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Video wine review of Errazuriz Single Vineyard 2007 Carmenere – a red wine from Chile

Errazuriz Single Vineyard 2007 Carmenere

Errazuriz Single Vineyard 2007 Carmenere

If you’ve read any of my wine blog posts, you’ll know that Camenere was one of the first red wines I had ever had. Therefore, it’s always a pleasure to try a Camenere from a producer I haven’t had in the past. During the Wines of Chile blogger event, we had the pleasure of trying 8 wines from Chile while video conferenced in with the wine makers to get their insights on their wines, Chile, and wine in general. I have reviewed several of those wines already, and have a few more coming. You’ll find my thoughts and tasting notes on the Errazuriz Single Vineyard Carmenere in the video review below. Please be kind when watching it, I was in a hotel room after a full day of Oracle training, and pretty wiped out.

Errazuriz Single Vineyard Carmenere 2007 hails from the Aconcagua Valley of Chile, right around San Felipe, north of Santiago. The Aconcagua river flows through the valley, which provides “melt water” for much needed irrigation in the area.  While wine grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere have grown in the valley since the mid 19th Century, there has been renewed interest in the area since the 1990s. Experiements have proven that Aconcagua valley vineyards located closer to the Pacific can provide great grapes, and great wines. Personally, I’m on the look out for some of these wines, especially Syrah which is pointed out in the Wines of Chile brochure that was sent to the bloggers for reference.

Now, it’s no secret that I think wines from Chile offer great value, bringing to us nice, or even fantastic wines, at a great price. I’ve probably written about more Chilean wine on this blog than any other country. At $26 retail, the Errazuriz Single Vineyard Carmenere is not an everyday budget wine for many people. However, I think it’s definitely a wine to give a try, if for no other reason than to see what Carmenere is about, and have a nice frame of reference for other producers.

As the video notes, the first night this wine was definitely a lot more fruit driven and didn’t have some of the characteristics I love about Carmenere. I felt it was lacking the earthy flavors with a black pepper and spice driven backbone that screams STEAK! I found it very “new worldy”. However, I actually REALLY liked it the first night, finding the wine fun and enjoyable. The second night I think it was “done”, with too much oxygen breaking down the wine, as notes of cherry cough syrup were dominant, which were not what I found the first night. I would like very much to get another bottle and see how it opens over time, because I believe I didn’t really experience the full potential of this wine in the situation I had to taste it.

Check out the video, and let me know what you think by leaving a comment below!

Chilean Red Wine Review – Errazuriz Single Vineyard Carmenere from Matthew Scott on Vimeo.

Santa Carolina Reserva de Familia 2007 Carmenere video wine review

Santa Carolina 2007 Reserva de Familia Carmenere from Matthew Scott on Vimeo.

As you may have read in earlier posts like the Los Vascos Reserva review, I was given the pleasure to participate a blogger event put on by the PR folks from the Wines of Chile back in May. Several bloggers participated in a video conference between eight wine makers in Chile and the PR folks, moderated by Michael Green, Wine & Spirits consultant for Gourmet magazine. In this fourth installment of my Wines of Chile video conference writeup, we talk about a great red wine made with the Carmenere grape.

While originally from the Medoc region of Bordeaux, the grape is rarely found there any longer. Instead, most Carmenere comes from Chile, and it’s their 3rd most planted red grape, behind Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. I love carmenere, a typically earthy and peppery red wine that when done right, is great alone or with food. I pair Carmenere with a nice grilled steak, but it’ll go well with a variety of roasted and grilled meats.

I’ve mentioned the value wines I see coming from Chile many times, and believe the Santa Carolina Reserva de Familia 2007 Carmenere is worth every bit of its $15 SRP. Made with 100% carmenere, the wine, considered in their “Gran Reserva” range, is aged at least 10 months in oak barrels, mostly new. Additionally, the wines age in the bottle at least 4 months, which the wine maker believes helps “ensure the evolution of the complex aromas and flavours”.  Adding some punch to this $15 wine is the 91 point rating it received from Wine Enthusiast Magazine in the May 2009 issue. The one thing I was not able to verify is that while they are “Carbon Neutral” with their delivery, I can not confirm if Santa Carolina makes organic wines or not. Unlike the Cono Sur wines, it did not list Organically Farmed on the bottle.

Now, I’ve had Santa Carolina wines before, and my first impression was they were overly oaked and not to my palate. You’ll see in the video that while I may have thought this when I originally tasted the wine, the second tasting the next night completely changed my opinion.  Watch the video, and let me know what you think. Not just of the video, but of Carmenere, wines from Chile, or Santa Carolina Wines.

