Chile, Chilean Wine, Sample, Sauvignon Blanc, Summer of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc, Viña Morandé, Wine

Summer of Chilean SB: Viña Morandé Gran Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2020

At long last, our Summer of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc is drawing to a close. It has been a long, hot summer here in NorCal, but we persevered with the help of these crisp, refreshing white wines. It’s been fun reaching into the wine chiller and randomly grabbing one of the bottles. Sadly, this time when we opened the door, there was only one Chilean Sauvignon Blanc left. The final wine for this series is the Viña Morandé Gran Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2020.

The following wine was provided as a media sample for review. All reviews, descriptions, and opinions are our own. We received no additional compensation.

Pablo Morandé is a visionary, and reputed to be the first to plant grapes in the Casablanca Valley in the 1980s. He founded Viña Morandé in 1996 to further his vision for the future, and showcase the varied and diverse terroirs of Chile. Among other innovations, Viña Morandé launched a high-density planting program, with up to 10,000 vines per hectare. High-density planting allows growers to take better advantage of soil moisture and solar energy. In addition, Viña Morandé utilizes concrete eggs for fermentation, and large, oak foudres for aging. The result is high-quality wines that highlight the diversity of the Chilean terroirs.

With that, on the Autumnal Equinox marking the end of summer, we introduce the final wine in our Summer of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc.

Viña Morandé Gran Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2020

Pale straw color. Nose of citrus and tropical fruit. On the palate, lemon zest, quince, pineapple, mango, white grapefruit, and notes of straw and hay. Light body with tart acidity and a medium finish.

We hope you have enjoyed following along on the journey through our Summer of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc. If you have the chance to try this wine, or any of the others in this series, please leave a comment to let us know how you liked them.

Cheers!

  • By Kent Reynolds and Robyn Raphael-Reynolds
  • Photos by Robyn Raphael-Reynolds
Casas del Bosque, Chile, Chilean Wine, Sample, Sauvignon Blanc, Summer of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc, Wine

Summer of Chilean SB: Casas del Bosque La Cantera Sauvignon Blanc 2020

At long last, we are moving out of 100°+ temperatures, and can see autumn on the horizon. There’s even rain in the forecast for today! But we still have a few more days of summer, so our journey continues! The penultimate wine in our Summer of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc is the Casas del Bosque La Cantera Sauvignon Blanc 2020.

The following wine was provided as a media sample for review. All reviews, descriptions, and opinions are our own. We received no additional compensation.

Casas del Bosque is located in Las Dichas, on the extreme west of the Casablanca Valley. The winery was founded in 1993 by the Cúneo family. The estate takes it name from the ancient pine forests, olive trees, and small adobe houses in the area. Casas del Bosque roughly translates to “Forest Houses.”

Casas del Bosque has 89 hectares under vine, planted with cool climate varieties, including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Malbec and Cabernet Franc. They also source Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere from vineyards in Maipo, Colchagua and Cachapoal.

In addition to their passion for crafting fine wines, Casas del Bosque also promotes the region through wine tourism. They offer a wide range of tasting and tour options, including a harvest experience and bicycle tours, and also operate three restaurants, ranging from vineyard-centric casual, to gastronomic fine cuisine.

The western location of the vineyards are the coolest in the Casablanca Valley, which help promote excellent conditions for crisp Sauvignon Blanc wines. The name, La Cantera, is derived from an old granite quarry and the red clay soils in the area. The vines are planted in these rich soils, providing fresh minerality and structure.

Casas del Bosque La Cantera Sauvignon Blanc 2020

Soft golden color. Aromas of pineapple, citrus, and straw. On the palate, lemon lime, pineapple, quince, fresh cut grass, and a healthy dose of cat pee. The wine is light bodied, with vibrant acidity, yet a surprisingly soft, smooth mouthfeel. Long, citrus and tropical fruit finish. Perfect pairing with fish tacos.

Another fantastic Chilean Sauvignon Blanc to enjoy the waning days of summer. We hope you have the opportunity to try this wine. If you do, please let us know how you liked it by leaving a comment.

