Argentina and Chile have grown significantly during the last two decades in international wine markets. Grape vines cultivation and wine production began since the early years of Spanish settlement in these two countries. Historical records show wine production since the beginning of the XVI century, initially as part of religious organizations activities and later as an established agricultural practice. But only after 1970 the wines from Argentina and Chile started to become familiar names on the tables of restaurants almost all over the world.
In recent years new production areas and new grape varieties have appeared in the market in addition to the traditional Malbec or Torrontés in Argentina, and Carmenére or Cabernet Sauvignon in Chile, which have been flagship varieties of wines since the ‘70s.
In the spirit of Vinotables objective of exploring and tasting wines of high quality and in the process expanding the members’ knowledge of new wines as well as of wine and food pairing, we want to explore some of those new wines which are making noise in the market and are promise of great taste, aromas and flavors.
We have selected from Argentina a Bonarda from Mendoza, and a Pinot Noir from Rio Negro, Patagonia a new production region with great potential for the creation of wines from certain varieties that adapt to colder climates. From Chile we have selected Sauvignon Gris, a white Bordeaux variety that survived the filoxera in Chile, together with Cármenere. There are only a few houses that produce 100% Sauvignon Gris and they are only in France and Chile. Also a few top producers in Bordeaux mix it in their white wines. The red wine from Chile is a Sirah which is comparatively new in Chile but it is growing in quality and popularity, in the same way that it happened with the Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir a few years ago
PRESENTERS: Orlando Mason and Orlando Reos
PARTICIPANTS: Juan Luis Colaiacovo, Orlando Mason, Orlando Reos, Alfonso Sanchez, Peter Scherer
These are the wines:
- 2015 Cousiño Macul, Isidora, Sauvignon Gris, Valle del Maule
- 2016 Bodega Chacra Barda, Pinot Noir, Patagonia
- 2014 El Enemigo Bonarda, Mendoza
- 2015 Montes de Alpha Syrah, Colchagua Valley
- Green salad
- Fried calamari
- Veal Ravioles in aurora sauce
- Beef medallion and vegetables
- Dessert and/or coffee
INFORMATION ON THE WINES
(All information obtained and condensed from several Internet articles.)
2015 Cousiño Macul, Isidora, Sauvignon Gris, Valle del Maule
The Wine: (WE) This varietal Sauvignon Gris isn’t as aromatic as the more pungent Sauvignon Blanc. In the mouth, this is medium in body, with good overall texture. Dry racy flavors of scallion and bitter melon are not exuberant but turn fruitier on the finish.
(The Wine Bow Group) Clear, soft yellow with bright edges, this wine has a delicate freshness and zest on the nose. Fruit aromas of ripe peach, juicy pineapple and French lemon. In the mouth, it is very fresh, balanced and delightfully fun. A complex wine, citric and fresh with medium body that harmonizes quite well as an aperitif or with salads. Also a great accompaniment to seafood including crab, oysters, mussels or clams and all types of fish.
The Winery: (Wine-Searcher) Viña Cousiño-Macul is a Chilean winery based in the Maipo Valley, just south of Santiago. It was founded in 1856 and is one of the only producers founded in this time that is still family-owned. Cousiño-Macul makes a wide range of varietal and blended wines from international grape varieties including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Syrah.
Much of the estate’s production takes place in the Maipo Valley. The original vineyards are located in Macul, a commune east of Santiago. The calcareous soils here are well-suited to Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot production, and Cousiño-Macul’s top Finis Terrae wines are made from grapes sourced from this site. However, Santiago’s urban sprawl limited the size of production and so in 1996 Cousiño-Macul acquired 300 hectares (750 acres) of land in Buin, in the Alto Maipo. Cousiño-Macul’s third vineyard is located in Alhué, a coastal area of the Maipo, and is planted primarily to Carmenere and Syrah.
In total, the estate’s three vineyards are planted to nine different red and white grape varieties, all of which are planted on their own rootstocks. These range from premium offerings to more value-driven wines.