Dolce Debbie-Cabot Cheese-Great Wine-You

Cabot Cheese

Cabot Cheese

What do you get when you mix one part culinary expertise with one part fine wine, and sprinkle with Cabot Cheese? You get the recipe for the perfect night in.  Join us Saturday, July 18th at 7pm EST as we bring you one of the most exciting social media events involving food and wine ever! Cabot Cheese Coop has asked  Chef Dolce Debbie, Executive Chef of Savory Adventures, LLC, and me, to bring their products to you in  exciting new ways.

Chef Dolce Debbie

Chef Dolce Debbie

Chef Dolce Debbie will be preparing a three course meal, all involving fantastic Cabot products in various forms. I’ll be pairing those culinary delights with fine wines, and discussing them with you via a live uStream video event.  There will be a chat room attached to the video stream, where you can speak not only with other viewers, but with Cabot representatives, as well as the hosts of the show, Debbie and I. To make the experience even more interactive and enjoyable, we’ve provided the menu, complete with the wine pairings, so you can join us on our taste adventure.

We’ll start the evening off with appetizers at 7pm EST.  Debbie has brought some amazing flavors to the table in  the first appetizer, Shortbread with Cabot Hot Habanero Cheese! (for recipe, click here)! Debbie will also be serving Radish with Tzatziki Sauce (recipe here) for an interesting appetizer using fresh Cabot products. Both of these dishes will be paired with Dr Loosen Dr L 2007 Riesling.  The sweet fruit from the wine will balance the heat in the two appetizers perfectly. You’ll be pleased with how well the flavors mesh!

Our next course will be Chicken Saltimbocca  (recipe here) which will be served with a Three Potato Salad (for recipe, click here) along with sauteed spinach.  We will pair this all with a fantastic Pinot Noir from Elizabeth Spencer, which offers just the right mixture of fruit and earthy notes to pair beautifully with the chicken dish. If the Elizabeth Spencer Pinot Noir isn’t available, there are two alternatives that will be discussed during the event.  The first is Bailyana FirePeaks Grand Cuvee Pinot Noir, which is quite similar to the Elizbath Spencer in terms of flavor profile.  The second alternative is Mackenzie Russian River Valley 2007 Pinot Noir, which will pair nicely with the main course.

We’ll top off the evening with home made Apple Pie with Vanilla Bean and Greek Yogurt Sauce, which is served with Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar! (for recipe, click here) We will pair this finale with Cru D’Arche-Pugneau Sauternes, though a more widely available wine such as Apex 2007 Late Harvest Semillion will pair just as nicely.

And if that menu wasn’t enough to excite you, you can win a Cabot apron! Follow @Cabotcoop on twitter, and tell the cow which course sounds best to you, and why. The winner will be randomly selected after the event.

So, pencil us in for Saturday July 18th, and be ready for a good time with wine, and cheese, and Dolce Debbie’s fabulous creations from the kitchen!

A video review of great red wine from Chile – Los Vascos 2006 Reserve

Los Vascos Reserve Chilean red wine from Matthew Scott on Vimeo.

I love it when people drink the same wine across the world to compare notes, and the Wines of Chile blogger event in May 2009 was amazing for that opportunity.  You’ve probably seen my posts on some of the wines we enjoyed that night, the Cono Sur Chilean Pinot Noir for example. Additionally, you probably know I’m a big fan of wine from Chile; I feel Chile offers some great wines at quite reasonable prices. This event, hosted by the PR folks at  Wines of Chile, and moderated by  Michael Green, Wine & Spirits consultant for Gourmet magazine, allowed 8 wine makers to answer  questions for the bloggers, so we could learn a bit about them, and their wines.

As you’ll see in the short video wine review above, I’ve discussed what my tasting notes were during the event, then revisited each wine the next day to see how they stood up. This wine, the Los Vascos Reserve (blend) was actually more enjoyable the next day, benefiting from some time opening. The Los Vascos vineyard has been part of  Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) since 1988, which is a wonderful pedigree to have associated with your wines. Los Vascos website does not seem to have information specifically on the blend we had the opportunity to taste with the bloggers event, but there is some great information on the site for your Chilean wine education.

Los Vascos reserve Chilean red wine

Los Vascos reserve Chilean red wine

During the tasting, the Los Vascos Reserve red had a bouquet of red berries and cherries, with some brambles. The palate was black cherry fruits with very earthy notes.  The wine had a rustic mouth feel, and the finish had some herbs and a dry, chalky component.  The finish was quite long, and I enjoyed it very much.