Cheers!

  • By Kent Reynolds and Robyn Raphael-Reynolds
  • Photos by Robyn Raphael-Reynolds
Chile, Chilean Wine, Matetic Vineyards, Sample, Sauvignon Blanc, Summer of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc, Wine

Summer of Chilean SB: Matetic Vineyards EQ Coastal Sauvignon Blanc 2020

We’ve made it past Labor Day Weekend in the United States, the unofficial end of summer. Yet it seems Mother Nature didn’t get the memo this year! We’ve just survived a record-setting heatwave in Northern California, with temperatures in the 110° to 115° range this past week. Thank goodness for dry, crisp, refreshing white wines. Remember, summer doesn’t actually end until September 22! As we continue our Summer of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc, we cracked and enjoyed the Matetic Vineyards EQ Coastal Sauvignon Blanc 2020.

The following wine was provided as a media sample for review. All reviews, descriptions, and opinions are our own. We received no additional compensation.

Matetic Vineyards has it roots in Eastern Europe. The patriarch of the family business, Jorge Matetic-Celtinja emigrated to Chile in 1892, from a town in the Austro-Hungarian Empire that is now Rijeka, Croatia. He settled near the southern tip of Chile, in Punta Arenas. Fast-forward more than 100 years to 1999, when Jorge’s descendants planted vines in the Rosario Valley, in Casablanca, becoming pioneers in cool-climate viticulture in the region. The EQ line of wines was born with the first harvest in 2001. Grape varieties in that year included Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah.

The Matetic family wasted no time in embracing organic and biodynamic farming practices, beginning that transition the very next year, in 2002. Certification was achieved in 2004.

The winery itself opened in 2003 and features a beautiful blend of modern architecture with the use of natural wood and stone from the nearby region. Environmentally friendly with gravity flow, the winery continues the sustainable tradition. Matetic Vineyards also built a boutique hotel, La Casona, which opened in 2004, and ushered in a commitment to wine tourism in the area.

The vineyards for this Sauvignon Blanc are planted just 3 ½ miles from the coast, in granite-rich soils. Cool mornings and sunny afternoons contribute to ideal growing conditions, resulting in fresh, crisp wines. As always, the proof is in the bottle!

Matetic Vineyards EQ Coastal Sauvignon Blanc 2020

Golden straw color. The nose is pineapple and citrus. On the palate, flavors of pineapple, lemon, lime, and quince, with notes of mango, passion fruit, and grass. Light body with zesty acidity, yet quite easy drinking. Great with seafood and also nice sipping on its own.

The Matetic Vineyards EQ Coastal Sauvignon Blanc 2020 is a fantastic representation of the unique terroir that Chile has to offer. We thoroughly enjoyed this wine, and are confident that you will, too! If you try it, please let us know in the comments what you think of it.

Cheers!

  • By Kent Reynolds and Robyn Raphael-Reynolds
  • Photos by Robyn Raphael-Reynolds
Chile, Chilean Wine, Sample, Sauvignon Blanc, Summer of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc, Viña Koyle, Wine

Summer of Chilean SB: Viña Koyle Costa La Flor Sauvignon Blanc 2021

Our Summer of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc rolls on! We may never grow tired of these tasty, racy wines, and are ever grateful for them on what has been a summer for the record books with more than 35 days over 100°! Next up on our journey is the Viña Koyle Costa La Flor Sauvignon Blanc 2021.

The following wine was provided as a media sample for review. All reviews, descriptions, and opinions are our own. We received no additional compensation.

The people at Koyle Family Vineyards sound like our kind of people. Their tag-line on their home page is “A Great Family – Wine Runs Through our Veins”. Koyle Family Vineyards history spans six generations, beginning with Don Francisco Undurraga Vicuña in 1885. It was he who imported vines from France and Germany and plant them in Chile. The original winery was named Viña Undurraga, in 1903, became the first Chilean winery to export wines to the United States.