Isidora Goyenechea was born in 1836 to a family of prominent silver miners in northern Chile. She married Luis Cousiño in 1855, with whom she had seven children. Luis died in 1873, leaving Isidora with the challenge of raising their family and becoming steward to a group of companies ranging from coal mining to winemaking. Isidora courageously took the reins of both family and business, becoming one of the leading figures of Chilean society during the second half of the nineteenth century. Isidora’s role in Cousiño-Macul’s history may well be compared to that of the great “champagne widows” like Veuve Clicquot, Louise Pommery and Elisabeth “Lili” Bollinger. Her contributions to philanthropy and the development of the arts have added to her reputation as an outstanding feminine figure in the history of Chile. In an effort to convey Isidora’s elegance and strength, her name and personal crest have been selected as the signature elements for this new Sauvignon Gris label.
Read More about the winery here: http://www.cousinomacul.com/en/
2016 Bodega Chacra Barda, Pinot Noir, Patagonia
The Wine: Winemaker Notes: Pure, minerally and powerful, with concentrated flavors of red plum and dried raspberry, loaded with powerful meaty notes. Sandalwood accents linger on the finish, showing caressing tannins. A perfect pairing for fish, salads and omelettes.
WE: Dusty, jumbled aromas of prune, raisin, sugar beet and leather are disparate. Chunky and flabby in feel, this tastes of oak, tomato and stewed berries. A flat finish fails to bring it around.
The Winery: (From Wine.com) Bodega Chacra is located in the Rio Negro Valley of northern Patagonia, 620 miles south of Buenos Aires, 1,240 miles north of Tierra del Fuego, and roughly equidistant west to east from the Andes Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean. The property’s situation 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, which in turn flows into the Atlantic. The Rio Negro Valley itself is a glacial bed 15.5 miles wide stretching 310 miles along the river’s banks at an elevation of 750 feet above sea level. The valley is irrigated by a network of channels excavated in the late 1820s by British colonists who observed the abundant snow melt flowing from the Andes and created an oasis in the middle of the desert.
The climate is dry, with maximum humidity of thirty percent and 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 and vine diseases. The air is pristine and without pollution, creating tremendous luminosity and purity of sunlight. During the ripening period, in the first quarter of the year, diurnal temperatures vary widely, ranging from an average of 82.4F (28C) during the day and 48.2F (9C) at night. The seasons are precisely defined, with hot summers, cold winters and mild springs and autumns. This consistency of climate enhances consistency of the wine from vintage to vintage.
Read more about here: https://www.bodegachacra.com/
2014 El Enemigo Bonarda, Mendoza
Winemaker Notes: This Bonarda shows a deep violet color with bluish reflections. The nose is intense and complex. Intense aromas of ripe black fruit, blackberries, raspberries, black cherries, chocolate and liquor, with some spicy notes of fresh herbs provided by the Cabernet Franc appear. The taste has a sweet impact with silky tannins and aromas of ripe black and red fruits with notes of licorice and vanilla. Its natural acidity is refreshing. By its concentration and complexity the finish is long and persistent. Enjoy this wine alongside roast lamb, empanadas, and light pastas dishes.
WE: Grapy and floral smelling up front, this Bonarda smells reduced. A tight, rubbery palate is drawing but freshened by a mild shot of acidity. Savory oaky plum and berry flavors finish baked, minty and oaky.
The Winery: “They were about to uproot this entire Bonarda vineyard but fortunately I was able to rescue five hectares. This wonderful vineyard, planted in the parral (high pergola) tranining system, is located in Rivadavia.” – Alejandro Vigil. Made of grapes from the El Mirador, Rivadavia, and Gualtallary vineyards planted in 1950 in soils composed by calcareous, rocks, and sand at elevation 2,145-4,851 feet.
Read more here: http://enemigowines.com/index.html
2015 Montes de Alpha Syrah, Colchagua Valley
The Wine: Winemaker Notes: The Montes Alpha Syrah is an intense ruby-red color. The nose presents floral aromas with tobacco and leather notes. This is a very elegant wine with strong, smooth tannins and tremendous body on the palate. Blend: 90% Syrah, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Viognier
Highly recommended with red meats, stir-fried beef, pork chops, spaghetti with Bolognese sauce.
