Tag Archives: Chile

Friday Tasting in the Shop; South American Wines: 5PM – 8PM

December 1, 2017

Meet Nieves Edwards, who represents Clos de Luz (where her brother is winemaker) and Andes Plateau. We’re tasting all reds this evening, on the mid-to-upper end of the price range (thinking gifts) from $24 to $60. Notes are below.

Clos de Luz Valle del Colchagua Cabernet Sauvignon ‘Massal 1945’, 2014

Clos de Luz Valle del Colchagua Carmenere ‘Massal 1945’, 2014

Notes from the importer: Clos de Luz is a family winery located in Almahue Valley, known as the birthplace of Carmenere in Chile – Carmenere represents 75% of the plantings. Winemaker Gabriel Edwards currently runs his family domaine. The estate, bought by his great grandfather in 1892, now spreads over 33 hectares of vineyards, planted in 1945 by Gabriel’s grandmother, Luz. They are some of the oldest Carmenere vineyards in Chile, and probably in the world. The grapes were being sold for more than 20 years to Casa Lapostolle, until Gabriel decided to return to Chile and make his own wine.

Almahue Valley is located 70 miles South East of Santiago, 40 miles from the Pacific Ocean and 28 miles from the Andes Mountains. The viticulture history of the valley started in the XVIIth century during the Spanish colonization era. Modern viticulture started in 1933, when Gabriel’s ancestors planted French grape varieties such as what they thought was Merlot but later was discovered to be Carmenere, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Climate: rain reaches to up to 22 inches during the winter, on average. The growing season (Oct-April) offers beautiful days and warm temperatures with no rain. There are cool breezes in the afternoon and night time temperatures are cold. A wide temperature fluctuation between day and night allows to obtain high concentration in color and tannin. The grapes ripen slowly and reach ideal maturity while retaining a high level of natural acidity, ensuring a long aging potential.

The domaine’s vineyards are 100% ungrafted and certified organic by Ceres. Because Chile is isolated from the phylloxera, they are planted “franc de pied”, giving a unique character to the wines. The vineyards are also 100% Massal selection from old vineyards, as opposed to a large majority of vineyards planted using clonal selection (all genetically identical plants). Massal selection consists in selecting good and healthy vines, and then propagating them from cuttings. This method preserves the natural diversity of the plants. The vineyards are plowed by horses, as the twisted trunks of the old vines make it impossible to use a tractor.

Andes Plateau 700 Red Blend 2014, Central Valley, Chile

Andes Plateau is inspired by the the altitude, colors, sky and terroir of the Andes Mountain range.

After working for two years at San Pedro Vineyards in Chile, enologist Felipe Uribe got his Masters in viticulture and enology from the Polytechnic University in Madrid. He then returned to Chile where he was assistant winemaker at Santa Helena Vineyard. From there he went to work at La Crema, then back to Chile where he was assistant winemaker at DeMartino, before becoming chief winemaker at Miravalle Vineyard.

700 is a red blend of 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Syrah, 2% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Carignan. It’s fresh as the mountain air, and imbued with mint, black pepper, and crunchy black fruit. Organic.

Bodega Chacra, Pinot Noir Cincuenta y Cinco, Patagonia, Argentina

Notes are from the importer, and here’s a nice New York Times article on the producer. And here’s a podcast.

Bodega Chacra is located in the Rio Negro Valley of northern Patagonia. The property’s location in the arid central Argentine desert is tempered by the confluence of the Neuquen and Limay Rivers, both of which flow from the Andes and converge in the Rio Negro.

The climate is dry and the area gets an average of seven inches of rainfall annually. This aridity, coupled with the natural barrier of the surrounding desert, results in a complete absence of phylloxera. The soil of the Rio Negro Valley, an ancient riverbed composed of limestone, sand, and clay, coupled with the Valley’s pristine pollution-free air and tremendous luminosity, makes for ideal conditions to grow Pinot Noir.

In 2004, Piero Incisa della Rocchetta purchased the first of Bodega Chacra’s vineyards, a property with an existing, though abandoned, vineyard planted in 1932. This vineyard of gnarled and ungrafted Pinot Noir vines was later added to a neighboring vineyard of vines planted in 1955. From these two old vine vineyards, Piero produces two distinct single vineyard Pinot Noirs. They are named “Treinta y Dos” and “Cincuenta y Cinco” after the dates of their respective plantings.

