On the Road with the Grape Guy

On the Road with the Grape Guy is a on-going feature that follows me from event to event ... I post my thoughts, feelings and reviews of what happened and what I tasted ... basically it is here that I review the events I attend and the things that thrilled me.

Love Wine Love Chile 2021

04 Feb 2022

(November 2021) … Chile has 18 distinct wine regions, extending 1400 km from north to south and are influenced by both the Andes Mountains and Pacific Ocean – below are the names of those valleys and what they are known for:

Chilean MapCopiapo Valley… The northernmost valley.

Huasco Valley… A new frontier for Chilean wine, on the border of the Atacama Desert and divided into two regions: Huasco Costa (20km from the Pacific Ocean) – Huasco Alto (in the region of Alto del Carmen).

Elqui Valley… Set at the southern edge of the Atacama Desert, one of Chile’s northernmost wine-producing regions.

Limari & Choapa Valleys… rich archeological heritage shows they prized both valleys for their agricultural significance since pre-Hispanic times.

Aconcagua Valley… Presents a range of ideal conditions for vine growing.

Casablanca Valley… Chile’s premier cool-climate wine region known for the gentle Pacific breezes, early morning fog, and old, granitic clay soils that create a rich tapestry of terroirs.

San Antonio Valley… Has three primary sectors: Leyda, Lo Abarca, and Rosario – newer areas are constantly emerging.

Maipo Valley… Best known winemaking region; built its reputation for excellent red wines in the mid-19th century.

Cachapoal Valley… Northern half of the large Rapel Velley; red varieties make up approximately 80% of the region’s total production.

Colchague Valley… Has evolved in the past fifteen years from a quiet stretch of farmland into one of the country’s largest and most active wine-producing regions.

Curico Valley… Vineyards date back to the 19th century; continues to be one of Chile’s most venerated, diverse, and largest wine-producing areas.

Maule Valley… Unlike many other Chilean growing regions, the Maule Valley does not have maritime influences.

Itata Valley… Chile’s oldest viticultural region has produced wine for over 450 years.

Bio Bio & Malleco Valleys… Chilean southernmost wine regions.

Cautin Valley… There are two subregions within Cautin Valley: Perquenco and Galvarino.

Osborno Valley… Only recently that Osorno has become a wine region; first planted in 2000 as experimentation. Four pioneering projects in the valley started by planting Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Riesling.

BookletThe Wines…
Over 120 wines were on display for tasting in a sit down and be-served format… I did my best to taste through all the wines and below are the top wines from my tasting:

Arboleda 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon
Subtle red full of dark fruit and spice with notes of mocha and cassis.  (*** ½)    

BrisaArboleda 2017 Brisa
A fierce blend of 40% Syrah, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Grenache, 14% Mourvedre and 10% Malbec that carries a nice peppery note to the finish with a good spice component that compliments the pepper with plenty of dark fruit hanging out in the background. Oak is there, but it does not overpower. Can be cellared for 5+ years.  (****)

Aresti 2020 Trisquel Series Vichuquen Costa (Chardonnay)
Nice butteriness, with a good proportion of apple, pear and nectarine - really very pleasant with a creamy mid-palate and long finish.  (****)    

Cono Sur Winery 2019 20 Barrels Pinot Noir
Pretty and delicate Pinot with strawberry and blackberry notes, very fruit forward with a little barrel note backing.  (****)    

Cono Sur Winery NV Sparkling Rose (Pinot Noir)
So light in colour it’s barely noticeable as a rosé, but it’s also light and flavourful, with lovely acidity - has more citrus appeal than anything else. A slight departure from the usual, but still great value and a delight to drink.  (****)    

Vina Casas del Bosque 2021 Reserva Sauvignon Blanc
Nice intensity of fruit that sits on the tropical side, but also with a nice grassy-citrus core - quite pleasant.  (*** ½+)    

Vina Casas del Bosque 2021 La Cantera (Sauvignon Blanc)
Very grassy on the nose, the palate delivers white peach and more grass, it’s interesting, but that grass has a way of getting in the way.  (*** ½)

Vina Casas del Bosque 2021 Rose (Pinot Noir)
Delicate raspberry and cherry with some notes of citrus and floral.  (*** ½)    

Vina Casas del Bosque 2019 Gran Reserva Pinot Noir
Floral kicks things off with some cherry and strawberry notes - simple but satisfying.  (*** ½)
Vina Casas del Bosque 2019 Gran Reserva Cabernet SauvignonCasa Bosque
Fun chocolate entry with a nice dark fruit core: black cherry, cassis, and blackberry … there’s just so much yum here and the tannins, while present, are assertive but manage not to get in the way.  (****+)  

