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 4 – Casas del Bosque

Chile day 4. Today was my first day of official wine tasting at a winery here in Chile. My visit was to the Casas del Bosque winery. It is about a 1.5 hr ride from Santiago to Casas del Bosque. We left with semi-sunny skies around Santiago until we passed through a tunnel that on the other side was the start of the Casablanca Valley. We immediately hit the coastal fog which is famous for the valley. I met with a very informative lady named Judith Ramirez Aquirre. Judith took me through some of the vines surrounding the winery. As it is spring here in Chile, there are no berries yet. The vines have started to sprout leaves and some have the buds for the grapes which have yet to bloom. Grape vines i am told bloom in November in Chile. That there are buds now is surprising to the people at the winery. They mentioned that it was the Pinot Noir vines that were 3 weeks advanced. There was also chardonnay and sauvignon blanc vines around which were still with very small leaves forming. After walking through the vines, we viewed the crushing area, the stainless steel fermentation vats, the oak barrel aging room, and the bottling line, before we moved to the Tasting Room. Judith led me through a tasting of 8 wines. We started with Sauvignon Blanc, then to Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and a red blend. All the grapes are from the Casablanca Valley, except for the Cab, which was from the Rapel Valley. Although I do not have time to go through all the wines today, I’ll point out a few, and then when i’m back in Canada, i’ll provide all my tasting notes on www.mywinepal.com. One wine of note was the 2009 Casas del Bosque Sauvignon Blanc Reserva (unbelievable being a 2009 vintage, while the Okanagan is still harvesting grapes). This is made very much in a New World (New Zealand) style. This one was pale lemon with a green tint. Lots of gooseberry and herbal on the nose, and a bit of celery. Good acidity, with gooseberry, herbal, celery and green apple flavours. Pair with some oysters on the half shell or lightly cooked fish for a nice complement. On the red wine side, I will make note of the 2008 Casas del Bosque Pinot Noir Gran Reserva. This wine spent 9 months in french oak. They like to use 2-3 year French oak barrels as much as possible for all their barrel aged wines so the oak is there, but not in your face. This one had a wide range of aromas. Strawberry, oak, red cherry, dill and mushroom at first, but then some vanilla on the nose. The wine was quite fruity. Lots of red cherry, but also some dill and vanilla. Quite smooth, medium length, and a dry finish. I’d try this with grilled salmon, or pan fried chicken breast with vegetables and herbs. That is all for now. I’m in Valparaiso enjoying the views of this UNESCO World heritage site. Saludos.