WE: Deep purple in color, this cool-vintage Syrah excels via smooth cherry, cassis, cedar and charcoal aromas. A full-bodied palate is balanced by firm acidity, while plum, berry, cassis and chocolate flavors finish in harmony. Drink through 2020.
The Winery: With the release of the first Montes Alpha wine back in 1988, Montes became one of the first premium wineries of Chile. Their premise, a clear belief that Chile had an untapped potential as a producer of quality wines, made them a benchmark for other wineries to follow. Its original four partners’ total involvement and the continuous help of the angels that decorate their labels was key to their success. Two decades later, Montes is the fifth most important winery of Chile where Aurelio Montes continues leading the winemaking area with the same passion as the first day. Hard work and total focus on quality has led Montes to be one of the most successful and respected quality-driven wineries in Chile as they continue pioneering and breaking new grounds in wine.
(From Wine Searcher) Montes is a large wine producer in Chile, exporting wines to more than 100 countries around the world. The company produces a wide range of wines from classic Chilean grape varieties including Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Merlot, Syrah and Chardonnay. Purple Angel, a Carmenère-predominant wine from the Colchagua Valley, is Montes’ flagship and one of Chile’s most famous wines. Today, the company’s vineyards span the length of the country, from Aconcagua and Casablanca Valley in the north to Apalta in the south. These are managed with as little irrigation as possible, to strengthen the vines, and green harvesting helps with berry concentration. Vineyards are harvested either late at night or early in the morning to help maintain the freshness of the grapes.
There is a state-of-the-art 2.3-million-liter winery in Apalta, where many of Montes’ top wines are both grown and made. Along with the Purple Angel, the the steepest and highest slopes of the vineyards in Apalta provide grapes for the Folly Syrah, a concentrated and ageworthy red wine. The Alpha M Bordeaux blend is also made here, from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Taita is the newest addition to Montes’ icon wines, and focuses on Cabernet Sauvignon from the estate in Marchigüe.
Montes also offer a range of everyday drinking wines. The Alpha and Classic series focus on varietal wines from Chile’s most famous grape varieties, while the Outer Limits range focuses on wines from more extreme regions.
Read more here: https://www.monteswines.com/en/
VINOTABLES RATINGS FOR THIS TASTING:
View full evaluation here: Summary of Tasting Scores 64
Best Rated: 2014 El Enemigo Bonarda, Mendoza 89- 91 Pts
Best Buy: 2014 El Enemigo Bonarda, Mendoza $18
Bonarda: Variety characteristics and its History in Argentina
The origin of Argentina’s Bonarda Grape had for many years been the subject of much dispute. While many thought it to be the same varietal as Bonarda Piemontese, or even Bonarda Novarese, known as Uva Rara, or “the rare grape”, which is appropriate since Bonarda has pretty well disappeared in Italy. Its actual roots seem to stem from Savoie, France where it was known as Corbeau. It is speculated that at one time it was transported across the Alps to Italy’s Piedmont where, after many generations of cultivation by Italian winemakers and their families, perhaps its French origin was forgotten or its vines had simply been confused for another varietal planted nearby before being transported to the Americas in the late 19th century. It was brought here by immigrants from northern Italy. In Piedmont, home of Barolo and Barbaresco, where there are three different grapes of this name and no-one really knows which one travelled to the Argentine. By the time of its emigration, the vine would have taken on a number of local or regional denominations, which would not be untangled until the technological breakthrough of genetic testing one hundred years later. It may be the same as a Californian grape called Charbono.
