A Few Quick Chilean Wines from Thursday’s Vancouver Playhouse Wine Fest

Andrés Ilabaca from Santa Rita winery

Today, Thursday, is the first day of the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival, International Festival Tasting room. I decided to spend most of my time tasting Chilean wines as Chile is the theme country, so there will be many wines brought in specially for this event. Besides tasting I also had a chance to chat with some of the winery principals like Andrés Ilabaca from Vina Santa Rita.

If you are going out to the Tasting Room on Friday or Saturday night, here are a few quick picks:

  • Canepa Reserva Privada Sauvignon Blanc 2011
  • Concha y Toro Gravas del Maipo Syrah 2008
  • Emiliana Vineyards Novas Carmenere Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
  • Emiliana VineyardsWinemaker’s Selection Chardonnay / Viognier / Marsanne / Rousanne 2010 (This wine really impressed me.)
  • Vina Errazuriz Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2011
  • Vina Errazuriz Don Maximiano 2008
  • Lapostolle Casa Chardonnay 2011
  • Lapostolle Cuvee Alexandre Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
  • Miguel Torres Cordillera Chardonnay 2011
  • Vina Montes Alpha Chardonnay 2010
  • Vina Quintay Clava Pinot Noir 2010
  • Vina San Pedro 1865 Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
  • Vina San Pedro Cabo de Hornos 2007
  • Vina Santa Rita Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2011
  • Vina Santa Rita Medalla Real Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
  • Vina Arboleda Sauvignon Blanc 2011

    Emiliana selection of wines

  • Sena 2008
  • Vina Tarapaca Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
  • Vina Tarapaca Gran Reserva Carmenere 2010
  • Vina Ventisquero Vertice Syrah Carmenere 2007
  • Veramonte Reserva Pinot Noir 2009
  • Veramonte Neyen Carmenere / Cabernet 2008

Detailed tasting notes will follow, but check out these if you have a chance.  My next post I will give you some quick picks for wines for the rest of the world.  Enjoy!

Its Official – The Vancouver Playhouse Wine Festival is On!

Harry Hertscheg speaks to Media.

This afternoon was the official kick off of the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival. Our emcee was Mr. Harry Hertscheg, the Playhouse Wine Fest’s manager. He very eloquently introduced we in the media to this year’s event, with Chile as the host country, and Cabernet as our global grape focus.

Range of Red Wines from the Playhouse Wine Festival

At JOEY‘s downtown, we nibbled on a variety of latin-inspired appetizers and sipped a variety of wines from around the world, that will be poured during the Wine Festival.  Two of the wines were from Chile; a Leyda Valley Sauvignon Blanc, and an Errazuriz Carmenere (That’s Chile’s signature red grape by the way!).  I really liked the Sauvignon Blanc.  Leyda Valley is a very cool climate region south of the Casablanca Valley and close to the Chilean coastline.  The Errazuriz Carmenere also is also a nice example of the wine produced by the Carmenere grape.  Soft in the mouth, fruity with capsicum on the nose.

So from now till Sunday there are dinners, seminars, and of course the big International Festival Tasting room.  There are still some tickets available to various events.  Here is the link to tickets for you.

Where can you find me during the wine festival?

  • You’ll Tell Two Friends…: Social Media Symposium
  • Northern Gem, Southern Icon (Concha y Toro winery at Blue Water Cafe)
  • Food & Wine in Balance (Be a food & wine pairing expert)
  • Speaking Frankly about Franc (Learn about Cabernet Franc)

Keep checking into my blog as I will be posting as I attend these events, and sending tweets from my twitter account @mywinepal.

Interested in Going to Chile to try Wine?

I have arranged a 10 day wine and food tour of Chile and Argentina.  The tour will start May 23 and finish on June 1, 2012.  Starting in Santiago we will visit several wineries around Santiago and further south in the premium Colchagua Valley, then cross the Andes and visit several wineries in Mendoza, Argentina, and end up in Buenos Aries, experiencing the city, taking in a tango show, and more.  Here are the details of the wine tour for you.  I am keeping this tour small so that we all get personal attention from the restaurants and wineries we will visit.  Register soon before all the seats have been reserved.