The Koyle Family Vineyards name was born in 2006, after Alfonso Undurraga and his son Cristóbal began planting grapes on the rocky slopes of the Andes Mountains, in Alto Colchagua. Three years later, in 2009, Koyle Family Vineyards began the process of becoming biodynamic and working with the International Demeter Biodynamic Federation. Their mission is to create wines that respect their origin and highlight the terroir of the region.

The Viña Koyle Costa La Flor Sauvignon Blanc 2021 is an exceptional wine that certainly expresses the character of the Chilean region. The grapes are from vineyards located just five miles from the sea, in granite soils rich in quartz and clay. The wine is sur-lie aged for four months to soften the natural, sharp acidity.  

Viña Koyle Costa La Flor Sauvignon Blanc 2021

Golden straw color. On the nose, citrus, tropical fruit, and cat pee. On the palate, flavors of big notes of quince, with lemon zest, pineapple, pear, white peach, grass, and minerals. Dry with tart acidity and a medium finish.

If you like a zesty, racy, puckery Sauvignon Blanc, this is the wine for you! It was super refreshing as we tried to cool down from another scorcher. If you try it, please let us know what you think by leaving a comment.

Cheers!

  • By Kent Reynolds and Robyn Raphael-Reynolds
  • Photos by Robyn Raphael-Reynolds
Chile, Chilean Wine, Sample, Sauvignon Blanc, Summer of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc, Viña Garcés Silva, Wine

Summer of Chilean SB: Viña Garcés Silva Amayna Sauvignon Blanc 2020

What a summer it has been! We can hardly believe it’s almost September and we still have several Chilean Sauvignon Blancs to share with you. Next up in our Summer of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc is the Viña Garcés Silva Amayna Sauvignon Blanc 2020.

The following wine was provided as a media sample for review. All reviews, descriptions, and opinions are our own. We received no additional compensation.

The Amayna Sauvignon Blanc is rather distinctive. In addition to being two years old, middle-aged by Sauvignon Blanc standards, the Amayna Sauvignon Blanc was sur-lie aged for six months, leading to a fuller expression than most Sauvignon Blanc wines, while still being crisp and refreshing.

Viña Garcés Silva is a multi-generational venture, with a history of a variety of agricultural products. In 1999, the family decided to enter the wine industry and planted Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir grapes on their ocean-view land. They started wine production in 2002; the first winery in Chile’s Leyda Valley.

The Garcés Silva family has a vision to not only crafting high quality wines, they are also committed to social and environmental responsibility. They strive to provide a work environment that values and enhances their staff members’ quality of life. In addition, they prioritize sustainable farming and wine making to maintain environmental balance.

The list of awards on their website is impressive, and created a sense of anticipation as we twisted the cap on the wine bottle. One sip confirmed the awards are well deserved!

Viña Garcés Silva Amayna Sauvignon Blanc 2020

Pale straw color. The nose is bursting with tropical fruit and citrus. On the palate, flavors of ripe pineapple, mango, quince, lemon lime, and notes of Bartlett pear. Light body with racy acidity. A delightful refresher on a hot summer evening.

We hope you have the opportunity to try this tasty Chilean Sauvignon Blanc. If you do, we are sure you will enjoy it as much as we did.

Cheers!

  • By Kent Reynolds and Robyn Raphael-Reynolds
  • Photos by Robyn Raphael-Reynolds
Chilean Wine, Montes, Sample, Sauvignon Blanc, Summer of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc, Wine

Summer of Chilean SB: Montes Wines Limited Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2021

Montes Wines is one of the most recognizable names in Chilean wine production. Known for their stunning, bold red wines like Montes Alpha M and the Purple Angel, we were happy to learn they produce equally impressive white wines, too. As we continued our Summer of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc, the Montes Wines Limited Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2021 was the next to be drawn from our cellar.

The following wine was provided as a media sample for review. All reviews, descriptions, and opinions are our own. We received no additional compensation.

