Tuesday, November 24, 2015

#CarmenereDay with Wines of Chile

Yesterday was the 21st year since Carmenère was "rediscovered," having been mistaken for Merlot for many years. One of the six original Bordeaux varietals, Carmenère was brought to Chile in 1851 and is now the 4th largest produced varietal by volume. The name comes from the french word "carmin," or crimson, so named for the fiery red the leaves turn in the fall.

The Carmenère Day celebration was a lot of fun, utilized both Periscope and Twitter, and was celebrated by people all over the world. I was part of a group invited by the Wines of Chile to sample wines and share our experience - though I attempted to tune in to the Periscope offerings, it was too distracting for me and I ended up just chatting on Twitter. Neat idea, but for me, too much.

#CarmenereDay with Wines of Chile

Tasting Notes:
Los Vascos Grande Reserve 2013: ruby red with garnet edges; plum, raspberry, and tobacco aromas; blackberry, black pepper, and herbal notes; this one needs some bottle time to come together more cohesively; cork closure; SRP $20.
Casa Silva Microterroir de los Lingues 2007: average of 14 year old vines; grapes harvested from micro-sites and fermented separately; mix of wild and inoculated yeasts; aged 12-14 months before blending; dark violet with ruby edges; tart red fruit, black pepper, and herbal aromas; dark fruit flavor, then tart red berries into a coffee and black pepper finish; beautifully balanced and a pleasure to drink; cork closure; SRP $50.
Maquis Gran Reserva 2012: 100% hand picking; cold macerated; fermented in stainless steel tanks; malolactic fermentation; in stainless steel tanks; 80% aged 10 months in second and third use French oak barrels, 20% in stainless steel tanks; softer nose with violet, bright red fruit, and strawberry aromas; dark fruit, tobacco, tart red fruit into a black pepper finish; this will be amazing after a few more years in bottle; cork closure; SRP $16.
Lapostolle Cuvée Alexandre Apalta Vineyard 2012: hand harvested organic grapes; 96% Carmenére/4% Syrah; wild yeast; fermented in stainless steel tanks and wooden vats; aged in 225L French oak barrels for 9 months: 58% in new oak, 12% in second use, and 30% third use; deep violet color with ruby edges; blackberry, toast, and black pepper aromas; dark fruit, pepper and lots of herbal flavors; another wine that needs more bottle time; wine bottles are now 15% lighter and made from 60-70% recycled glass; cork closure; SRP $24.
I've long been a fan of Carmenère, appreciating especially the black pepper bite that seems to be found in most, if not all, the examples I've tried. This tasting showed how versatile the grape is, with a variety of styles represented. One unexpected thing was that my favorite wine of the night was the Casa Silva, a wine from 2007; while the other, younger wines were all tasty, but in my opinion, needed more bottle time. Carmenère is a grape that can be aged!

(Wines provided for tasting purposes - all opinions are my own.)

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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Identitá Chicago

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend Identitá Chicago, put on by Identitá Golose with the Merano WineFestival and held at Eataly Chicago. Identitá Golose, founded in 2004 by Italian food journalist Paolo Marchi, is a culinary organization with a mission to highlight the best of contemporary Italian cuisine, showcase the culinary excellence of each Italian region, and honor the top Italian chefs who proudly blend traditional techniques with modern methods. The Merano WineFestival, founded in 1992 by Helmuth Köcher, is one of the world’s largest and most exclusive wine events celebrating the finest selections of Italian and international wines This was a one-time-only tasting event pairing 100 of Italy’s most important wines from 30 of the country’s most acclaimed wineries with bites utilizing Italian products at La Scuola—Eataly Chicago’s cooking school.

Identitá Chicago

When attending a wine tasting like this, with so many options to taste, it's best to make a plan and then stick with it. I opted to taste only wines that were made with varietals I had not tasted before. This limited the amount of wine consumed, exposed me to new grapes (20 more!), and allowed me to add to my Wine Century Club list. Wins all around.

Even with this plan, I could feel the wine going to my head. Happily, this was a very casual tasting, the pourers friendly, and the space not too crowded. The food provided by Eataly Chicago was very tasty and I used some strategically timed breaks to eat good food and drink some water, and take notes on which winery table I would head to next.

A really great afternoon of food and wine - thanks to Wagstaff Worldwide for the invite!

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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Côtes du Roussillon Villages 2014

I recently received a tasting sample from Michel Chapoutier’s Domaine de Bila-Haut, their property in Roussillon. The name refers to an old farm villa which was built high into the mountain slopes, among some old vineyards. The Domaine comprises 75 hectares of land cultivated under bio-dynamic farming techniques almost 150 meters above sea level. The Roussillon vineyards are located on terraces with stony soil, with black and brown schist, gneiss, limestone and chalk.

Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Côtes du Roussillon Villages 2014

Tasting Notes:
Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Côtes du Roussillon Villages 2014: vibrant ruby color; dusty dark fruit aromas with a hint of rhubarb and oregano; dark fruit, mushroom, herb and some tart red berry flavors; medium mouthfeel with a nice bit of acidity; short finish; cork closure; MSRP $15.

 
Trailer Fac & Spera from GFILM on Vimeo.

Wine provided for review purposes - all opinions are my own.

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