Vina Chocalan 2019 Origen Syrah Gran Reserva
Some earthy character touched smoky notes, but it’s the good dark berry fruit at its core that makes this wine interesting: black raspberry and black cherry with a hint of mocha.  (*** ½+)    

Vina Errazuriz 2019 Alto Cabernet Sauvignon
Soft and lush, with lots of dark fruit at its core, namely black cherry, blackberry and spice.  (*** ½+)
Vina Errazuriz 2018 Aconcagua Syrah
This is a delightful ride for the palate with its raspberry and spice plus the mocha that seems to be the very core of this wine, plus there’s an addition of white pepper for added charm.  (*** ½+)    

Vina Errazuriz 2017 Villa Don Maximiano
This Villa is a blend of 28% Syrah / 25% Cabernet Sauvignon / 20% Malbec / 17% Cabernet Franc and 10% Mourvedre - it’s in more of a drinkable / drink-now style ‘Don’ (especially when compared with Maximiano senior) with its light red fruits a la raspberry, red currants and smoke.  (*** ½+)    

Espiritu de Chile 2020 Intrepido Reserva (Cabernet Sauvignon)
A nice version of Cabernet with a slight menthol note wrapped around mocha/coffee bean and smoked pepper - playful and fun to drink.  (*** ½+)    

Espiritu de Chile 2019 Explorador (Cabernet Sauvignon)
This version of the Espiritu Cabernets drops the menthol and shows a lot of dark fruit at its core, It also shows some age. It’s smooth and lush in the mouth with good acidity; this is a drink now Cab (within 2-3 years).  (*** ½+)     

Garces Silva Family Vineyards 2020 Amayna Sauvignon Blanc
Plenty of tropical fruit with some citrus to back it up - lush mouthfeel, but still shows good acidity.  (*** ½+)    

Garces Silva Family Vineyards 2019 Boya Pinot Noir
Offering good Pinot Noir character, with some slightly earthy notes, but ultimately the fruit is really what is front-and-center with strawberry, cranberry, red currants and good acidity.  (*** ½+)    

Garces Silva Family Vineyards 2019 Catalino (Pais)
Soft and supple with a real fruit forward nature – I’d call this Chile’s version of Gamay?  (*** ½)    

Miguel Torres Chile 2021 Las Mulas Chardonnay
Nice acidity that comes across with green apple and citrus notes.  (*** ½+)
Miguel Torres Chile 2017 La Causa Pais
Another Pais that’s very pretty and fruit forward: cherry, raspberry and more. Chillable and easy drinking; uncomplicated and tasty. I’m digging on these wines for their simplicity.  (*** ½)    

Miguel Torres Las MulasMiguel Torres Chile 2021 Las Mulas Cabernet Sauvignon
Heavy on the dark fruit plus mint/menthol, herbal, cloves, and blackberry - quite juicy on the palate. For a value-priced Cabernet, this one delivers what you’re looking for.  (****)    

Miguel Torres Chile 2019 Andica Cabernet Sauvignon
Rich and tasty with its coffee, blackberry, cassis and smoke.  (*** ½+)    

Montes Wines 2020 Reserva (Cabernet Sauvignon)
Mocha, blackberry, black cherry - simple and sippable.  (*** ½)    

Montes Wines 2019 Alpha (Chardonnay)
A Chardonnay that’s lush across the palate with notes of peach and apple - the highlight is that creamy core.  (*** ½)    

Montes Wines 2019 Alpha (Cabernet Sauvignon) Alpha Montes
A real beauty with its mint and smoke on the nose; on the palate there’s a real depth with lots of lush dark fruit, this one hits all the right notes: black cherry, blackberry, vanilla and smoke - I reiterate, it’s a beauty.  (****+)    

Montes Wines 2018 Purple Angel
This is the way good Carmenere should be made, with great herbal notes and a fruit core: mocha, blueberry and blackberry take center stage.  (****)    

Vina Perez Cruz 2019 Limited Edition Cabernet Sauvignon
This Cab uses a small percentage (6%) of Petit Verdot in the mix: minty-mocha and blackberry fruit. There’s also a real richness on the finish where some cassis joins the fray.  (*** ½+)    

ChaskiVina Perez Cruz 2018 Chaski Petit Verdot
Lovely gentle spice and raspberry note with mocha and some cassis and blueberry - delicate spiciness just adds that little extra touch here.  (****+)    