The Chileans are Coming! Preview Notes for You

Flag of Chile

Every year we look forward to our pinnacle wine event, the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival.  Next year’s event will be Feb. 27 – March 4, 2012.  What does this have to do with Chile?  Chile is the theme country for the Festival!

A group of Media, myself included, were invited to a preview of the Chilean wines we can expect to see at the Festival, plus give us some background into this long, thin country.

My Experience in Chile

Karl aka MyWinePal at Casa Lapostolle

Two years ago I travelled down to Chile and visited wineries from the Aconcagua, Maipo, Casablanca, and Colchagua Valleys.  Some of the wineries were Casa Lapostolle, Montgras, Montes, Errazuriz, and Casas del Bosque.   I was impressed with how much the wineries cared for their vineyards and the production of their wines.  One of the nice thing with Chile, is that it is dry due to it’s location on the west coast of South America, and the Andes Mountains on it’s eastern border.  The dry climate, plus topography, and soil factors have made the area a great place to grow grapes.  There is very little, or no, phylloxera louse to attack the grape vines, plus the dryness keeps fungus and mold at bay.  So less pesticides and/or herbicides are needed here.  Many of the wineries in Chile indicate that they are organic or follow organic principles.

Chile’s Natural Advantage

Chile is a wine maker’s paradise.  They get 3 weeks more ripening time than in Bordeaux and 300 + days of sunshine each year.   The cool air from the Andes cools the grapes in the evening so that the grapes mature slowly so that they reach full phenolic ripeness; lots of ripe fruit and a good backbone of acidity. The adjacency to the coast, and the cool Humbolt Current helps produce coastal fog which cools the grapes near the coast, such as from the Casablanca Valley and San Antonio Valley.

What Grapes Grow in Chile?

There is a wide range of red and white grapes grown in Chile.  The top 5 red grapes in order of volume are:

  1. Cabernet Sauvignon
  2. Merlot
  3. Carmenere
  4. Syrah
  5. Pinot Noir

Montes M, Folly and Purple Angel wines

Cabernet is King is Chile.  With the 300+ days of sunshine, the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes produce very full-bodied, ripe, supple wines.  Concha y Toro’s Don Melchor is one of the top quality wines for this grape.  Merlot and Carmenere come in, in 2nd and 3rd place.  Yet they were thought of both being Merlot for many years.  The grapes were planted together in the same vineyard and the grapes and leaves of both vines look very similar.  It was only fairly recently that the Carmenere grape was identified (it’s a Bordeaux grape btw), and has become a signature grape for Chile. A second signature red grape is coming through the ranks, and that is the Syrah grape.  I think people started to recognize Syrah’s potential in Chile, with Aurelio Montes‘ plantings in the Apalta Region of the Colchagua Valley.  There he produces an ultra premium Montes Folly wine from Syrah.

For white grapes, the top 5 varieties are:

  1. Sauvignon Blanc
  2. Chardonnay
  3. Moscatel of Alexandria
  4. Riesling
  5. Viognier

Casas del Bosque Sauvignon Blanc and Reserva Chardonnay

Most people probably think of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay when they think of white wines from Chile.  Probably also the Casablanca Valley, where a lot of very good Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay are produced. An upcoming region for Sauvignon Blanc is slightly south of the Casablanca Valley and much closer to the coast is the Leyda Valley.  While the Sauvignon Blanc wine from the Casablanca Valley can be more tropical fruit, from the Leyda Valley, expect more citrus and herbal aromas and flavours.  Have you ever heard of Moscatel of Alexandria?  You might not have, but you probably have tried some Chilean Pisco.  Pisco is produced from the Moscatel grape.  Riesling and Viognier and two grapes with great potential.  I don’t think a particular region is well-known enough for these grapes, but I would hazard to guess that the Riesling grape would be very good in the Casablanca and San Antonio Valleys while Viognier would shine in the more inland, warmer regions, like Aconcagua, Maipo and Colchagua Valleys.