We feel very fortunate to have received the samples of crisp refreshing Chilean Sauvignon Blanc wines, just in time for what has proven to be a particularly toasty summer. Here in NorCal in the greater Sacramento area, we have experienced a run of nearly 3 weeks of temperatures over 100°, many 105° or more! So, we have really been enjoying these wines to help cool off and relax in the evenings.

Montes Wines was established in 1987 by Aurelio Montes and Douglas Murray, who had a vision of elevating Chilean wines on the world stage by producing wines far superior to what was available from Chile at the time. They brought in two more partners, Alfredo Vidaurre and Pedro Grand, the next year. Their 1987 vintage Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon was the first of their wines to gain notoriety and worldwide acclaim. People started to take notice of Chile as a serious wine producing country.

Montes Wines are widely available at a variety of retailers and at various price points. We’ve enjoyed a number of their red wines in the past, but the Limited Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2021 was our first experience with one of their white wines. While we were sure it would be good, given the producer’s reputation for crafting fine wines, we were not expecting to be as blown away as we were!

Montes Limited Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2021

Wow! This is good! We know Montes reds, but this is our first white. Pale straw color. Initial aromas of pineapple and cat pee (in a good way), followed by quince. On the palate, pineapple, white grapefruit, pear, lemon zest, and citrus, with saline and minerals. Light body with well balanced acidity and a crisp, clean finish.

This is a truly stunning wine, and we hope you have an opportunity to try some. If you enjoy and appreciate a finely made Sauvignon Blanc, you will not be disappointed!

Cheers!

  • By Kent Reynolds and Robyn Raphael-Reynolds
  • Photos by Robyn Rahael-Reynolds
Chile, Chilean Wine, Limari Valley, Sauvignon Blanc, Summer of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc, Wine

Summer of Chilean SB: Viña Tabalí Talinay Sauvignon Blanc 2021

To kick off our Summer of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc, we started with a completely random choice. I closed my eyes, reached into the wine fridge, and grabbed one of the eight sample bottles we had received. It happened to be the Viña Tabalí Talinay Sauvignon Blanc 2021, and it turned out to be a great way to start. The day was 103°F so a cold, crisp white was perfect.

The following wines were provided as media samples for review. All reviews, descriptions, and opinions are our own. We received no additional compensation.

Viña Tabalí was founded in 2002 by Guillermo Luksic, in the Limarí Valley. His goal was, and is, to create high quality wines that reveal the terroir of the area, and transport those tasting the wines to the very vineyards where they were produced. Viña Tabalí quickly achieved international recognition and acclaim, and established a reputation for quality and innovation. A unique winery, Viña Tabalí has vineyards ranging from 12 kilometers from the ocean to mountain vineyards as high as 1,600 meters – the only winery in the region with vines from ocean to mountains in the same valley.

The Viña Tabalí Talinay line includes Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and our featured wine, Sauvignon Blanc. The vineyards for these wines are on the coastal side of the valley, with cooler temperatures which helps contribute to crisp, refreshing wines. What a treat this was, and a fantastic way to start what looks to be a long, hot, tasty summer!

Viña Tabalí Talinay Sauvignon Blanc 2021

Pale straw color. The nose is tropical fruit and citrus. On the palate, peach, pineapple, lemon lime, grapefruit, saline, and minerals. Light body with well-balanced acidity and a clean, fresh finish. A truly delightful wine, paired well with baked Sea Bream, and equally nice sipping on its own.

We hope you have the opportunity to try this delightful Chilean Sauvignon Blanc. If you do, let us know in the comments, and tell us how you liked it.

Stay tuned for more of our Summer of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc in the coming weeks!

Cheers!

  • By Kent Reynolds and Robyn Raphael-Reynolds
Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Napa Valley, Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah, Samples, Sauvignon Blanc, St. Helena, Titus, Titus Vineyards, Wine, Zinfandel

A Visit to Titus Vineyards

The weather forecast was not promising; rain showers and mid-60’s. We had been invited to a private tasting and lunch, with vineyard and winery tour, at Titus Vineyards, hosted by Eric Titus, co-owner of this multi-generational family estate. Undeterred by the forecast, we packed our jackets and raincoats in the car and headed off the winery, located off Silverado Trail, in St. Helena. The sun was shining at home, but we expected to hit rain any minute along the way. Thankfully, they got it wrong. No rain on the drive, and when we arrived it was comfortable in the low 70’s.

