Wines of Chile Presents Dish n’ Dazzle – Get Your Tix

dish n dazzleDish ‘n Dazzle returns! On Thursday, May 30 at the Pan Pacific Hotel (999 Canada Place), The BC Hospitality Foundation  and  Wines of Chile present a spectacular night of food, wine, and cocktails, that is sure to delight and entertain. 19 wineries from across Chile’s diverse wine regions will pair up with food from 12 of Vancouver’s best restaurants and a high-stakes cocktail competition will ensure things stay spirited!   The cocktail competition event will  feature custom cocktails created some by some of the finest mixologists in BC.  Guests will have a chance to taste these new drinks and be on-hand as a winner is announced. A large silent auction and raffle will round out the evening.

Chilean Wineries to Expect

Errazuriz winery in Chile

Errazuriz winery in Chile

The wineries attending will be:

  • Viña Carmen
  • Cono Sur
  • Concha y Toro
  • Viña Maipo
  • Montes
  • Car Men Air (Terraustral)
  • San Pedro
  • Ventisquero
  • Errazuriz
  • Santa Rita
  • Vinedos Emiliana
  • Koyle
  • Terra Andina
  • Santa Carolina
  • Undurraga
  • Casas del Bosque
  • J.Bouchon
  • Viña Falernia
  • Casa Marin

I’ve tasted the wines from most of these wineries, and visited several of them on my trip to Chile, and I can vouch for the quality of the wines you will taste.  You should take a wide range of wines from Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Syrah and more!

If you are interested in reading about my trip to Chile, here are my blog postings:

Where, When and How Much?

Date: Thursday, May 30, 2013
Time: 6:30PM – 9:30PM
Location: Pan Pacific Hotel, 999 Canada Place, Vancouver

Price $77.95 / person includes handling charge.

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!

Wine for Easter

Spring flowers for EasterEaster is a big holiday for many of us, where we get together with family and enjoy a big Easter dinner. Easter is also leading us into spring. Flowers are already blooming here in Vancouver, and I’m sure it will come soon in the rest of Canada.

Ham, roast chicken or turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes and vegetables are traditional dishes for many people’s Easter dinner. But maybe you are wondering what wine(s) to serve? Before starting dinner you may want to consider something sparkling? An easy to sip wine would be an Italian prosecco or a Moscato. These wines tend to be quite reasonably priced. Mionetto Prosecco FrizzanteEmotivo Prosecco, or Batasiolo Moscato D’Asti are three Italian wines you may want to consider.

For the main course, a roasted ham, if you are a red wine person, you could try a Pinot Noir or a Gamay (the most famous being Beaujolais). Serve slightly chilled. Here in North America, you could go with a Pinot Noir from British Columbia, such as the Quails Gate Okanagan Valley Pinot Noir. A Gamay such as Georges Duboeuf Brouilly, France would also be nice. The Gamay would also work with turkey.

Spierhead Chardonnay

What if you prefer white wine? Then I would suggest a riesling. The Kettle Valley Winery Riesling 2008 (BC) has a bit of residual sugar with some apple, flower and citrus aromas, and apple with a bit of petrol flavours, or on the organic side, Kalala Organic Estate Winery Riesling 2008 also from BC. If you prefer a drier riesling, how about the Plantagenet Great Southern Riesling 2008 from Australia? Quite minerally. Light green and petrol aromas. Apple and citrus flavours.

For roast chicken or turkey, there is Pinot Noir, as mentioned earlier. A lightly oaked Chardonnay would also work well. The oakiness and butteriness from some secondary malolactic ferementation would make the Chardonnay nice and round in your mouth to complement the richness of your roast chicken or turkey. If you would like to support Chilean wineries, after the earthquake, you may want to try the Carmen Nativa Vineyards Chardonnay (organic) or the Vina Errazuriz Wild Ferment Chardonnay from Chile. The Errazuriz Wild Ferment Chardonnay is always a winner for me. From my last tasting notes, I noted 100% barrel fermented in French oak for 9-10 months. 1/3 of wine goes through malolactic fermentation to add some extra body and butteriness. Full lemony colour. Lots of vanilla, caramel and tropical fruit on the nose. Very aromatic. Medium-full body, with tropical fruit and vanilla flavour. Has some acidity and slight spiciness to balance the creaminess. An excellent wine.  A BC selection would be Spierhead Winery Chardonnay 2010. Their chardonnay is creamy with lots of vanilla and tropical fruit aromas and flavours.  Enjoy juicy fruit flavours in your mouth with medium acidity to keep it refreshing.

I hope some of these wines give you ideas for what to serve with your Easter family meal. Enjoy!