Wines We Tasted at the Media Preview

Montgras Santa Carolina and Undurraga Sauvignon Blancs

We enjoyed 3 Sauvignon Blancs and a range of single varietals and red blends.  The three Sauvignon Blancs:

  • Montgras Amaral Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (Leyda Valley). Light straw colour with a green tinge. Gooseberry and sweet honey nose. Light body with medium plus acidity.  Gooseberry and citrus flavours.  Medium length. My favorite of the these 3 wines.
  •  Vina Santa Carolina Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (Leyda Valley). Light lemon colour with herbal, asparagus and mint on the nose.  Round mouth feel with light body. Herbal, citrus and green apple fruit flavours with some minerality on the palate.  Quite sour on the finish.
  • Undurraga Terroir Hunter Leyda Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (Leyda Valley). 2008 was a later harvest than the other years, resulting in riper more tropical fruit flavours.  This wine was light lemon/green in colour.  Tropical fruit, lees and oak on the nose.  Light body,  round mouth feel but also has a good backbone of acidity. Oaky, smoky, citrus flavours.  Long length.

Wide range of Chilean red wines

Our red wines included single varietal Pinot Noir, Carmenere, and Cabernet Sauvignon, and blends.  The wines are:

  • Cono Sur Ocio Pinot Noir 2009 (Casablanca Valley). Medium ruby, Vanilla and cherry aromas. Medium body, dry, but full fruit, cherry flavours.  Vanilla in the back ground and some spiciness and raspberry leaf.  Slightly sweet cherry finish.
  • Emiliana Vineyards COYAM 2007 (Colchagua Valley). This is a biodynamic wine, which goes beyond organic wine making principles. Opaque garnet in the glass with ripe black fruit, vanilla, dark chocolate and cherrie aromas.  Full body, very round, with milk chocolate and ripe cherry flavours.  Some spice, raspberry leaf and vanilla on the finish.  A very high quality, balanced wine. You can read about biodynamic wines at this link.
  • Vina Maipo Gran Devocion Carmenere Syrah 2008 (Maule Valley). This blend is 75% Carmenere and 25% Syrah.  Deep ruby colour.  Meaty sausage and ripe cherry aromas. Full body, round with minerality.  Cherries, blueberries and vanilla flavours.   Medium plus acidity gives this wine bright flavours.
  • Carmen Gran Reserva Carmenere 2009 (Apalta Valley).  Some dustiness on the nose, along with ripe cherries, capsicum and vanilla.  Medium minus body with high acidity and soft tannins.  Dark chocolate and cherry flavours with a mineral streak running through the wine. Not mouth filling but very pleasant sensation in your mouth.
  • Vina Montes Limited Selection Cabernet Carmenere 2010 (Colchagua Valley). The nose on this wine was a little closed, but I did get some nutmeg and cherry aromas. But on the palate, nutmeg, cedar and dark fruit flavours jump out.  Round mouth feel, dry with some spiciness.
  • Santa Rita Medalla Real Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (Maipo Valley). Deep garnet in colour with cedar and ripe fruit aromas. Full body, rich feeling ,with  ripe dark fruit flavours and vanilla.  Dry with soft tannins and cedar on the finish.  This is a real good value wine at $19.99 a bottle. Also try their Medalla Real Pinot Noir!
  • Cousino-Macul Antiguas Reservas Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (Maipo Valley). This wine I think is starting to show it’s age as there is a slightly brownish tinge to an otherwise garnet colour in the glass. Some dark fruit on the nose.  Medium body, light mouth feel, with juicy black fruit flavour.  An elegant wine.
  • Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Cabernet 2009 (Maipo Valley). Deep dark core with a ruby rim in the glass. Vanilla, dark fruit and oak/cedar aromas. Full body, round mouth feel with soft tannins.  Light vanilla with some mintiness.
  • Vina Chocalan Gran Reserva Blend 2009 (Maipo Valley). This is a blend of 6 grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Carmenere, Petit Verdot, and Syrah.  Opaque garnet in the glass. Nice cedar, allspice and vanilla on the nose. Very round in your mouth with soft tannins. Allspice, cedar and ripe black fruit flavours.  Nice texture.  A favorite wine of many of the media I spoke with.

If these wines have enticed you, you may want to buy advance tickets to the Playhouse Wine Festival.  Here is my link to the tickets.  Enjoy and Salud!