Today, despite DNA evidence stating otherwise, Argentina’s Bonarda has steadfastly claimed its name and identity as something distinctly Argentine. But perhaps rightly so. After all, each grape grows differently under different environmental circumstances, and Bonarda’s emergent popularity and critical successes in recent years are easily attributed to the grape’s prosperity in Mendoza’s ideal growing conditions. Upon introduction to Argentina, the Bonarda perfectly acclimated to Mendoza’s climate, soil, altitude and other variables, and its planting soon grew very popular. The vine tended to produce high yield and extremely vigorous plants; favored characteristics for early argentine winemakers more concerned with quantity than quality. Because of this, incorrect pruning and conduction led to the vine overshading the cluster. This would of course negatively affect the properties of the wine by today’s standards, exemplified by being weak in color, light-bodied, herbal and low in alcohol. Nevertheless, it was quantity that mattered and in 1936, Bonarda covered approximately 15,000 acres (about 6,000 hectares), and by 2001 its cultivation had more than doubled to over 30,000 acres (about 12,000 hectares). At present, Bonarda is Argentina’s fourth most widely planted red grape. In 2014 Bonarda registered almost 20,000 hectares in production, mostly in Mendoza.
When Bonarda is handled with more refined viticulture techniques and is elaborated under skillful processes that are commonplace today, it can easily be crafted into high-quality wines. Until recently, the Bonarda variety was used only for bulk production, table wines, or to improve and balance blends. However it is now regarded with much more respect, and its elaboration into very attractive varietals and bi-varietals, such as the Syrah-Bonarda and Bonarda-Malbec, are clear evidence of this.
Bonarda grapes need hot weather, plenty of sunshine over the cluster, low yield and adequate ripening, which are conditions found throughout Argentina’s prime winegrowing regions. However in San Rafael’s Cuadro Benegas district, winemakers have discovered an additional advantage unique to its geography. The district is situated between the Diamante River to the north and the Atuel River to the south, and both are fed by the purest glacial runoff from the snowcapped Andes Mountains. The district’s location between the two rivers has had a remarkable affect on the soil conditions in the area. It has been argued that Cuadro Benegas is the best place to cultivate grapes in the region, and it is repeatedly recommended to produce top wines due to the considerable benefits delivered from its mineral-rich loam. In a recent private study carried out for Algodon Wine Estates by Agronomía San Rafael, laboratory analysis determined that the soil qualities in Cuadro Benegas are optimal for the cultivation of Bonarda and other red varieties. Soil conditions allow for healthy and prosperous root development, and provide the nourishment required for red varieties to complete their growth cycle and biological ripening of the fruit. Moreover, the presence of soil-required elements such as calcium, magnesium, nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, and zinc, as well as pH values are all found in choice levels.
A good Bonarda is known for its intense ruby-red colors up to the violets, and continuing through purples. It is a wine with an intense nose. It is fruity-flavored with red and black fruit and ripe fruits of the forest such as strawberries, blackberries, cassis and cherries. It often presents a spiced aftertaste and aromas of vanilla and tobacco, if oak-aged. It has a pleasant mouthfeel, with a sweet entrance and good intensity. One of the most remarkable characteristics is expressed in the smoothness of its ripe tannins combined with the fruit.
Color: The Bonarda is well-known by its intense ruby-reds which go up to violets, going through purples
Nose: The Bonarda presents an intense nose. Its primary aromas are red and black fruit and ripe fruits of the forest such as strawberries, blackberries, cassis and cherries. It often presents a spiced aftertaste and aromas of vanilla and tobacco if oak-aged.
Mouthfeel: Pleasant and sweet at first, with good intensity. Less tannic than the Cabernet Sauvignon. Its smooth tannins make it velvety and elegant. The oak-aging gives it excellent maturity in addition to the vanilla and toasty aromas.
Maturation: The Bonarda undergoes in-bottle evolution faster than the Malbec or Cabernet Sauvignon. Oak helps it reach an excellent maturation.
Pairing: Grilled meats and vegetables, spiced dishes, pasta, legumes, roast beef, and hard cheeses. In only the past few years the traditional consensus of this variety has completely changed.
The Bonarda has suddenly gained credence as a varietal, particularly in Mendoza where it is highly benefited by weather conditions, soil, altitude and rainfall. Appropriate labor on the vine combined with low yield control, result in exceptional quality. Some wineries have moved ahead by carefully producing the Bonarda utilizing the same industrial processes they customarily follow when elaborating wine from long established “fine” varieties such as the Cabernet Sauvignon or the Malbec. Bonarda is distinctive, it is a wine of great personality, apt for oak-aging, and obligingly willing to grow and grow…..