On November 5th my husband Eddie (the photographer that forgot the camera) and I ventured out to the Beverly Hills Hotel and met “the new generation of Chilean producers – eight critically acclaimed wineries, showing their wines together in the United States for the first time. Many of these producers have won prestigious international medals for their wines.”
“VIÑA EL AROMO won a gold medal for its Cabernet Sauvignon; VIÑA TERRAMATER won gold medals in Brussels for Shiraz and for Cabernet Sauvignon; VIÑA TRES PALACIOS won two gold medals for its Merlots, SOC. VITIVINICOLA SAGRADA FAMILIA won Gold and Silver medals in National Competitions and international recognition in the Test Achat “Le Guide des Vins”; T. VILLARD FINE WINES Syrah received a 93 point rating from Robert Parker. In addition some of the world’s most high quality olive oils will participate at the tasting and exciting artisanal Chilean products will be on display.”
A true trade tasting! Many of these Chilean efforts, including the olive oils, were looking for U.S. distributors. The wines all had suggested retail price points hovering in the $15 range, with some reserves close to $30. Here the Carmenere grape (think softer Cab) played a large part in the tasting as Chile’s signature varietal.
There was quite a bit of wine to taste around the room and I will limit my column only to the ones of particular note. And if these wines did find distributors on this day, you may want to take note yourself:
We started our “Chilean tour” with Vina Chocalan (meaning yellow blossoms) located on the hillsides of Maipo Valley. The 07 Cabernet Reserva and 07 Malbec were my choices, but we also enjoyed an 08 Carmenere and 07 Reserve Syrah. www.chocalanwines.com
At Vina El Armomo, established in 1922 in the Maule Valley, the 08 Merlot Reserve and 07 Winemaker’s Selection Cabernet Syrah blend got our attention. www.elaromo.cl
Vina Portal Del Alto has vineyards in different regions to “achieve maximum expression”, which they did for us with an 09 Sauvignon Blanc, both 07 and 06 Riserva Cabernets and a Riserva blend of Carmenere an Syrah. www.portaldelalto.cl
At Vina San Jose de Apalta, located in the Rapel Valley with a harvest season running from March to late May, the 07 Riserva Merlot, 06 Cabernet Carmenere Grand Riserva and 07 Riserva blend of 65% Cab, 20% Merlot and 15% Syrah were standouts. www.sanjosedeapalta.cl
Vina Terramater, meaning “Mother Earth”, had an unusual wine, aptly named “Unusual”. We enjoyed both the 07 Unusual and an 07 Sangiovese matched with olive oils they also produce. www.terramater.cl
Our final stop, T. Villard Fine Wines LTDA, got our attention as the table was presided over by the only French-accented representative in the room. Established in 1989 by Thierry Villard as “Chile’s first family premium boutique wine company”, Villard held the crowd with a superior line-up of wines. Of note for us was his crisp 08 Sauvignon Blanc. www.villard.cl
And, not to be outdone, the Beverly Hills Hotel, as a wine tasting venue, offered sharp cheeses, dried fruit and plenty of palate-cleansing crackers and breads (for olive oil dipping – yes!). By the end of the tasting wait staff had entered the room with plated appetizers made with Chilean spices and fruits. The Ceviche, sharp cheese-topped sliders and Empanadas were a welcome treat.