This trip was offered as a complimentary media event. All reviews, descriptions, and opinions are our own. We received no additional compensation.

It turned out to be a spectacular day; mid-70’s with puffy, cotton ball clouds. It had rained heavily the previous day, so the vineyard tour was a no-go, but that did not dampen the spirit and enthusiasm of all in attendance. Eric himself greeted us on the covered patio and quickly offered us a tasting of the just-released 2021 Sauvignon Blanc. As we sipped, Eric gave us some of the history of the Titus family and the vineyards.

Titus Vineyards is a 50-acre property, currently planted to 40 acres of vineyards. The land has been in the Titus family since the late 1960’s, though its history goes back much further, with an impressive roster of notable landowners, including General Mariano Vallejo, Dr. Edward Bale, and Charles Krug. When the Titus family acquired the property, the vineyards consisted of a wide range of grape varieties: Semillon, Zinfandel, Carignan, Berger, Pinot Noir, and even Concord. The Titus family replanted and now grows primarily Bordeaux varieties; Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah, and Sauvignon Blanc, while retaining some Zinfandel. To round out the Bordeaux noble grape portfolio, they source Malbec and Merlot from nearby vineyards.

Early in the life of Titus Vineyards, the family sold their grapes to nearby wineries. You may have heard of a few: Charles Krug, Beaulieu Vineyards, Cuvaison. Each of these famous wineries have produced their fine wines using Titus Vineyards fruit. Today, Titus Vineyards uses their grapes to craft distinctive Napa Valley wines in a balanced, Old-World style.

We found Eric Titus to be friendly, engaging, and generous. He and his brother, Phillip, grew up working (and playing) on the family farm. Philip pursued viticulture early on, studying at U.C. Davis and traveling to Bordeaux and Burgundy before starting his career in the Napa Valley. Eric, on the other hand, went a different direction, earning a doctorate degree in Biology, and working in marine science for a number of years. In 1997, Eric came to help with the harvest at the family farm. The business was growing, and in 2002, made the decision to return to Titus Vineyards full time, and is now General Manager and Vineyard Operations Manager.

Photo credit: https://www.titusvineyards.com/

In 2014, Titus Vineyards broke ground on their new, state-of-the-art winery facility. Elevated on a hill near the east end of the property, the striking edifice is a beautiful, modern merging of cutting-edge viticultural technology and art. Eric escorted us on a tour of the facility, pointing out the architectural design and striking view from the crush pad, though the fermentation room and tasting room, to the vineyards. (The photo does not do it justice!)

After the tour, we enjoyed a seated tasting and lunch, paired with the delicious wines from Titus Vineyards. With Eric as our guide, this was a most informative and educational tasting. The lunch, catered by Chef Michelle Mutrux, was divine! We provide here some drool-worthy photos, along with tasting notes on the wines.

Tasting notes:

Pre-meal, during the tour:

2021 Sauvignon Blanc

Blended with just a touch (5%) of Viognier, the wine is a pale straw color with aromas of tree fruit and stone fruit. On the palate, there is tropical fruit and citrus, with soft, floral, aromatic notes. Dry and crisp, with a pleasing finish. (SRP: $36)

2019 Malbec

Deep garnet color with a ruby rim. Bold black and red fruit on the nose with hints of clove. A swirl in the bowl stains the glass due to its inky color. On the palate, black cherry, ripe raspberry, smoke, coffee, and black pepper. Full bodied, with firm, mouth-drying tannins, and a long finish. (SRP: $55)

Seated tasting and lunch:

2019 Merlot

Fruit sourced from the Sugarloaf Ridge vineyard. Inky purple color with blueberry and black cherry on the nose. Flavors on the palate include bright red cherry, blueberry, blackberry, clove, and black pepper. Well balanced with soft tannins, bright acidity, and a long finish. (SRP: $52)