Cincuenta y Cinco comes from vineyards planted in 1955 which gently rest on a sea of pebbles, typical in riverbed soils. It is fermented with its whole bunches at very low temperatures, enhancing the floral characteristics of the wine. It is essential 90% whole cluster with the rest of the stems used to make the pied de cuve. Cincuenta y Cinco has the most tension of all of Piero’s wines. It is aged in a combination of mostly neutral oak barrels and cement.

Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop, 5pm – 8pm

August 12, 2016

Louis-Antoine Luyt Pipeño Santa Juana 2015

Louis-Antoine Luyt Pipeño Santa Juana

Louis-Antoine Luyt Pipeño Santa Juana

Louis-Antoine Luyt was a student of Marcel Lapierre, of Morgon and natural winemaking fame. He’s a Frenchman in Chile, making natural wines that conjure a mix of cru Beaujolais and the Loire. He makes small lots of biodynamic wines that are complex, intriguing and terroir driven.

Luyt was the winemaker who resurrected Pais, the humble grape of Pipeño, or peasant wine. In 2007 he made Clos Ouvert Uva Huasa, an earthy, fresh and juicy red from vines planted by Spanish conquistadors. People in Chile were dubious about this fascination with Pais, but Luyt was undeterred, so he and Marcel Lapierre set off on a road trip to find ancient, abandoned, dry-farmed plots of the forgotten variety. Luyt and Lapierre then produced a Pais together, El País de Quenehueao, made via carbonic maceration that was evocative of Morgon and cemented the love affair with Pipeño. Lapierre passed away in 2010 but Luyt continued on his journey of finding and purchasing old plots of Pais. With Concha y Toro recently getting in on the game, it’s practically gone mainstream.

Pipeño Santa Juana is from 250 year old, dry-farmed vines. It’s history in a bottle.

Here’s a photo of Santa Juana Pais vines from the beautiful Louis/Dressner site: Santa Juana vine

And here’s a video of the 2014 Luyt Pipeño harvest and production. We want to go to there.
We’re opening up a few other summer-slakers this evening, but we’re too hazy-lazy to write the notes. Stop in and see what’s what!

Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop, 5pm – 8pm

July 1, 2016

Oyster River Villager White, ME

Oyster River is a nearly 100% self-sustaining farm in Warren, Maine, with a very hands-off approach to winemaking. Fermentation is spontaneous with native yeast, and lasts a long time in their cold winery; they only heat with wood from their farm, and they keep it chilly! Sparkling wines and ciders are unsulphured and bottled unfiltered.

Villager White is a 50/50 blend of Serval Blanc and Cayuga, sourced from Serenity Vineyard in the Seneca Lake region of NY. This is a German-influenced easy sipper, that’s off-dry with refreshing acidity.

Weingut Schnaitmann Evoe Rosé 2015, Württemberg, Germany

Weingut Schnaitmann has been in the same family for over 600 years; Rainer Schnaitmann began making wine here in 1997. In 2007 he was chosen as newcomer of the year by Gault-Millau/German Wine Guide and then the estate won the European Pinot Cup two years in a row, a feat no one achieved before or since. Weingut Schnaitmann is farmed organically (certified since 2014) and fermentations are 90% with wild yeast. The 25 hectares of vineyards are planted to 25% Riesling, 25% Lemberger, 20% Pinot Noir, 8% Sauvignon Blanc, 6% Pinot Gris and 16% other (which includes some Pinot Meunier) on soils of gypsum, marl and red sandstone.

