Don’t be April Fooled – Secreto Sauvignon Blanc is serious

With me, there is no joking when it comes to wine, so don’t look for the punch line in this wine blog post. All too often people select things based on their looks.  People select their football picks based on who has the better uniform, or which quarterback looks cuter. Some select houses based on the looks of the yard or the view from the porch. And I am sure some of you select your wines based on the bottles and labels. Well, here’s one wine you MIGHT pass over based on it’s label, and I’m here to make sure you don’t. When I received this bottle of wine, it came with the idea of playing a joke on my friends and readers. Present them with a “goofy looking” bottle of wine (my words, not the words of the person giving me the wine), and surprise them with a value driven, quality wine instead.  While the label on the Secreto 2008 sauvignon blanc is artistic and almost whimsical, the wine inside is nothing but serious.

The labels of the Secreto line of wines carry artistic drawings by Chilean artist Catalina Abbot, with the purpose of interpreting the secrets of the wine. While I only have the sauvignon blanc, you can see the label of the Secreto Viognier in the WBW55 post by twitter friend @Sonadora. I tried to find information about the Viu Manent winery online, and came up a tad short. While the winery doesn’t seem to have it’s own website, I found some information from a distributor or retailor’s site regarding the 2006 offerings. The vineyard was started in the mid-19th century with French imports, and was acquired in 1966 by  Bodegas Viu.  There are approximately 260 hectares (642 acres) of vineyards, with this Sauvignon Blanc coming from their Hacienda Cunaco vineyards in the Casablanca Valley of Chile.

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The Secreto line of wines are made with 85% of the primary grape, with the other 15% the “Secret” to the wine. With a pale yellow color, almost like straw, the Secreto sauv blanc is 13.5% Alcohol by Volume. The bouquet seemed to offer candied citrus, and maybe some banana. I found perhaps the slightest floral notes at first, but those blew off after a few minutes. The bouquet was interesting, and it definitely enticed me to drink if the label didn’t. At first I was a bit underwhelmed by the wine, with some mellon and some grapefruit on the palate. The acid was definitely sharp, and really prominent on the finish. It was a tad unbalanced to me, where I felt the fruit was muted and not bright, and the acid took center stage.  I thought that perhaps the wine needed some food, and tried it with some cheese. The fat definitely cut the acid a bit, but really didn’t do much for the fruit.  We had a rotisserie chicken for dinner, and while the wine paired well with it, I didn’t think the food did the wine justice. While I ate dinner and drank some more of the wine, I noticed some herbaceous notes coming through on the wine.

Robin and I both agreed that we enjoyed the wine, and would definitely drink it again.  However, we also agreed that this isn’t a wine we could serve at a party, because we felt the acid would overwhelm people after the 3rd glass.  At $14 suggested retail, I think you are getting a good value for a good wine, especially if you prefer a bit more herbal than fruity, and love the acid. I won’t say there aren’t other sauvignon blancs, even from Chile, that I would grab first at this price point, because there are. But I certainly would not shy away from this wine if it was an option.

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We were about the put the bottle in our recycle bin when I decided to look at the back of the bottle. It was then that I felt this wine went from a “ok wine” to a “pretty good wine”. Often wines try to include some tasting notes on the bottles, to try and help the consumer select the perfect bottle. More often than not, I avoid these wines, or disregard the notes, because everyone’s palate is different, and the wine makers goals for flavors may not be what my tastes are.  However, the Viu Manent Secreto Sauvignon Blanc’s back label really offers truth in labeling and advertsiging.

“The Secret kept by our Sauvignon Blanc is one of soil, balance, and harmony.  Art and terroir have come together to create a Sauvignon Blanc which is fresh and green with a bright, racy acidity.”

WOW! Talk about hitting the nail on the head. That is EXACTLY what is in this bottle of wine. Open it up and you’ll find fresh, green notes with a cutting acidity that, while it may outbalance the fruit, is well placed and appreciated. I wish I had some fresh seafood, perhaps shrimp or oysters, to pair with this wine.  I’ll have to find another bottle, as this one was a sample from the PR folks from the Wines of Chile, and I haven’t seen it locally.  Once I find it, I’ll have some friends over, marvel at the whimsical label, try to interpret what secret the art is depicting, and have a good time with wine.