2019 Cabernet Franc

Deep garnet color with ruby rim. On the nose, black cherry, Marionberry, and just a whiff of bell pepper. The palate is blueberry, black cherry, blackberry, bell pepper/jalapeño, and baking spice. Full bodied with vibrant, bright acidity and firm, yet approachable tannins and a long finish. (This was our favorite of the tasting!) (SRP: $60)

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon

Deep, opaque purple with a garnet rim. This has the classic Cabernet Sauvignon aromas; blackberry, black cherry, cassis, and smoke. On the palate, the fruit is bright and balanced, and includes black cherry, blackberry, raspberry, cassis, and hints of dried herbs, with a bit of bell pepper, vanilla, tobacco, and black pepper on the finish. Smooth tannins with lively acidity. (SRP: $65)

2019 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Inky, almost black in color. On the nose, bright red fruit, cherry, blackberry, and anise. The wine hits the palate with a creamy, soft feel, like cherry cream, with black currant, blackberry, coffee, and mocha notes. Tannins a soft and smooth, balanced with medium acidity, leading to a long, spicy finish. (SRP: $115)

2018 Lot 1 Blend

A unique and fun blend of 45% Petite Sirah, 28% Malbec, 22% Petit Verdot, and 5% Zinfandel to soften and polish. Dark purple color with a garnet rim. Aromas of boysenberry, blackberry, and blueberry greet the nose. On the palate, this is a bid, bold wine with black fruit flavors, blackberry, black cherry, and currant, with chocolate and baking spice notes. Full body, with big tannins and bright acidity. (SRP: $89)

As we mentioned, Eric is quite generous, and as we enjoyed the lunch, conversation, and company, he brought out a couple of bonus bottles; the 2020 Zinfandel and the 2014 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. By this point, we were entering food coma mode, so tasting notes are sparse. Suffice it to say the Zinfandel was quite exquisite, and the 2014 Reserve Cab paired perfectly with the last few bites of the short rib.

We are grateful to have been invited to this one-of-a-kind event. We enjoyed meeting Eric Titus and learning more about Titus Vineyards. Though we’d heard of Titus Vineyards before, this was our first visit and tasting. Based on what we experienced, Titus Vineyards will be on our “return to in Napa” list. If you haven’t visited Titus Vineyards, you should make a point of doing so soon.

Cheers!

  • By Kent Reynolds and Robyn Raphael-Reynolds
  • Photos by Kent Reynolds and Robyn Raphael-Reynolds, except where noted.
Carmenere, Chile, Chilean Wine, Sample, Wine

An Accidental Carménère

A few weeks ago, we were fortunate enough to be offered some samples of Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon. Six of them, to be precise, from two major Chilean regions, Colchagua Valley and Maipo Valley, for a head-to-head Chilean Cabernet throwdown! (Read all about it here.) As we awaited the shipment, we received an email from the PR Rep coordinating the samples. Seems there was a mix up at one of the wineries, and rather shipping their Cabernet Sauvignon, they sent their Carménère, and it ended up in the sample shipment of Cabernets. It was from the same producer as the Cabernet, but clearly not a contender for the highly anticipated Chilean Cabernet Competition. Apologies were followed with assurances that the missing Cabernet was on its way to the warehouse and would be shipped to us immediately upon arrival. Meanwhile, the remaining five Cabernets would just have to rest a little longer in the cellar before their fierce faceoff.

But what of the lonely Carménère? This poor bottle had done nothing wrong! It was the victim of a warehouse kerfuffle, and nothing more. Should it be returned to its warehouse purgatory, not knowing how long it might be before someone deliberately orders it? Thankfully, no. Our friendly PR Rep confirmed that as consolation for the mix up, is that we can keep and enjoy the bonus, accidental Carménère.

The following wine was provided as an accidental media sample. All reviews, descriptions, and opinions are our own. We received no additional compensation.

