Category: On the Road with the Grape Guy
(May 2021) ... A fun wine tasting with Emmanuel Riffaud, winemaker of this Rothschild endeavor in Chile, started in 1999. Ironically, Riffaud has been with the Rothschild brand since 1999 when he was a member of the Mouton Cadet technical team - he then moved to Chile in 2008 and, over the course of 7 years, became the managing director of the Chilean operation in 2015.
Quoting his philosophy (which parallels the company philosophy) ...
"Always quality over profitability" - Emmanuel Riffaud
As mentioned, the Escudo Rojo project began in Chile in 1999 and if you are wondering about the name, its origin are quite natural when the dots are connected - the name is passed through German "Rote Schild" to Spanish “Escudo Rojo” meaning “Red Shield”.
“We must over deliver in the bottle because we are Rothschild" - Emmanuel Riffaud
Today the company owns 1,000 plus hectares in Chile, grows eight grape varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Carmenere, Chardonnay, Petit Verdot, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah - is sold on all five continents of which Canada lies 10th in its top 10 markets behind Japan (1), USA (4), France (5), Brazil (8) and the UK (9).
The wines tasted today were mostly from the 2019 vintage and ranged from Chardonnay to Carmenere and finally a very special 100% Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Wines ...
(scoring is out of 5 stars and appear at the end of the tasting note)
Escudo Rojo 2019 Chardonnay Reserve
($17.95 - #17617)
50% of this wine sees oak influence for 6 months (25% new) - starts with a nice salty minerality while adding pear, apple, lemon, green melon and floral - there's even a richness on the palate of guava, mango, pineapple, plus vanilla and hazelnuts - it's quite intense, but tasty ... If the acidity were a little more elevated to cut through all that sweet fruit and richness the score would be a little higher. (*** ½)
Escudo Rojo 2019 Carmenere, MAPU Reserva
($13.95 - #19242)
This Carmenere seems a tad on the “under-ripe” side with an herbaceous, green pepper and herbal note that permeates the entire wine ... It comes across fresh, due to the acidity, but the fruit is quite tamped down at the moment and produces a peppery kick ... As it opens touches of blueberry, cassis and black pepper do emerge; but you never really get rid of that herbal essence. (*** ½)
Escudo Rojo 2019 Carmenere Reserva
($17.95 - #14058)
When compared with the wine above (MAPU) this shows a more toned-down herbal / herbaceous character with black cherry, and dark plum fruit plus smoky-vanilla and Christmas spices across the tongue. Fresh, lively and a much more approachable Carmenere ... On the finish coffee meets blackberry and black cherry with good length. (*** ½+)
Escudo Rojo 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Origine
($30.00 - #17928)
This is a special cuvee of 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the most storied part of the vineyard. It spends 12 months in barrel (25% new) with additional resting in bottle for another year. Lovely expression of Chilean Cabernet with plenty of minty notes on the nose along with black cherry - the palate is delicate with that mint, but loads up on blackberry and black cherry along with a lovely note of chocolate on the finish. Fresh, long and elegant. (****+)
Category: On the Road with the Grape Guy
(March 2021) ... This “web show” had been in the works for a number of months before it finally came about. Dates were offered up as potential, but due to conditions and other factors that I'm sure have to do with getting wine into the country, the delay stretched on ... Finally, Gambero Rosso was able to have their show and we (as journalists) were privileged to enjoy these wines.
Who is Gambero Rosso???
Gambero Rosso is an Italian food and wine magazine and publishing group founded in 1986. The name translates to “red prawn” which is the name of the tavern in Pinocchio (where the fox and the cat dined). They have produced 24 editions of “The Italian Wine Bible” including the new 2021 edition.
The web show was broken down into two parts, held over two days (March 26th and March 30th) - each day eight wines were highlighted from throughout Italy - and each was specially selected by Gambero Rosso because of its high quality in showcasing Italian wine excellence.
