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New Chile Pequeños Tasting - Houston

"Long and thin it will always remain, 
but Chile is packing a lot of excitement into such a confined space." ~ Tim Atkins, M.W. 

The quote above summarizes the message from the Wines of Chile seminar at the New Chile Pequeños Tasting in Houston last month delivered by Master Sommelier candidate Steven McDonald. 

The excitement stems from Chile beginning to more fully utilize its  diverse range of soils and climates to push the country's viticultural limits. If you think the country only produces wines from its signature grape,  Carménère, it is time for you to rethink Chilean wine. 75% of all the grapes grown are red but there are a range of different varieties being produced. 

This tasting focused on site specific artisan wines from cooler high elevation terroirs.  These unique growing areas support specific varieties more easily and contribute to the purity of style.

The wine:

Aquitania Sol de Sol 2014 - This 100% Chardonnay wine was sourced from a cold southern vineyard area in the Malleco Valley which has a climate similar to Oregon with clay and granite soils. It spent 8 months in French Oak barrels with twice weekly lees stirring and no racking. Interesting, refreshing, creamy with medium body, medium + acidity with lemon, mushroom and a light mineral finish. SRP $35

Casa Silva Los Lingues 2014 -From the Colchagua Valley, this 100% Carménère wine is sourced from 14 year old vines planted at an elevation of 1475 feet on stony clay soil. Each vineyard block is vinified separately with aging in oak barrels for 10-12 months for 80% of the wine. McDonald discussed the careful farming required to get the most out of what he referred to as "a tricky grape." Spicy and fruity with raspberry jam, pink peppercorn and a bit of leather with a medium + body and medium acidity and tannins with a smooth red fruit finish. SRP $20

Garcés Silva Amayna 2013 - This sustainable  100% Pinot Noir from the Leyda Valley was grown on decomposed granite with alluvial stones and calcium deposits. The wine was fermented in stainless steel and was aged for 12 months in French oak, of which 15% was new. Blueberries, blackberries and a bit of an oxidized quality on the nose with a cranberry and licorice flavor and a slight nuttiness in the finish. SRP $35

De Martino Gallardia 2016 - This Cinsault is from the Itata Valley where it was dry-farmed on its original rootstock on granite soil. It underwent a short semi-carbonic maceration and was fermented with native yeasts. Fresh and fruity with a medium body, medium + acidity and pomegranate aromas and flavors, McDonald commented "it has a naturalness, a crunchy underripe quality that I like." SRP $19.99

Maquis Franco 2010 - From the Colchagua Valley, this 100% Cabernet Franc is sustainably grown on alluvial soils over a layer of gravel. The wine is then aged in French oak barrels for 14 months creating a full bodied ripe red with medium + fine grained tannins, medium acidity with raspberry aromas and flavors, a slight minty note and a lingering finish. SRP $85

Calcu Futa 2010 - This sustainably produced 100% Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from granitic and clay soils in the Colchagua Valley. It spent 18 months in French oak barrels creating a fresh, structured, well-balanced full bodied red with floral aromas, blackberry and raspberry aromas and flavors, chewy tannins, medium + acidity and a light touch of vanilla in the long finish. SRP $65

All the wines are highly recommended; they are unique, delicious and reflective of the diverse terroir of Chile!

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