Enjoy Chilean Wine at the BC Hospitality Foundation Dish & Dazzle

On Friday, June 17, 2011, you will be able to sample some fantastic wines from Chile, and help support the BC Hospitality Foundation’s Dish & Dazzle. What is the BC Hospitality Foundation?  The Foundation was formed in 2006 to help wine agent Michael J. Willingham pay for a costly surgery and subsequent rehabilitation following a stroke. Michael’s situation highlighted the need to establish a trust fund that could be used as a last-resort safety net for other industry members in need – who may or may not have benefits, be covered by employment insurance, or require assistance beyond traditional medical benefits. The Foundation benefits will cover people in the industry – food suppliers, hoteliers, media, publicists, retailers, vintners and wine sales representatives (from BCHR website).

The Dish & Dazzle is one of their fundraising efforts. The location will be the fabulous Fairmont Pacific Rim in downtown Vancouver. The schedule will include :

  • wines from 25 Chilean wineries with each pouring up to five different wines at their table,
  • four focus stations highlighting Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Carmenere & organic wine
  • food from 12 fine restaurants,
  • an exciting “sour” themed cocktail competition,
  • live entertainment and
  • silent auction

Dish n’Dazzle, will be a showcase for Vancouver’s dynamic hospitality industry. Restaurants, wineries and premium liquors will be featured in the main “tasting room” and guests will move from station to station in an interactive, informal setting.

If you have never tasted Carmenere wine before, this would be a good introduction.  Carmenere is a “forgotten” grape, originally from Bordeaux, France, but loves the climate of Chile and has become Chile’s signature red grape!  It has been mistaken in the past in Chile for Merlot.  Carmenere is dark red in colour with cherries and red fruit flavours, spice and sometimes a bit of green pepper.  The tannins are soft, making this wine easy to drink.  It goes well with BBQ so think about buying some carmenere for summer.  Here are some Carmenere that I have reviewed in the past:

  • Vina Santa Rita Pehuen Carmenere 2005 (Chile). Pehuen Carmenere is a premium wine from Vina Santa Rita.  Opaque purple in the glass. Dark fruit nose with a whiff of capsicum. Full bodied but with soft tannins.  Ripe black cherries, vanilla and spice on the palate.  A very long length.  Here is a Carmenere you should try.
  • Vina Errazuriz Max Reserva Carmenere 2007  (Chile). This wine spent 12 months oak aging. 2007 is the first vintage for the vines selected for this wine. It had a deep purple color in the glass. Cassis, smoke, black cherry, and oak on the nose. Black cherries, vanilla and cassis flavours. Smooth tannins. It had a long length, with a spice and red cherry finish. Highly recommended.
  • Montes Alpha Carmenere 2007 (Chile). This wine was deep purple in the glass. Capsicum, back fruit and vanilla aromas. On the palate I tasted red and black cherries, vanilla and a slight hint of capsicum. This wine had a soft, round mouth feel and a long length.
  • Viu Manent Reserva Carmenere 2008 (Chile). Deep purple colour in the glass. Vanilla, black fruits and a slight hint of capsicum on the nose. It was quite round in the mouth, with vanilla and ripe black fruit flavours, and a peppery finish.

In case you didn’t know, the theme country for next year’s Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival is Chile, so come out to this event, and get a sneak peek at what you can expect next year, and maybe find a few new favorites for this summer!

Here is the website for tickets for the BC Hospitality Foundation Dish & Dazzle. Enjoy!

Highlights from the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Fest – Day 2

The second day from the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival is now finished.  A lot of wine again today to taste.  But still probably more than half the wines haven’t yet been tasted.  I did visit many nice wineries and tasted some interesting wines from around the world today.  As I had mentioned in my previous blog article, today I would taste wines from the rest of the world, and then at the end try some Spanish wines I had missed.

Again to keep things brief, here is my 2nd list of recommended wines to try at the #VPIWF.  After the festival is over, I’ll post full tasting notes for these wines and others that I have tried on www.MyWinePal.com. The wines below range from white, red, sparkling, and fortified.