Evoe Rosé is mostly Pinot Noir with most likely some Pinot Meunier and Lemberger (aka: Blaufrankisch). It’s deliciously spicy and floral, a little bit of orange and pomegranate mingle nicely with grapefruit, wildflowers and fresh herbs. Don’t drink it too cold or you’ll miss the gentle nuances…

Viña Maitia “Aúpa” Pipeño, Chile

Viña Maitia is a little gem in Chile’s southern Maule Valley. It’s owned and operated by husband and wife David Marcel (vigneron) and Loreta Garau (enologist). David hails from Irouleguy in French Basque country; he met Loreta in Chile, and together they are putting Chile’s traditional (if not indigenous) grapes back on the map, so to speak. Their 10 hectare estate is made up of old vines (at least 120 years old, some older than 150 years) that are farmed without intervention. The focus is on Pais, Carignane, and Malbec. Pais (aka: Listan Negro or Criolla Grande that originated in the Canary Islands) is the mission grape that was brought over by the Spanish in the 1500s. It’s mostly associated with Chilean jug wines that were enjoyed by campesinos (peasant farmers), but David and Loreta saw its potential to be a true “wine of place” and were intrigued with how expressive it could be when made from old, low-yielding vines. Though David prefers the term “ancestral” to “natural”, his wines are just grapes, made with no additives and little to no sulphur.

Aupa Pipeño is 70% Pais and 30% Carignane. The Carignane is whole cluster fermented and the wine is lightly filtered before bottling. If this is anything like what the campesinos were drinking back in the day, then pass the jug! It’s fruity and floral, with a little bit of clove and fresh herbs, a touch of brambles, and the slightest whisper of tannins…drink it with a slight chill, and drink it all summer long.

Veronica Ortega “Quite” Bierzo 2014, Spain

Veronica Ortega grew up in Cadiz, a little coastal town in the Sherry producing region of Jerez. She doesn’t come from a wine making family, but took an interest in wine early on; she first began dipping her toes into winemaking in Priorat, where she worked alongside Alvro Palacios and Daphne Glorian. She then made her way to Burn Cottage in Central Otago, Niepport in the Douro, and then to France, where she learned from greats like Domaine Combier in Croze-Hermitage, and Comte Armand and Domaine Romanée Conti in Burgundy. That’s not a bad resumé.

When she returned to Spain she worked for many years alongside Raul Perez in Bierzo, and in Bierzo she has remained. Here she organically farms 5 hectares of 80 year old (mostly) Mencia vines planted on calcareous clay and granitic sand. The climate in Bierzo straddles cool maritime Galicia and hot Central Spain. These conditions are perfect for producing Mencia that expresses the qualities of fine Pinot Noir and Syrah; in the right hands the grape produces wines that are reflective of the terroir, that are refreshing and bright, savory and complex.

Like all wines here, Quite is made from hand harvested grapes. It’s about 30-50% whole cluster fermented via spontaneous fermentation with wild yeast, in large oak vats. It spends about 4 months in 2nd and 3rd fill French oak. Quite is a delicate, floral, silky and elegant.

Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop, 5pm – 8pm

June 3, 2016

Le Colture Rosé Vinho Spumante Brut

This sparkling rosé is from third generation winemaker Alberto Ruggeri and sourced entirely from his family’s estate vineyards in Valdobbiadene. These vineyards have been in the Ruggeri family since the late 1800s. It’s a blend of Merlot and Chardonnay, fermented in stainless steel, and kept in tank until ready to ship. It’s fresh, bright and dry and makes for the perfect toast.

Domaine de la Fruitiere Vignes Blanches 2014

The Lieubeau family owns Domaine de la Fruitiere which is certifiedTerra Vitis. They farm over 40 hectares of Melon de Bourgogne on the granite for which the region is known. The domaine also produces Vin de Pays from Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. They keep yields as low as possible in order to emphasize varietal expression and not be overtaken by acid. All the vines are planted in rock, usually sheer cliffs, through which the vines must dig for meters to get at sources of water that are awash in wet rock. For this reason the wines of Fruitiere are quite evocative of rock and mineral, and are insanely clean and pure.

This 2014 Vignes Blanches is a blend of Melon de Bourgogne, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. It is so delicious. Just get it in your glass. It’s perfectly balanced, subtle – with notes of green apple and lemon – a touch salty, rocky for sure, and the texture (elegant, silty) just brings it all home. Get yourself some oysters and down this baby. When the 2014 is all gone, the 2015 is hot on its heels. It’s just a tad riper, but still hitting all the right notes.

