Pinot Noir market since there is such great value and the wines are awesome? Wine makers? Are you passionate about getting into the US market at this price point? They all reply, yes.

Fred Dexheimer, MS answered the many regionality questions posed by the bloggers by saying, “In Chile we isolate parts of each wine growing region to identify which grapes work best and where to promote these grapes in their optimal growing regions.”

My comments thus far:

  • The oak regimes on some of the Pinot Noir wines are pretty heavy given the delicate nature of the grape. They make it work but I’d like to see more fruit expression since I know the grapes are well suited to the Casablanca Valley growing region.
  • More black fruit flavors instead of the hallmark cherry flavor I’m used to from Pinot Noir.
  • While sampling the wines I had crackers, some Cheddar, Manchego, a Norwegian goat cheese and homemade meatballs with the Huerto Azul Myrtleberry Chutney with Merkin. And, lots of water in between wines.
  • Bloggers thought the flight of Pinot Noir was worthy of great commendation! Cheers to Chile!

Only one wine tonight @drinkchile is not 100% varietal. The Tamaya Syrah Reserva 2009 Limarí Valley was co-fermented with Viognier #chilereds .

Tamaya Syrah Reserva 2009 Limarí Valley $16.99

The appearance is a deep purple. Aromas of gamey meats, fusel alcohol, blackberries and green olive juice. Flavors include olive juice and a hint of the sweet gamey aromas. Finishes with raspberries. NOTE: re-tasted in the morning and much less olive juice notes.

Winemaker Rodolphe Bordeau led the discussion on this wine. A blogger asked him what the growing conditions were in 2009? Limarí Valley 2009 had “Aromatic intensity. Wines from the Limarí Valley are meaty, stone fruits – limestone “stony” – with more graphite, with red and black fruits and are quite delicate.”

One of the bloggers squealed that this winemaker (bottom) looks like Mario Batali. What do you think?

The Mario Batali of Chile!

Some of the questions about grapes, Syrah in particular, were as follows. Are there places in Chile that are great for growing everything? “Yes, I have been experimenting in new areas until people quit calling me crazy and start calling me a genius.” I wish I could remember which winemaker extolled that little gem!

Fred Dexheimer, MS also noted that Syrah is new to Chile, the “new kid on the block” so to speak; 1996 was the first Syrah bottling. The Syrah grape is taking Chile by storm by winning many best of show in recent wine competitions. Fred Dexheimer, MS prefaced the Syrah tasting by noting that the Syrah grape is adapting to Chile and that tonight we would be tasting 4 regions and 4 wine makers.

Loma Larga Syrah 2006 #chilereds @drinkchile from Casablanca Valley.

Loma Larga Syrah 2006 Casablanca Valley $29.00

The appearance is almost an opaque deep purple, this wine is much darker than other Syrah in the flight. Aromas of leather, Bing cherry, Cassis, spice, some sweet caramel oakiness and a hint of white pepper and, again, a faint whiff of green olive juice (note: I did use different glasses for each wine). On the palate I get more boysenberry, sweaty saddle leather (YUM) with some great structure and a long, lingering black fruit finish.

Winemaker, Cédric Nicolle, commented that they have incredible wines and unique terrior in Chile and that they are still “terroir hunters” searching out the best places to plant new vineyards in Chile.

Undurraga T.H. Syrah 2009 from the Leyda Valley #chilereds.

Undurraga T.H. Syrah 2009 Leyda Valley $24.99

The appearance is deep ruby. Aromas of ripe raspberries, Cassis, tobacco leaf and some black pepper. Flavors consisting of showy Cassis, smooth tannins, well-integrated smoky oak with dried plums and spice and the faintest hint of eucalyptus on this exceptional wine. Best wine pairing with the tasty Huerto Azul Myrtleberry Chutney with Merkin!

Winemaker Rafael Urrejola was dubbed “hot” by the blogger ladies. I wasn’t rating the wine makers…so again, what is the consensus on cuteness factor of the Undurraga winemaker (insert chuckle here from me)?

Winner of the cutest winemaker award goes to...

Hacienda Araucano Reserva Syrah 2009 Lolol Valley #chilereds @drinkchile.

Hacienda Araucano Reserva Syrah 2009 Lolol Valley $13

The appearance is medium purple. Aromas of black pepper, blackberry and a hint of tobacco. Intense blackberry followed by a mid-palate dose of green olives with a seamless peppery and jammy finish.

My comment to this producer was: your wine company has economy of scale. You have the resources to make a great wine at a great price point. Wine maker Luca Hodgkinson replies “Yes, we can and we have a large team and we can do it for a better price. From Portugal to Argentina to Chile, there is a lot of international influence in Chile.” Araucano is also the name of Chile’s indigenous people.

Another blogger asked vintage vs. region? “There is much more diversity in the regions as opposed to vintage.” And, what other reds are suited to Chile’s cool climates? “Carmenere, even though many other wine makers don’t think it can ripen here. There is an ‘almost natural freshness’ to the grape”.

My closing comments:

  • I was impressed with the wide scope of participants and really impressed that the wine makers were in attendance to answer some of our questions and put a face and personality to the wines.
  • Many bloggers were pushing for a trip to Chile. I can’t blame them, having been there I am infinitely more inclined to taste and to spread the good word for Chilean wines. I do think Wines of Chile should organize a “Familiarization Visit” of some sort for serious buyers, bloggers and professional wine individuals whom Wines of Chile may realize they should start working with to promote Chile in North America. Every wine commission needs a handful of people in the industry who are great at promotion and speaking; Fred Dexheimer, MS is a great addition to the Wines of Chile team.

Gracias, buenos noches from NYC and Santiago and Washington state!


© Winnie’s Wine World, 2011.


~ by winnieswineworld on April 15, 2011.

4 Responses to “Wines of Chile Presents #chilereds Cool Climate Blogger Tasting”

  1. Great post; I love the screen captures from the live feed. And your Riedel Amadeo has given me decanter-envy.

  2. What a great post. I am intruiged by the chilean wines, which of course was the point. Thanks for doing this. -kate

    • Kate, thanks for checking out the blog. Chile is a great country to visit and the wines they are making are phenomenal! I can’t wait to go back again and visit my wine industry pals.


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