Recommended wines:

  • Babich East Coast Pinot Noir 2009 (New Zealand)
  • Vina Cobos Bramare Malbec 2008 (Argentina)
  • Decero Malbec, Remolinos Vineyard 2009 (Argentina)
  • Decero Cabernet Sauvignon, Remolinos Vineyard 2008 (Argentina)
  • Graffigna Grand Reserve Torrontes 2010 (Argentina)
  • Graffigna Centenario Reserve Malbec 2009 (Argentina)
  • Vina Santa Rita Medalla Real Pinot Noir 2008 (Chile)
  • Vina Santa Rita Pehuen Carmenere 2005 (Chile)
  • Cave de Tain Crozes Hermitage Red Les Hauts du Fief 2007 (France)
  • Cave de Tain Saint Joseph Red Esprit de Granit 2007 (France)
  • Pfaffenheim Steinert Grand Cru Gewurztraminer 2007 (France)
  • Pierre Sparr Mambourg Pinot Gris 2008 (France)
  • Schloss Reinhartshausen Prinz VVN Preussen Rielsing Off-Dry 2009 (Germany)
  • Ca’ Del Bosco Franciacorta Cuvee Prestige (Italy)
  • Mud House Central Otago Pinot Noir 2009 (New Zealand)
  • Man O’War Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (New Zealand)
  • Fonseca Guimaraens 10 Year Tawny Port (Portugal)
  • Quinta do Vale Dona Maria Vanzeller 10-Year-Old Tawny Port (Portugal)
  • Sogrape Vinhos Callabriga Dao Reserva 2005 (Portugal)
  • Sogrape Vinhos Ferreira 20-Year-Old Duque de Braganca (Portugal)
  • Champagne Lallier Rose (France)
  • Joseph Drouhin Chablis Premier Cru 2009 (France)
  • Mission Hill Family Estate Perpetua 2008 (Canada)
  • Juan Gil Monastrell 2010 (Spain)
  • Bodegas Abanico Mencia 2007 (Spain)
  • Bodgeas Abanico Tinta de Toro Eternum Viti 2008 (Spain)
  • Bodegas Abanico Tinta de Toro Los Colmillos 2008 (Spain)
  • Gonzalez Byass Croft, Pale Cream Sherry (Spain)
  • Zuccardi Series A Torrontes 2010 (Argentina)
  • Bodegas San Valero Monte Ducay Cava Brut (Spain)

That is a lot of recommendations, and a lot of wines to try in one day.  There were many more that are also good, but did not make the list.  I wish I had another day or two so that I could try the rest of the wines from the Festival.

Today’s agenda for me is New Zealand Perfect Parings, Good Gracious Grenache seminar, and Cinq a Sept French wines.  Check back tomorrow for a short article on these.  Enjoy the remainder of the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival, and remember to check out the Vancouver Playhouse and what they have to offer!  Support the arts.

Cavas Submarinas – a unique cellar in Chile

After a long day of wine tasting in Chile, I was flipping through the TV channels and stumbled upon a Spanish speaking channel talking about a winery called Cavas Submarinas. What was interesting is that you order a bottle of Cavas Submarinas wine, and instead of going to the cellar to fetch it, the sommelier puts on a wetsuit, dives into the Pacific ocean, emerges with a bottle, and comes back to your table to open it, dripping wet.

The Cavas Submarinas line consists of a Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir Carmenere blend, Carmenere, Syrah, and a Cabernet Sauvignon. The winery sinks containers of bottles along the coastline at specific depths (in SECRET locations), from 10 to 30 meters with the pressure of the ocean and cool temperatures keeping the wine fresh. The wines are aged beneath the waves from six months to a year. The winery asserts that the constant submarine temperature of 8°C, and the unique combination of ocean pressure, luminosity and wave movement gives the wine “…a roundness, a more Champagne-like flavor.”

With this in mind, I wonder if some enterprising winery in Kelowna or Penticton would try the same with Lake Okanagan, or maybe one of the Vancouver Island wineries?

If you can read Spanish, here is the Cavas Submarinas website.

Saludos!