To those who may be unfamiliar, Carménère is a red Bordeaux grape. It is often considered the overlooked sixth Bordeaux grape, less known that the powerhouse Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes. Typically relegated to a very minor blending role in Bordeaux wines, Carménère has found a recent spotlight in Chile, where winemakers are crafting delicious, 100% varietal wines. If you are unfamiliar with Carménère, you really should get acquainted. Carménère wines are dark, rich and complex, bursting with fruit and spice. Plus, as with most Chilean wines, Carménère is also surprisingly affordable!

Our Accidental Carménère was the TerraNoble Carménère Gran Reserva 2018, from the Maule Valley. TerraNoble was established in 1993, under the leadership of Jorge Elgueta, with the mission of producing world class Merlot wines. However, the following year, it was discovered that what was believed to be Chilean Merlot was actually Carménère. Seems the leaves and clusters of the two varieties are very similar in size and shape, so the grape had been misidentified for decades. The TerraNoble team pivoted and has built a strong reputation for producing high quality, award winning Carménère wines. They are proud stewards of the land and soils, crafting wines that showcase the unique terroir of the region.

What a happy accident this turned out to be! When we opened the bottle, we were greeted with an exquisite wine, and an excellent pairing with Garlic and Rosemary Grilled Lamb Chops with Mediterranean Salad.

Deep ruby color with a garnet rim. On the nose, smoky raspberry, cherry, blueberry, and fresh oak. On the palate, juicy raspberry, red cherry, blackberry, and Planck pepper, with tobacco, vanilla, jalapeño, and vegetal notes of dried herbs. Medium-plus body with medium tannins and bright acidity. Long, spicy finish of red fruit and black pepper.

Nobody hopes for an accident. Yet we are happy to be the beneficiaries of this one. Our hope is that you have the opportunity to try a TerraNoble Carménère soon. You’ll be glad you did.

Cheers!

  • By Kent Reynolds and Robyn Raphael-Reynolds
Cabernet Sauvignon, Chilean Wine, Colchagua Valley, Maipo Valley, Samples, Wine, Wine Blog

Chilean Cabernet Challenge – Colchagua vs Maipo

Chile has been building quite a reputation for quality wines in recent years, with Cabernet Sauvignon leading the charge. Cabernet Sauvignon is the leading grape grown in the country, accounting for more than 20% of all vineyards. Though Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards are planted many parts of the country, some 97% of vines are located in the Central Valley subregions of O’Higgins, Maule, and the Metropolitan Region. Within these large subregions, we discover smaller valleys and denominaciónes de origen (DOs) where the differences in soil and climate produce wines with distinct terroir.

We recently were honored to be included in a sampling of six Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon wines, with the focus on two of these DOs: Colchagua Valley and Maipo Valley. As suggested by our host, we approached this as a head-to-head challenge, akin to a championship sporting event – Team Colchagua Valley vs. Team Maipo Valley. Which team would prevail?

Image Credit: Creative Palate Communications

The following wines were provided as media samples for review. All reviews, descriptions, and opinions are our own. We received no additional compensation.

DO Colchagua Valley is situated in the O’Higgins subregion, and accounts for about two-thirds of the Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards there. Located about 80 miles south of Santiago, the valley is carved from the Tinguinirica River, which flows from a volcanic crater. Elevations in this region range from approximately 2,000 feet at the volcano’s crater, to 360 feet at the coast. Soils range from gravelly, alluvial terraces to rich, clay deposits downriver. As one would imagine, temperatures vary also; cooler at high elevations, and warming toward the coast. These soil and climate conditions produce a range of profiles in the Cabernet Sauvignon wines.

Image Credit: Creative Palate Communications

DO Maipo Valley is in the Metropolitan subregion, and is one of the better-known Chilean wine regions, with a long history of production. The Maipo River begins at the Maipo volcano. As with Colchagua, there are dramatic elevation variations, from 2,500 feet at the volcano, to 600 feet near the coast. There are four distinct alluvial terraces in the Maipo Valley with different soil types, from thick gravel and sand to clay and loose, rocky soils. Again, temperature variations at different altitudes combine with the various soils to create unique terroirs, influencing the resulting wines.