Vina Perez Cruz 2020 Grenache
This one is raspberries galore on the nose and on the palate. Then you might notice the floral and red cherry, if you decide to dive a little deeper.  (*** ½+)    

Vina Perez Cruz 2020 Cot (Malbec) Limited Edition
Big hit of blue fruit on the nose along with notes of black cherry and floral - there’s a nice freshness on the palate and a touch of plum and black cherry. Rich and fruit driven.  (***)

Vina Santa Carolina 2018 Reserva de Familia Cabernet Sauvignon
Lots of dark fruit: cassis, blackberry, black cherry, subtle notes of pepper and spice - good acidity, easy drinking and pleasant.  (*** ½+)

Vina Santa Carolina 2020 Reserva Merlot
Very juicy, like Merlot can certainly be, plus chocolate, subtle notes of mint, a rich mouthfeel and plenty of black fruits: cassis and blackberry are standouts.  (*** ½)    

Vina Santa Rita 2020 Floresta Limari Chardonnay
Vines for this wine were planted in 1997 and it is said to be “one of the great sites for Chardonnay”: good acidity with crunchy white fruits - on the palate it has a lovely texture and nice weight.  (*** ½+)

Vina Santa Rita 2020 Secret Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Nice dark fruit: black cherry, blackberry and vanilla - simple but tasty.  (*** ½)    

Vina Santa Rita 2020 Secret Reserve Sauvignon Blanc
Grassy and tropical with good acidity on the finish. (*** ½)    

Vina Santa Rita 2020 Secret Reserve Pinot Noir
The middle seems to be normal, but the finish makes this Pinot a little funky and a little different: smoked-cranberry, strawberry and mocha(?) - but it works.  (*** ½)    

Vina Santa Rita 2018 Triple C
A blend of 60% Cabernet Franc, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Carmenere with a pleasant note of mocha and black fruit.  (*** ½)    

Siegel Family Wines 2021 Gran Reserva Viognier
A fun little version of Viognier that’s creamy and tropical-fruited with nice acid backbone.  (*** ½+)     

Siegel Family Wines 2019 1234 Blend
Name is fun, and might refer to the four grapes that go into this wine: Syrah (50%) / Carmenere (30% / Cabernet Franc (10%) and Petit Verdot (10%) - blackberry and mocha join blueberry, black cherry and smoke - there’s a slight earthy character that comes through on the finish, but it’s that smokiness that finally wins out.  (*** ½+)    

Siegel Family Wines 2018 Unique Selection
A year older and a little different in its makeup (45% Cabernet Sauvignon / 35% Carmenere and 20% Syrah) - but it comes across similar to the wine above with a little more tannin on the finish.  (*** ½+)    

Siegel Family Wines 2018 Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
Nice minty-black fruit combination with a little smoke and burnt coffee bean on the finish.  (*** ½)    

Vina VikVina Vik 2018 Milla Cala
A five grape blend: the big Bordeaux three plus Carmenere and Syrah - shows a light touch with blackberry and blueberry meeting red currants and plum.  (*** ½+)    

Vina Vik 2020 Vik A (Cabernet Sauvignon)
Silky, smooth and elegant with a real light touch of red berry fruit and coffee – it has a nice acid punch on the finish that carries this wine and keeps it from being heavy.  (****)    

Vina Vik 2019 La Piu Belle
A pretty bottle encases this wine. It has a smoky nature with a little more umph than the other 2 - spice and acid fight it out on the finish while mocha, blackberry, pepper and spice take up residence on the mid-palate.  (****+)

Vina San Pedro 2019 Tayu Pinot Noir
A very earthy, smoky version of Pinot Noir this time out, not as delicate as last year’s version… takes a little time to open and finally, when the fruit emerges, it becomes a little darker in nature.  (*** ½)


Abruzzo : “The Charming Taste of Europe”

18 Jan 2022

Abruzzo(November 2021) ... Lots of interesting information delivered about the Abruzzo region of Italy – so much so that wanting to go visit jumped up a few notches on my “places-to-go-and-taste” bucket list.

The winemakers and owners that spoke sold the idea of skiing in the morning and going to the beach in the afternoon - seeing that they have both activities available within 30 to 40 minutes of each other, and they can be done on the same day every day. For the outdoor adventurer, the wines they offer up range from the beautiful Pecorino and Trebbiano D’Abruzzo (whites) and the mainstay of the region, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo (red) – maybe the most confusing grape in the Italian lexicon of indigenous grapes. Interesting to note that the area has been paying Montepulciano (Tuscany) for the use of the name up until very recently


The Territory

Abruzzo and NicIt lies between the Adriatic Sea and the Grand Sasso mountain (approximately 3,000 m in height); it also has three national parks and more than 10 national and regional nature reserves (making up 30% of the territory). The mountainous area takes up more than 65% of the entire regional territory. The region also has great diurnal temperature fluctuation because of its makeup – thus allowing the grapes to heat up during the day and cool at night – a situation perfect for grape growing.