Chile Day 10 – Casa Lapostolle and Viu Manent

Chile day 10 – Casa Lapostolle Clos Apalta and Viu Manent. My first stop this morning was with Casa Lapostolle in their Clos Apalta winery. This winery was specially designed for their flagship wine “Clos Apalta”. This is a Bordeaux blend with Carmenere, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot. The winery is dedicated to organic and biodynamic vineyard practices (which I enjoy and can note that it really does make a difference in your glass), and produces some very nice wines. The Apalta region is the premium red region in Colchagua and I believe in all of Chile. In keeping with my brevity in my blog while I am on the road, I will review one white and one red wine for Casa Lapostolle, with full tasting notes when I am back in Vancouver. For the white, I enjoyed the Casa Lapostolle Sauvignon Blanc 2009 from the Rapel Valley. It had varied aromas of citrus, pineapple and apple. On the palate there was good acidity with pineapple flavour and medium length. This is the FIRST year that Casa Lapostolle has used a screw cap on this wine or any of their other wines. An elegant wine which would pair nicely with seafood. For the reds, I must talk about their Clos Apalta Limited Release 2007. I am the FIRST person in media for North America to try this vintage of Clos Apalta and feel very privileged. This wine spends it’s first year aging in all new French oak barrels with each varietal in it’s own barrel. In year 2, the varietals (Carmenere, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot) are blended and put back in the same barrels and aged for another year. After 2 years in barrel, the wine is bottled and then the bottle is kept in storage for a year before release. The 2007 vintage was very deep purple coloured in the glass. It had vanilla and sweet black fruit on the nose. On the palate there was vanilla, sweet black fruit, red cherries, cloves, and cinnamon flavours. The flavours came out more as I swirled the wine in my glass exposing the wine to oxygen. It would be interesting if time permitted to try this wine after one hour, four hours and 24 hours to see how the wine’s aromas and flavours change. To get the full effect of the wine please decant it. The wine had a nice round mouth feel with a balance of medium tannins. It finished dry with cherry and vanilla flavours lingering on the palate for a long time.

After visiting Casa Lapostolle, my next stop for the day was the Viu Manent winery, just a short drive away. I was given a short tour of the winery, with an opportunity for a barrel sample of a Merlot and a Cabernet Sauvignon, followed by a horse drawn carriage ride through the vineyard. Malbec plays a very big part of the wines at Viu Manent with more being planted around their winery. I have enjoyed their Reserva Malbec in the past at tastings I have held with the South World Wine Society in Vancouver. It is interesting to see how they are producing Malbec very successfully, while this is the signature grape of Argentina. I sampled their Viu Manent Reserva Chardonnay 2008 from the Casablanca Valley. The wine has been released for almost a year. I was told that through the year in the bottle the wine has changed with the level of acidity decreasing, leaving the wine with an off-dry level of sweetness. This wine spent 6 months in oak barrels and as deep yellow in colour. It had a vanilla, apple, sweet and creamy nose. On the palate there was more of the vanilla, apple and creaminess. It was very soft and round in my mouth but also had a slight spiciness. For the red wine, I enjoyed the Reserva Carmenere 2008 from the Colchagua Valley. Deep purple colour in the glass. Vanilla, black fruits and a slight hint of capsicum on the nose. It was quite round in the mouth, with vanilla and ripe black fruit flavours, and a peppery finish.

I have found through discussions with various Chilean winemakers on this trip that Carmenere does tend to have a peppery finish, which is quite nice. The wine makers also suggest paring a Carmenere with spicy asian foods (e.g. Thai, Indian) as well as Mexican food.

That is all from the Colchagua Valley, Tomorrow is back to Santiago. Saludos!

Chile day 2 – Valparaiso

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} catch(err) {}Chile Day 5. Valparaiso. Today was a day of up and downs, that is from riding on funciulars along the steep slopes of Valparaiso. This is an interesting coastal city. The upper hills have many small B&B, restaurants and art galleries. Many of the walls along the narrow cobbled streets are painted with murals. For those wondering what a funicular is, it can best be described as an outside elevator, that has a track and cable going up the side of a steep hillside. The funiculars in Valparaiso are built between 1893 and 1915. The “cars” are built of wood and does take some faith that they are in good condition for riding. But they run daily several times every hour as the cars get full. It is an interesting experience.