On the second night, the nose was quite similar to the first night, however it seemed to become a tad more dark and rich. Additionally, there was a chocolate component that showed up on day two that wasn’t present on the first day.  The brambles were still noticeable, but they seemed a bit more integrated and not as prominent as the previous night. The palate of the Los Vascos Reserve became much more fine and silky, and the chalky finish was no where near as noticeable.  The wine opened up nicely, with dark cherry from the Cabernet Sauvignon integrating nicely with the spicey, zesty, earthy Carmenere and the fruit and pepper from the Syrah.

Josh Reynolds from the International Wine Cellars rated this an 89, with the following notes

“Bright ruby. Highly aromatic nose offers a sexy bouquet of ripe cherry, blackcurrant, fresh rose, tobacco and cedar. Suave, supple and sweet, with smooth red and dark berry flavors, gentle tannins and refreshing mineral bite on the close. Very sexy and drinkable now.”

I could continue to write about the flavors this wine, but you can get more from watching the video above. At $20, I will let you know that not only do I find this wine to be one to add to the shopping list, Lenn Thompson agrees with me and thinks the Los Vascos Reserve Chilean Red Wine is a “buy again” kind of wine.

Lets drink some Chilean organic wine – Pinot Noir from Cono Sur

Cono Sur Pinot Noir from Matthew Scott on Vimeo.

Pinot Noir from Chile? You’ve got to be kidding, right? Everyone knows Pinot Noir comes from … well, a lot of places. Which is why it shouldn’t be that much of a surprise that Chile is putting Pinot on the table. While not it’s primary red wine, ranking 5th in hectars planted behind Cabernet Sauvignon (41k hectars), Merlot (13k hectars), Carmenere (7k hectars), and Syrah (3.5k hectars), I assure you that Chile is managing to put out some very enjoyable Pinot Noir, and at very reasonable prices.

I’ve already made the point that Chilean wines are offering great value. They are certainly producing good wines that, at their price point, rival wines from most every other country. I was fortunate enough to participate in an event with other wine bloggers, which allowed us to sit in on a video conference between the New York PR folks from Wines of Chile, and 8 Chilean wine makers in Chile.  Michael Green, Wine & Spirits consultant for Gourmet magazine moderated the panel, asking questions on behalf of the bloggers, so we could learn a bit about the wine makers, and their wines. There was definitely some skepticism on behalf of the bloggers when it came time to try the Pinot Noir.

As you can see from my video, while I found it enjoyable, I mention another Chilean Pinot that I haven’t had the time to write up yet. I find the Morande Reserva offers just a bit more organic, earthy flavors and smoke, allowing the terrior show through. However, there are Pinots of all shapes and sizes, and a Pinot with nice round fruit is not unappreciated.

After the tasting, I corked/capped up the wines, and let them sit out at about 70 degrees until the next evening. Then, one by one I tasted each wine, comparing the 2nd day to the first. In some cases, the wines evolved in a beautiful way. In others, they held the same, or perhaps were better the first time. My video recaps my tasting notes from the first night, when I tweeted them with the #winesofchile hashtag. It also recaps the tasting notes I made from the 2nd night.

Cono Sur Vision Pinot Noir 2008

Cono Sur Vision Pinot Noir 2008

A few things I’d like to note about Cono Sur Vision Pinot Noir before I recap some of the discussion had amongst the bloggers about this wine. First of all, Cono Sur, like Emiliana’s Natura Sauvignon Blanc, has a commitment to the environment. Their wine is certified organic by BCS Oeko Garantie GMBH Germany. They achieved Carbon Neutral status in terms of their delivery, their sustainable farming practices offsetting carbon emissions due to delivering their product.  More and more companies in agricultural arenas are doing this, and it’s likely going to be achieved by more and more wineries as concern for our environment increases.

The Cono Sur Vision Pinot Noir hails from the Colchagua Valley in Chile.  It’s a cooler part of the valley, which offers ideal Pinot Noir growing conditions.  These grapes come from “68 Old Vines” section of the vineyard.  The name hails from the fact the vine were planted in 1968, and thus being over 40 years old gives them the Old Vines designation. The wine is aged 10 months in barrels, 1 month in stainless steel tanks. It has 13.7% ABV (Alcohol by Volume).

There were some detractors, who found the wine flat and a bit pedestrian. However, many of us found it to be quite enjoyable. Some of the bloggers thought that this was a very nice wine. Katie from Gonzogastronomy felt it was a “pleasure to drink a Pinot that wasn’t loaded with overripe fruit.” Robert Dwyer of Wellesley Wine Press said “the Cono Sur Pinot Noir was more varietally correct than almost any US made in the same price range.”  And Jeff from Good Grape said that “the Cono Sur Pinot is nice, too. $15 bucks, CA Pinot cant touch that at price point.”