Image Credit: Creative Palate Communications

Now that you know a bit about the regions, let’s get to the wines!

Colchagua Valley

Maquis Gran Reserva 2018

Brick red color. Cherry and raspberry on the nose. The palate is bright cherry, with raspberry, licorice, baking spice, and black pepper. Medium body, edgy tannins, and vibrant acidity. Long, spicy finish.

A very tasty wine, but neither of us would not have called Cab Sauv in blind tasting. (SRP $20)

Los Vascos Cromas Gran Reserva 2018

Deep ruby color in the glass. Nose of blackberry, black cherry, and plum. On the palate there are flavors of ripe blackberry, Marionberry, black currant, black cherry, leather, and a hint of chocolate. Full body with soft, luxurious tannins and nicely balanced acidity. Medium finish of soft black fruit. (SRP: $22)

TerraNoble Gran Reserva 2018

Ruby color with a garnet rim. The nose is quite lively with a bouquet of violet, raspberry, cherry, and spice. On the palate, equally delightful and incredibly smooth, with bright red cherry, raspberry, red currant, blueberry, violet, with hints of tobacco, chocolate, and baking spice. Medium body with satin soft tannins and acidity. Medium red fruit finish. (SRP $20)

Maipo Valley

Echeverria Limited Edition 2016

Garnet color. On the nose, blackberry, cherry, and cassis. Flavors of ripe raspberry, blackberry, cassis, and fig, with soft spice notes and a hint of milk chocolate. Medium plus body, with soft, almost milky tannins and medium acidity. Medium finish of spicy red fruit. (SRP $25)

Viña Aquitania Lázuli 2017

Brick red color fading to garnet at the rim. Aromas of red cherry, raspberry, and blackberry on the nose. These carry onto the palate, with the addition of plum, cassis, clove, and white pepper, with hints of chocolate. Medium body with velvety soft, milky tannins, and bright acidity. Long finish of black fruit and baking spice. (SRP $45)

Miguel Torres Reserva Especial Cordellera 2018

Dark garnet black color. The nose bursts with red cherry, raspberry, licorice, and spice. On the palate, black fruit; blackberry, black cherry, black plum, with ripe wild blueberry, cedar, tobacco, clove, and pepper, with fig, licorice, and raisin emerging on the finish. This wine continues to evolve the longer you ponder it. Full body with ultra-soft tannins, and bright acidity, leading to a long finish. (SRP $20)

This was a fun and interesting competition, with some rather surprising results. We knew going in that it was possible it could be a split decision, with one of us favoring Colchagua Valley and the other preferring Maipo Valley. We also took it a step further, with each of us selecting an MVP – our personal favorite wine from the tasting.

Though we enjoyed every wine from both regions – we can heartily recommend all of them – after much consideration and contemplation, our unanimous conclusion was that the winner, by a very slight margin, was…

The Colchagua Valley!

While the wines from Maipo Valley definitely win the prize for incredibly soft tannins and full, round mouthfeel, we felt the Colchagua Valley wines had a bit more interest and character.

The real surprise, however, was the individual MVP Award. There was one from each region! Robyn’s personal pick was from the winning team: the TerraNoble Gran Reserva 2018. For Kent, this one was a very close second. However, his personal MVP was the Miguel Torres Reserva Especial Cordellera 2018. You can tell from the tasting notes (that Kent wrote) that he was swooning over the layers of continually emerging complexity.

But at the end of the day, when you’re enjoying a really good bottle of wine with family and friends, isn’t everybody a winner? No matter your taste, preference, or profile, there is a Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon for you. Next time you are in your wine shop, looking for a nice Cabernet to pair with your meal, or even just to sip, look to the south, and head for the Chilean wine section.

Cheers!

  • By Kent Reynolds and Robyn Raphael-Reynolds
  • Photos, except where noted, by Robyn Raphael-Reynolds