Sunday, March 9, 2008

Tasting Wines from Chile & Argentina

The Vineyard's "Big Taste of South America" tasting on Sunday, March 9th featured 24 wines from Chile and Argentina. I want to start out by stating that this was a very organized tasting: We were provided with a handy price list to refer to throughout the tasting which also doubled as an order sheet for efficient check-out at the counter. Taster A was very thorough with the note-taking (on the back of the price list). After we tasted everything we took our price list to the counter, had our order filled, and walked out…without Taster A’s notes (which we discovered after we got home much to his chagrin)! So, now I am writing up the event instead of him since I made a point of making mental note of the highlights (because I wasn’t taking notes).

Table One: Gary Ballard, Classic Wine Imports

Bodega Lurton Pinot Gris, Mendoza Argentina
Santa Ema Sauvignon Blanc 2007, Chile
Santa Ema Chardonnay 2006, Chile
Bodega Lurton Torrontes, Mendoza Argentina
Santa Ema Cabernet 2006, Chile
Colonia La Liebres Bonarda, Mendoza Argentina
Altos Las Hornigas Malbec, Mendoza Argentina
Michel Rolland Clos de Los Siete 2006, Mendoza Argentina
Santa Ema Reserve Merlot 2004, Chile

Table Two: Joe Nardone, Classic Wine Imports

Montes Sauvignon Blanc 2006 Casablanca-Curico, Chile
Montes Chardonnay 2006 Curico Valley, Chile
Montes "Cherub" Rose of Syrah 2007Colchagua Valley, Chile
Montes Merlot 2006 Colchagua Valley, Chile
Montes Cabernet/Carmenere 2006, Chile
Kaiken Malbec 2006, Mendoza Argentina
Kaiken Ultra Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendoza Argentina
Montes Alpha Syrah 2006 Apalta Vnyd. Colchagua, Chile

Table Three: Prescott Hobson, TGIC Imports

Pascual Toso Sparkling NV, Mendoza Argentina
Pascual Toso Sauvignon Blanc 2007, Mendoza Argentina
Pascual Toso Chardonnay 2007, Mendoza, Argentina
Pascual Toso Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, Mendoza Argentina
Bodega Norton Reserve Cab 2005, Mendoza Argentina
Pascual Toso Reserva Malbec 2005, Mendoza Argentina
Bodega Norton "Privada" 2005, Mendoza Argentina

A lot of very nice wines in the $8-$25 range were shown. I won't do a comprehensive review of every wine poured at this event as I didn’t take notes but, here are some highlights:

The Whites
One of the bottles we walked away with was the Montes Sauvignon Blanc 2006. This was an exemplary Sauvignon Blanc with lemon and grapefruit on the nose. The palate echoed the citrus notes found on the nose and was crisp and without the mushroom notes often present in Sauvignon Blanc. Joe told us that they employ judicious use of neutral oak on this wine just to take the edge off. There was no detectable oak, just a lack of sharpness that is often found in 100% stainless steel Sauvignon Blanc.

Torrontés is a representative grape of Argentina and well known, however, this was our first sample of the floral white grape. I got lilac along with citrus notes on the nose.

The Reds
Another bottle that came home with us was the attractively priced Colonia La Liebres Bonarda ($8.99 after our $1 Cabernet Credit). This was our first sample of Bonarda and we found it shared some characteristics in common with ruchè, with rose (among other things) on the nose. This wine definitely had some Italian-like characteristics which made it very popular with us--of course!

So, we were standing at Station 2 working on some Malbec, when we heard a fellow taster nearby quip “I wonder if it’s micro-oxygenated.” Taster A and I were wondering what she detected in the taste that told her it was micro-oxygenated...then we looked at our sheet and realized that she was already working on the Michel Rolland Clos de Los Siete 2006. This is note-worthy to us as it was our first knowing sampling of Michel’s wine-making technique. Whatever might be said about this well known consultant, the guy knows how to make a tasty wine, and yes, it most certainly must have seen micro-oxygenation. By the way, this wine received a 90 point score from Robert Parker.

While we didn’t go home with any this time, the Kaiken wines were quite good. The Malbec 2006 holds the distinction of being the first Malbec that Taster A (not a Malbec fan) liked. The Ultra Cabernet Sauvignon had a nose reminiscent of a Port, and was surprisingly structured on the palate.

The third and final bottle we took home from this event was the Pascual Toso Cabernet Sauvignon 2006. I think my exact words were “this is my comfort wine.” For those of you who’ve seen Ratatouille, when I took the first sniff of this wine, I was like Anton Ego after his first bite of Remy’s Ratatouille: *whoosh* right back: in my case to a California winery (in Ego’s case, to his mother’s French country kitchen). I’m not going into this one any more than that because Taster A’s consolation for missing out on doing this write-up himself is that he gets to do a full-length post on this Cab.

Taster B (that’s me) also picked up a few items from the selection of Gourmet goodies. A good time, and many a good wine, was had by all!


Richard A. said...

Sounds like it was a fun tasting. I would also give the thumbs up to the Colonia La Liebres Bonarda. I very much like Bonarda from Argentina and find most are excellent values, many $10 and under.

Dr. Debs said...

I like Bonarda, as well, but that Kaiken Malbec was one of the first to really turn me on to the grape. Thanks for the great notes!

Taster A said...

We liked the Bonarda so much...we brought some home with us!