Berger Gruner Veltliner 2015, Kremstal, Austria

This is a father and son estate on roughly 18 hectares of mostly south-facing vineyards. This Gruner grows on loess terraces which emphasize terroir and characterize the landscape of the eastern part of the Kremstal. These terraces store heat during the day and reflect it onto the vines at night producing wines with unique fruity, fresh and bright flavors. They use stainless steel and cultured yeasts in order to get slow fermentation and to preserve CO2; this further ensures the fresh, fruity, and clean flavors we’ve come to expect and love from this producer.

So we know we just went on about the Fruitiere, but this 2015 Gruner is so delicious too!! We can love more than one thing at one time. Again, the 2015 is riper, and that just emphasizes the fruit, here peaches, citrus, is that a little bit of banana? Maybe… But the mineral notes are still popping, it’s still light and refreshing and oh-so food friendly. It’s a no brainer, and it’s a liter.

De Martino “Viejas Tinajas” Cinsault, Chile
We tasted this wine when it first came in back in March and noted that it would really make a nice summer/seafood red. So we’re tasting it again, now that the season is upon us.

This 100% Cinsault is made in 100 year old amphora or tinajas, (earthenware jugs) that the De Martino family salvaged to bring back this old winemaking tradition. The grapes come from unirrigated vineyards in the coastal mountain region of the Itata Valley, about 14 miles from the Pacific. There is little to no intervention in the winemaking process. After destemming, the grapes were fermented for 15 days in amphora, where they undergo carbonic maceration. It then rests in the same jug and is bottled unfiltered and unfined, with no artificial enzymes or yeasts, and only a small amount of sulfur.

Cinsault is somewhat low in acidity, hence the choice to plant here in the Itata Valley, where the proximity to the ocean, and the cooler climate, help to boost acidity. The wine itself is savory but fresh, with lively acidity alongside earthy, floral, herbaceous notes.

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Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop, 5pm – 8pm

March 4th, 2016

La Perla White Rioja, 2014

The La Perla winery is located in Labastida, an area in Rioja that is at a higher elevation and experiences a cooler climate than most of the region, resulting in wines that are higher in acidity and are especially fresh.

Manuel Ruiz is the 2nd generation winemaker here. The wine is a blend of dry-farmed Viura (92%, 30 year old vines), and 8% Malvasia (50+ years old) sourced from independent growers. It’s fermented in stainless steel and is light and easy, a touch tropical, and will be an easy one to toss back all spring and summer. And it’s super cheap too!

De Martino “Viejas Tinajas” Cinsault 2014, Itata Valley, Chile

This 100% Cinsault is made in 100 year old amphorae or tinajas, (earthenware jugs) that the De Martino family salvaged to bring back this old winemaking tradition. The grapes come from unirrigated vineyards in the coastal mountain region of the Itata Valley, about 14 miles from the Pacific. There is little to no intervention in the winemaking process. After destemming, the grapes were fermented for 15 days in amphorae, where they undergo carbonic maceration. It then rests in the same jug and then goes through malolactic fermentation. It’s bottled unfiltered and unfined, with no artificial enzymes or yeasts, and only a small amount of sulfur.

Cinsault is somewhat low in acidity, hence the choice to plant here in the Itata Valley, where the proximity to the ocean, and the cooler climate, help to boost acidity. The wine itself is fresh and lively, tempered by an earthy, floral, herbaceous notes.

Alto 3 Malbec, Catamarca, Argentina

Catamarca is located 515 miles north of Mendoza, and at 4,947 feet, has some of the highest altitude vineyards in the world. Alto 3 practices organic and biodynamic farming. They ferment in concrete tanks and some of their wines go into clay cones which are buried in the ground; winemaker Carlos Arizu does this because the wines will undergo fewer temperature fluctuations and add structure, in his opinion. Fermentation takes longer but he thinks the process produces more complex wines.

Alto 3 Malbec is alas not one of the wines that goes into cone, but it’s still pretty special. It’s hand-harvested, estate-grown fruit (as are all the wines here). After fermentation in concrete, it goes into French and American oak casks for 6 months. It’s then bottled unfiltered and unfined. This wine is rich & smooth, with mocha, plums, raspberry and tobacco. The finish is long with notes of licorice and spice.