So my friend Zin Diva came by to taste some wines today for an upcoming event. Unfortunately, since I am in Hong Kong at the moment promoting our Hong Kong wine offerings for our company there Open 3 Wines, Cody stepped up to the plate to lead the tasting. Here is what we tasted:
Corralillo – Sauvignon Blanc – 2010
This is a Sauvignon Blanc from Chile and who doesn’t love Chilean Sauvignon Blancs? When I first started drinking wine, I pretty much only drank red. I didn’t care what it paired with, I just wanted a Cabernet Sauvignon or Malbec and I was not open to much more. Then I started drinking some whites that were either oaked Chardonnays or something on the sweeter side like a Riesling. Living in San Francisco, where it’s almost never hot, there are few times where something crisp and refreshing was necessary. It was not until my friends threw a picnic in Marin on a hot day and people brought Sauvignon Blanc and Rose and I fell in love. I have been drinking refreshing whites ever since. This 2010 Sauvignon Blanc from San Antonio Valley, a small wine region on the coast of Chile west of Santiago, is ready to drink now. Because of the influence of the Pacific Ocean there is a cooling quality which gives the wine a wonderful acidity and produces very aromatic whites. In Chile and Argentina there are more Organic vineyards than other countries due to the high elevation and locations that naturally have fewer pests. This wine is 100% organic sauvignon blanc grapes which gives it a very clean taste. I taste tropical fruit, great acidity and it has a long elegant finish. This wine pairs will with fish, shellfish or a warm day or evening.
Gustave Lorentz – Cremant D’Alsace
I think bubbles are confusing for a lot of people. There are so many different types and so many different attitudes towards bubbles. Some people just love anything with bubbles in it, whether it’s a Cava – bubbles from Spain, Prosecco – bubbles from Italy, Sparkling – bubbles from anywhere or Champagne – only bubbles from the region in France called Champagne. Bubbles can be made in different methods resulting in different bubble sizes and amount of bubbles per glass and bottle. They are typically made into white wines; however, there are sparkling Rose’s and even a few sparkling reds, think Lambrusco from Italy, a fun treat that Morgan Braxton Wine Society Members will have soon. There are different quality levels of making bubbles: the traditional Champagne method, the Charmat/ Transfer method, and the Carbonation method – in that order. Essentially, the traditional Champagne method is just as it sounds and based on France’s elite sense of pride on everything. This is the original way it is made, it’s the most costly, and arguably produces the best version of bubbles. There is a whole system of how to make and blend wines in batches, only blending them later, have them ferment with yeast in the bottle versus a vat which gives wines made in this method a nuttiness or complexity not found when using the other methods, adding a “dosage” (blend of wine and sugar) later after the spent yeast is removed by hand and so on. It’s labor intensive even though today, machines mostly do this, but it still requires many more steps. Next is the Charmat/ Transfer method, a more simple method where all of these steps are done in a vat and transferred to bottles later. Last is carbonation, simply put the wine is carbonated. Gustave Lorentz is from Alsace, a region in France that borders the upper Rhine region near Germany and Switzerland. What does this mean? It can get really cold in the winter! It has hot dry summers and cold dry winters creating a unique climate for wine. Also this region has gone back and forth between France and Germany four times so it’s a complicated region, but since 1945 its has been a part of France.
This balanced, clean and zesty wine is made from Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir. There is lemon rind on the nose and red fruit on the palate. This wine is made in the traditional champagne method; so when you look at it and taste it, pay attention to the amount of bubbles and the size. Drink to start an evening, indulge at a party, or pair with soft cheese or shellfish.
Koyle Royale – Cab – 2009
This Cabernet Sauvignon is from the Colchugua Valley, one of the three provinces of the central Chilean region. Colchugua Valley is home to the ‘Huaso’ or the Chilean cowboy. This region was also named the worlds best wine region in 2005 by Wine Enthusiast Magazine. It is is a big red wine and you should decant it for 30 minutes prior to drinking.
Koyle Royal is dark purple with round and velvety tannins and a long finish. There are underlying notes of dark chocolate, black pepper and an earthiness with some baking spices. Cody drank this bottle with a steak and loved it.
La Tunella – Friulano
Friulano is a less common varietal as well. To clarify, La Tunella is the brand or producer and Friulano is the grape or varietal. It comes from Colli Orientali DelFriuli up in the northeast part of Italy near Venice. I know this does not mean much since Italy is the most complicated wine country in the world, with the most amount of wines and regions. Adding to this, we haven’t heard of most of the varietals or the places they are from so it really seems like its in a different language. A great fact to take from this is Colli Oriental del Friuli is a sub region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia and is an important wine-producing region in Italy located near Venice.