Today beside going up and down the hillsides, I did have a chance to try more Chilean wine. This evening with dinner I ordered a bottle of Dona Dominga Carmenere 2008. This wine is from San Fernando, in the Colchagua Valley south of Santiago. This wine was very purple coloured, and looked very much like Malbec. On the nose, there was leather, tar and herbal notes. It was very round in the mouth, with juicy black fruit and plum flavours. There was a bit of spice as well. I paired this with grilled lamb chops that came with a creamy green pepper sauce and mashed potatoes. Another nice pairing.

Tomorrow i will visit the Errazuriz winery and time permitting, another winery nearby. That’s all for now. Saludos!v

Chile Day 1

Day 1 in Santiago Chile. Landing in Santiago and getting through Customs was a breeze. Being able to speak a bit of Spanish helps though. Checking into the Hotel Orly around noon, and it is time for lunch. Lunch today was a Chilean style hotdog, which they add in their “Completo”, sauerkraut and avocado. Quite tasty. At 5pm a local snack of empanada pino, which is a small baked bread filled with ground meat, egg, and olives. That left me with enough energy to wait till early dinner at 8pm at “La Liguria” on Manuel Montt Street. My friend Alejandro recommended this restaurant to me, and the food was very good. My wife and I shared a grilled slice of Corvina fish, a lomo (beef) steak, Chilean salad (peeled tomatoes, sliced onions, cilantro, chile, and vinegar). And of course some wine for this dinner. My wine for the evening as a Terranoble Reserve Carmenere. Carmenere is of course the signature red grape of Chile. This wine was deep purple in the glass, very ripe fruit nose and very fruity with soft tannins, and not a hint of capsicum aroma or flavour. It went very nicely with dinner. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s adventures in Chile! Saludos!

Muy Gusto Wines of Chile

Today I enjoyed the wines from more than 3o Chilean wineries at the Sutton Place Hotel in downtown Vancouver. There was a range of red and white wines from the northern region of Limari down to the south in Bio Bio. There was Chile’s signature grape, Carmenere at many of the agents tables, but also a wide variety of other varietals. Cabernet Sauvignon is the most widely planted red grape, followed by Merlot, then Carmenere. For the whites, Sauvignon Blanc is the most widely planted white grape followed by Chardonnay then Moscatel of Alexandria. One interesting varietal that I tried today was a Sauvignon Gris from Cousino Macul. I was told that this is the only Sauvignon Gris being offered in BC. This grape is a “lost” Bordeaux varietal that was brought to Chile before phylloxera infected the vines in France. This wine I believe was sur lie, as I detected some lees as well as lemon on the nose. It was a light bodied wine, with light acidity and peach flavour.

So what were some of the highlight wines that I tasted (I didn’t taste all the wines at the event, so i’m sure there are some excellent ones that I didn’t get to try)?

Vinedos Emiliana Eco Bio Bio Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2009 ($12.95). I like this wine as it is organic and a great price. Who says organic has to be expensive? This wine had asparagus aroma. Good acidity with citrus and apple flavours. A New World Style Sauv Blanc.

Montgras Ninquen. This is a blend of 65% Syrah and 35% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine comes from the Ninquen hill in the Colchagua Valley. This wine was deep purple in colour. Cassis and cherry on the nose. Cassis, dark fruit and black cherry flavours. It is very full bodied and has a spiciness that builds in your mouth as you savour it’s flavours.

Santa Carolina Reserva de Familia Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 ($19.95). This wine has a nice cassis nose. It is quite round in your mouth and has ripe red cherry flavour, and a dry finish.

Santa Rita Medalla Real Cabernet 2007 ($19.99) . This wine is medium garnet in the glass. Cassis, red cherry, and sweet red fruit aromas. Ripe cherry and black fruit flavours. This wine is very full bodied and has nice soft tannins. Outstanding value and quality.

That is all for now. There is alot of southern hemisphere wine events happening this week. On Thursday I’ll be at the Wines of Argentina event, with more wines to blog about. Salut!