After viewing this video, let me know what you think.  Are you going to give a Pinot Noir from Chile a shot?  Or are you going to stick with a French or US Pinot Noir? And if you aren’t going to venture out to Chile, why not? Take a moment to leave a comment below. I’d love to hear what you think of Chilean Pinot Noir, the Wines of Chile in general, or anything else you’d like to offer.

Chilean Carmenere from Santa Carolina

Santa Carolina Carmenere Chile

Santa Carolina Carmenere Chile

It’s no secret that I am having a spring love affair. I’m loving wines from Chile and they’re loving me back!  I of course thank Rob Bralow from Wines of Chile for sending me 12 wines to review at my leisure and this wine is one of those wines. Rob made it clear that I was free to discuss whether or not I enjoyed the wines, or not blog about them at all. I appreciate his understanding that there is a chance some of the wines wouldn’t be to my liking. 

Now, I’ve mentioned before that while many people start out with easy drinking fruit forward red wines, I went for socks rockin’ Chilean Carmenere. I love the body, the intensity and the flavors. So, when I was given a bottle of 2007 Santa Carolina Carmenere Reserva, I was excited to dive into it.  I tried this wine three ways, before decanting, with some pasta, and after decanting. This wine is 85% Carmenere and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon according to the website, or 100% Carmenere according to the downloadable data sheet on the same site, and is aged for 9 months in 1 and 2 year old French and American oak barrels.

Right out of the bottle, the color in the glass was a ruby red on the edges, having a deep blood red in the center. The nose was extremely fragrant, and from 6 or so inches away from my nose, I was getting dried cranberry scents wafting up from the glass. Sampling the bouquet direct from the glass showed a little gamey, with dark red fruits covering something underneath that was trying to poke through.  It could have been spice, but I’m not yet sure.

Without decanting, the palate of the Santa Carolina Carmenere was dry and a little oaky, and there was not a lot of fruit forward. There was a good bit of smoke and spice, on the mid-palate and finish, but it was very short lived.   Tasting the wine with pasta, the palate shows a bit better.  There’s some fruit showing now, or the oak is making less of a showing. However, there’s definitely still some wood there, and it’s more like eating berries with a bit of the branches mixed in.

Now, I’m a proponent of decanting most, if not all red wine. Some, though very few in my experience, are fine “Pop and Pour”, where you just open and drink. So, after 40-50 minutes of decanting this red wine, I was curious to see what transformations occured. The nose grew a bit darker in terms of the berries, the gamey scent was gone, but the brambles were definitely showing in the bouquet. It was almost as if someone took a hunk of bark, and used it to mix a berry cocktail. The palate had opened up a little, showing a bit more fruit. Unfortunately this wine was still wielding the oak bat, and beating my mouth up a little. Some sour cherry came into the palate, and the wine had an overall medium mouth feel. If Yoda were talking about this red wine, he’d simply say “The Oak is strong with this one.”

Before I write off this wine, let me say that the oak wasn’t so overbearing it was undrinkable. Additionally, people LOVE oak nuances in their wine, and those people would probably love this wine. Finally, I feel this wine truly calls for some food to tame it’s wild ways. A bit of beef, or even some cheese, would probably be a good start. So, while not a glowing writeup, please remember that everyone’s palate is different, and you may absolutely LOVE this wine! The Santa Carolina Carmenere Reserva 2007 retails for about $11, so why not give it a try and let me know what you think.  Leave some comments.

Oh, and for the record, as I wrote this blog post, I drank an AMAZING Chilean Pinot Noir that I’ll write about soon. And no, it wasn’t a sample from my friend Rob Bralow!

Sobon Estate ReZerve Zinfandel 2006

Sobon Estate ReZerve Zin 2006

Sobon Estate ReZerve Zin 2006

Hopefully you read my blog often, or subscribe to it via RSS.  If that is the case, you probably saw that I’ve had a hankering for Zinfandel wines lately.  You’ll also know that while not bad wines, neither of the wines in that first review really knocked my socks off.  Therefore, it’s time to talk about the next Zin, and see how my socks end up after it’s reviewed.

Que Syrah – Taft Street 2006

Taft Street Syrah

Taft Street Syrah

Since I wasn’t crazy about either of the Syrah wines I had for Wine Blogging Wednesday #55, I decided to open a third. I was hopeful to end the night on a positive note, so I opened up a Dry Creek Valley wine, since I would soon be there. The Taft Street Syrah 2006,  about $20 retail, got the call and I chose to save the Longboard for my return from California. The question is, did I pick the right wine to end the night?