Below are my selections/notes from the day two tasting:
(rating are out of 5 stars and appear at the end of the tasting note)
Bortolomiol 2019 Valdobbiadene Brut lus Naturae (Veneto)
"Their dense network of local growers have proven and invaluable asset, as has the estate vineyards." - Gambero Rosso
As with most Prosecco wines this is made with 100% Glera grapes in the charmat method ... It's a wine that's light and fruity with crisp apple and lime zest notes - but what makes this one even more special are the salted-almond and mineral notes that also appear. (*** ½+)
Vite Colte 2018 Barbera d'Asti Superiore La Luna e i Falo (Piedmont)
"A shared agronomic protocol that brings together 180 members who cover a total of no less than 300 hectares of vineyards." - Gambero Rosso
A Barbera wine that spends 12 months in French oak barrels of which 33% are new ... when I removed the capsule I was horrified to see a plastic cork in this wine (which means it's age-ability is limited), but thankfully it's a fresh and fruity wine that's light and easy to drink - it comes across like an Italian version of Gamay, crushable and full of cherry and raspberry fruit with a dusting of white pepper. Consume over the next two to three years (that closure won't allow it to go any further, especially based on how light and fruity it is now). (*** ½+)
Badia A Coltibuono 2018 Chianti Classico (Tuscany)
“Have managed to maintain a unique and inimitable character, demonstrating that the power of terroir sometimes exceeds all else." - Gambero Rosso
Winery established in 1051 so there is lots of history here, today they use indigenous yeast and organic practices - when asked about the most recent harvest versus those of their historical past it was noted that they used to harvest in October and November, now they harvest in September; and while alcohol levels were traditionally hovering around 12% they now push 13 to 13.5% - "keeping freshness is the challenge” (said their winery representative). With that challenge thrown down, Coltibuono has accepted and delivered. This wine has 10% "traditional grapes” namely Canaiolo and Ciliegiolo and spends 12 months in both French and Austrian oak. First thing you'll notice is the color - beautiful ruby red and the aromas of floral, smoky, cranberry leading to a great mouthfeel that's soft and supple balanced by its acidity: Cherry, balsamic, stony and salty - and while the nose remains fairly shy, the palate is expressive, elegant and gentle ... really food friendly with that lovely acid backbone. (****+)
Tenuta di Arceno 2017 Chianti Classico Riserva (Tuscany)
“Increasingly convincing, American-owned Tenuta di Arceno (Kendall-Jackson Group), which produces wines of impeccable quality and craftsmanship." - Gambero Rosso
On the property they grow 50% Sangiovese and 50% other varieties (mostly international) - the other 10% of this Chianti is Cabernet Sauvignon taken from the highest point of the estate; aged 10 months in French (with never any new used) - total aging ends up being 24 months before release. The alcohol is a high 14.5%, which helps create that rich, round almost sweet dark fruit note to this Chianti, but the balancing act the acidity plays here helps it from being an over-the-top, weighty mess and even shows a freshness and age-ability: Smoky black cherry, floral, tobacco, cassis, cinnamon, aniseed, black licorice, a little char and even some herbal/savoury notes all help add to the enjoyment of this wine. Love the complexity. The tannins are quite tight now but should loosen their grip over the next 10 or so years. (****+)
Piaggia 2017 Carmignano Riserva (Tuscany)
"The estates vineyards are situated in the municipality of Poggio a Calano and Carmignano, and fall within the Carmignano DOC appellation. " - Gambero Rosso
With 30% of the wine being composed of Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc and 10% Merlot there’s no mention of oak aging during the tasting – but this wine has a weight, texture and structure that denotes something that has seen elements of oak in it's making. Licorice, black cherry, slightly smoky and all with a beautiful richness and spice with balsamic and cedar also making an appearance. The acidity balances this wine and helps create a long luxurious finish. Nothing overpowers, nothing overwhelms: balance, complexity and structure are the name of the game here. (**** ½)
Tenuta Monteti 2016 Monteti (Tuscany)
"Located near Capalbio in the southernmost part of Maremma wine country." - Gambero Rosso
A wine that forgoes the traditional grape of Tuscany (Sangiovese) completely, instead combining 45% Petit Verdot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Cabernet Franc spending 18 months in French barrique (70% new and 30% second fill), then it is bottle aged and extra 24 months before release; and while an odd Italian combination the results are a delight: blue and black fruit dominate with smoky black cherry, white and black pepper and a fresh juicy blackberry, blueberry plus a nice creamy finish. (****+)
Late Arrival ...
There were two wines that were late arrivals due to being “blocked at customs”. One wine for each tasting this is a wine was from part two that arrived late.
Tacchino 2016 Barbera del M. to Albarola
A Barbara that spends somewhere between 12 to 24 months in large (500L) French oak tonneau – and then they give it another year in bottle. Rich interpretation of Barbara that takes this usually simple wine up a notch. Plummy, smoky, black cherry, white pepper and even some coffee notes ... As it opens there's a cocoa quality that also comes through - this is a Barbara with both texture and structure beyond the norm, and it’s quite welcome. (****)