Abruzzo is broken down into four provinces: Chieti - which is 83% planted (the most of any province), followed by Pescara (10%), Teramo (6%), and L'Aquila (less than 1%) ... Total planting in the region is 34,000 hectares of which 17,000 of those hectares is dedicated to Montepulciano d'Abruzzo.

Abruzzo produces 1.2 million bottles of which 65% is sent abroad (19% to Germany, 13% to USA, 11% to Canada, and 10% to the UK); there are approximately 10,000 producers and over 250 wineries (and 35+ cooperatives). The region also breaks down it's designated areas with three IGTs and 5 DOCs, by 2022 there will be a shift towards subregions and sub zones and then even down to communes and specific vineyards: "it's a very exciting time for Abruzzo", reports one producer with a gleam in his eye.


Note About the Grapes ...

Trebbiano d’Abruzzo (DOC) … a totally different version of this Italian staple grape then those found anywhere else ... Trebbiano is not necessarily a grape variety as much as it is a family of grapes.

Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo (DOC) ... This is a rosé made from Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, but the grape variety’s name is not allowed to appear on the bottle – it is also the first Italian denomination dedicated to rosé wine.

Abruzzo Pecorino (DOC) … This grape is part of the Trebbiano family and there's an interesting backstory about how it got its name. During harvest time, sheep would be shepherded through the vineyard, as they went by the now ripe grapes they would eat them - the farmers, as an apology, would bring them back the sheep's milk cheese that they would make. That cheese of course, was Pecorino.

Montepulciano d'Abruzzo (DOC) ... This is the big gun, the one we all know about. The one they do almost everything with. If it's red, it's Montepulciano d'Abruzzo and it can be made in stainless steel, barrel fermented, lightly aged in oak or long aged in oak and everything in between. This is what the region is truly known for. It makes up 50% of all roots in vineyards, or a staggering 17,000 hectares.

The Wines ...

Biagi 2019 Retro, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo BIagi
This 100% Montepulciano is aged 6 months in barrique but the older kind and then it sees stainless before bottling ... The fruity characteristics come right out in the form of red cherry, black cherry, plus a little bit of tannin - quite enjoyable with a nice finish.  (****)

Bosco Nestore 2018 Linea Storica, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo
Pretty typical of the region. This 100% Montepulciano is full of cherry fruit and is silky across the tongue - quite easy drinking.  (*** ½)

Bosco Nestore 2017 Pan, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo
Another 100% Montepulciano, this time a little more rustic in nature with black cherry, and some smoky character, plus spices like cinnamon and clove there’s also some notes of strawberry and balsamic on the finish.  (*** ½+)

Cantina Tollo 2016 Mo, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo
A basic, but tasty, version of Montepulciano: black cherry, blackberry and a little bit of smoke all touched by a little cedary note on the finish. Give it a little time in the cellar and this should mellow out and reward.  (*** ½+)

Collefrisio 2017 Vignaquadra, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo
Right from first sip this one comes across totally juicy with lovely blackberry notes, then in sweep some vanilla, licorice and cinnamon to give it a little extra kick.  (*** ½+)

Ettore Galasso 2020 Lampasso, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo
This 100% Montepulciano, done in the appassimento style – but with a twist, without use of oak. The grapes lose about 50% of their water weight, concentrating them to 14% alcohol: sweet black fruit with subtle smoke and good tannins.  (*** ½)

Jasci & Marchesani 2020 Montepulciano D'Abruzzo
Another basic but juicy model of Montepulciano: “lightly passed” through oak barrels (3-6 months) – cherry, plum and spice all the way.  (*** ½)

RudhirJasci & Marchesani 2018 Rudhir
A Montepulciano that spends 18 months in 2-year-old barrels. In bottle it delivers on absolute yumminess ... Lovely spiced-cherry, smoked-plum and coffee bean accost the nose, with raspberry and strawberry joining in on the palate. It is a fruit / spice dominant bomb of a wine - with a lingering finish. Might need a little more time in the cellar to come fully comes together, but it drinks nicely right now.  (****+)