La Tunella is all hand picked and pressed. Yeast is added to the first fermentation process and then the wine spends time again on the yeast. When this happens its called “sur-lie” aging aka aging on yeast. The wine is stirred to mix around the yeast,which is called “battonage”. This process is similar to the Champagne method we discussed, which adds nuttiness and in this case you should smell and taste a little almond. It’s a beautiful wine with a brilliant straw-yellow color. On the nose there will be almond, pear and wild flowers. The balance of floral and fruity characteristics with a smooth, velvety, moderately acidic, dry palate results in a well-structured, delicious wine, drinkable for many occasions.
Don Valentin Bianchi – Lacrado – 2010
Lacrado is a blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from San Rafael, Mendoza in Argentina. The Mendoza region is considered the heart of the wine making industry in Argentina, producing two-thirds of the all the wine made in Argentina. Mendoza is located in the Eastern foothills of the Andes Mountains spreading into San Rafael in the Southern region. Don Valentin Bianchi Lacrado comes primarily from two estates situated at 2400-2500 feet above sea level, making it one of the coolest areas in San Rafael. Enough geography, lets move onto the wine.
Lacrado has an intense color or ruby red, robust intensity and a perfume like nose. Its velvety smooth, complex with an array of flavors and has a medium-long finish. Pair it with meat, turkey, chicken and strong cheeses to fully enjoy everything this wine has to offer.
Luca Bosio – Barbera d’Asti D.O.C.G. – 2011
Barbera is the varietal produced in Asti, a region in Piedmont residing in the Northwest part of Italy. The DOC and DOCG labeling means it passed another level of certification from the government so it is considered more exclusive and regulated. There are acronyms all over Europe: the more letters the labeling has indicates increased importance. In case you were wondering, D.O.C.G. stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita and it just so happens to be the most important DOCG for Barbera D’Asti in Piedmont, which is where this wine comes from! Barbera is the third most widely planted Italian red grape. Some places in California are making Barbera as well, but its popularity has yet to blossom in the states.
Luca Bosio is 100% Barbera from vineyards located in Castagnole Lanze and Costigliole d’Asti, which are 200-330 ft. above sea level. These grapes come from very specific regions and in this instance they happen to be in amazing locations. This wine is a great representation of a typical Barbera from D’Asti. When you figure out its subtle nuances, your palette should taste ample red fruit, cherry, tar, mild chocolate flavors. Its silky tannins make it a smooth easy drinking red.
Real Compañía – Tempranillo – 2009
A lot of people have not heard of Tempranillo or don’t drink it much, and I think we should put an end to that nonsense. Tempranillo is to Spain as Cabernet Sauvignon is to Napa, but you can stretch your dollar much further with this grape. It is possible to spend a fortune, but for every day wines, this grape contains great value. Tempranillo, coming from the word temprano, defined as “early” in Spanish. It inherited its name because it ripens several weeks earlier than other Spanish grapes. The varietal is native to Spain, considered the Nobel grape of the region, and is the main grape used in Rioja.
Real Compañía is from the Manchuela region located in mid-central Spain 2300 ft above sea level. The area has cold winters, warm summers and the soil is red, calcareous and stony. The vines range from 30-70 years old, harvested and hand selected. This wine was made in stainless steal achieving an optimum aroma, color and tannin extraction. You will get an intense red cherry color with bluish hints, vivid and very fruity aromas of blackberries, red currants, cherries and black licorice.
This Tempranillo has good structure, is well rounded, very fruity with a long finish. Pair it with rice dishes, paella, pasta, meats, or enjoy it with light appetizers.
Valentín Bianchi – Malbec – 2010
This winery is a 3rd generation, family owned winery originating in 1928. It is notorious throughout Argentina for producing outstanding wines. This grape also comes from Mendoza, which is located in the Eastern foothills of the Andes Mountain and San Rafael in the Southern part. Malbec originated in France and is one of the six blending grapes used in Bordeaux. It is grown in regions other than Bordeaux, France, but with only a few exceptions is always blended in France. Contrarily in Argentina, it stands alone and is their most famous grape to date. It is a thin-skinned grape that requires more heat and sun than many other reds do in order to ripen properly. Malbecs are usually an inky red or violet intense wine and pair well with food since they inhabit a big bold nature.
Valentín Bianchi is all estate grown coming from the Doña Elsa Estate in Ram Caída, San Rafael, Mendoza at 750 meters above sea level with sandy calcareous soil of alluvial origins. The grapes were handpicked and fermented with the skins. The juice was drained, pressed and went through auto clarifying racks and then spent 6 months in French and American Oak barrels. The end product has a deep purple color with aromas of ripe plums, cherries, hints of vanilla and coffee. The flavors simulate the aromas with a powerful yet elegant mouth feel followed by a long finish. This wine has endless options for pairing, but make sure its something with a lot of flavor (think rich meats and cheeses).