Fattoria La Valentina 2018 La Valentina, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo
Only 20% of this wine sees oak (large 25 hectoliter barrels), none of them new and that allows the fruit to shine as it is fresh and lively with a very fruit-driven core showing lots of primary red fruits; there's also a lovely texture on the finish.  (*** ½+)

Masciarelli 2018 Castello di Semivicoli, Trebbiano d’Abruzzo
A wine made from Trebbiano d'Abruzzo, not to be confused with any other kind of Trebbiano you may have had - this one's fresh and fun with pineapple and citrus, a nice minerality, lively on the palate with good texture, there’s even a slight salty note with a fun little bit of a smoky character on the finish.  (****)

Masciarelli 2017 Marina Cvetic, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Riserva Marina
This Montepulciano sees 12 to 18 months in first and second passage, French oak barriques (those are the small ones), but it's a nice use of oak, as the fruit still shines through: black, cherry and blackberry with a good smoky character, plus a touch of vanilla and cinnamon. The oak brings out a robust and punchy character to the finish.  (****)

Masciarelli 2015 Villa Gemma, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Riserva
This Montepulciano spends 24 months in oak, all new, all French. Sweet cherry, vanilla, coffee, and leathery with a smoky finish - there's a long life ahead of this wine. So, a good 5-to-10 years in the cellar won't hurt it a bit.  (****+)

Nic Tartaglia 2020 Pecorino, Colline Pescaresi
Lots of mineral freshness here, including fruits like pear and pineapple with a delicate smokiness. These vines were planted in 2016 and already show a really lovely minerality.  (*** ½)

Nic RoseNic Tartaglia 2020 Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo
Cerasuolo is really a “red wine masquerading as a white,” made from Montepulciano, yet they can’t say it on the label, and made in a rosé style. Yet seems to have more texture and even a little bit of tannin on the palate. Nice acidity, good texture and body, with some citrus and cran-apple, plus cherry and raspberry, this is a wine that will match with so many foods.  (****)

Novaripa 2020 Sotto di Ciele. Montepulciano D’Abruzzo
Seems like a simple version of Montepulciano, but then you realize how much it is over delivering for a wine that's just kissed by oak. Look this is a drink now wine but it's got lots of dark fruit and spice with blackberry, black cherry and spiced plum. It's absolutely delicious and worth every penny. It's what you want your Montepulciano to be. (****)

Orlandi Contucci Ponno 2020 Abruzzo Pecorino Superiore
A lovely Pecorino that's salty and minerally but also backed by lots of pineapple, lemon zest and apple.  (*** ½)

Orlandi Contucci Ponno 2020 Rubiolo, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo
A simple Montepulciano d'Abruzzo with its red cherry fruit, namely raspberry, strawberry, plus blackberry and smoke; but even the simplest wines from this grape seem to be delicious.  (*** ½+)

Paride D'Angelo 2020 Pecorino, Colline Pescaresi (organic)
This 100% Pecorino goes through wild fermentation then 6 months in stainless steel tanks ... It's nice and dry and crisp, seems to come across a little linear on the palate with its minerality and saltiness, but then incomes pineapple, green, apple, citrus, and good acidity mid-palate to finish. It’s that good acidic seam that keeps this wine fresh and lively with a really long appealing finish.  (****)

Paride D'Angelo 2016 Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Riserva (organic)
Smoky black cherry starts off the big dark fruit component. This wine spends one year in new French tonneau (large barrels) - and 1 month in stainless steel with only 1300 bottles being produced.  (*** ½)

Podere Colle San Massimo 2020 Abruzzo Pecorino
Crisp and refreshing with a salty mineral component. Perfect for seafood.  (*** ½)

Podere Colle San Massimo 2019 Colle Rosso, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo
Simple Montepulciano with no oak aging. Shows lots of blackberry, black cherry and smoky notes, but it’s also quite friendly on the palate.  (*** ½)

Tenute Secolo IX 2020 Fonte Grotta
Made from a special “Moscato biotype": Casariense. Really nice minerality here, which really is surprising, considering the sweet nose and entry onto the palate. It starts with floral and sweet fruit, but ends with dry minerality and gives you a real “Wow Effect”.  (****)

Tenuta Secolo IX 2015 Moscatello Passito
What a lovely little bottle of dessert wine, with its honey, peach and apricot notes plus green apple and some delicate spice. It really is a “wow” kind of wine made with a very unique grape variety: Moscatello di Castigliane a Casauria.  (****+)

The Family Estates 2018 Torre Zambro Colle Maggio, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo
This Montepulciano is barrel aged for 6 months. Has nice texture and weight with a little bacon fat and blackberry, plus black cherry, vanilla and cedar.  (*** ½+)


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