A few weeks ago, I had an opportunity to take part in a Chilean wine tasting with several other wine bloggers around the country. It was a virtual tasting, meaning that we were connected “virtually” not that we virtually tasted… we really did taste the wines. But we were connected via a web conference with all the other bloggers participating and with the winemakers in Chile. I’ve done a few of these before, and it’s always an interesting way to taste and learn about a few new wines.
The theme for this tasting was “cool climate reds,” which means red wines produced in cool climate regions. You see, some grape varieties perform better with cool conditions versus hot. And some just perform differently. In this tasting, it was pinot noir and syrah. Pinot noir is exclusively a cool climate variety, as too much heat ruins these grapes. Syrah, on the other hand, can be produced in cool or warmer climates, but the results are different.
Some of the best wine growing regions are coastal, like Chile, and the cool, maritime influence is big part of what makes these regions good for growing wine grapes. But there is a lot of variation in climate within these regions, creating some areas that are better, consistent cool climate regions as well as some warmer micro-climates. For a number of years, Chile has had a good reputation for producing exceptional cool-climate white wines, but it’s really only been within the last five years or so that they’ve done well with cool-climate reds, like pinot noir. And there’s certainly more to come.
Given the setting for this tasting, these were not tasted blind. Here are my notes.
Valdivieso 2009 Pinot Noir Reserva
The nose is pretty powerful on this wine. Spicy cherry and strawberry aromas are the first thing that stand out. It also has some bacon fat and cola aromatics. The palate provides a good amount of fruit, without being at all jammy. It’s kind of a cherry/cranberry thing with a touch of smoked meat on the palate. The acidity is just right and the soft tannins provide a nice mouth feel. The finish is relatively long, with a strong cranberry note.
Wine: Valdivieso Reserva
Variety: Pinot Noir
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Viña Casablanca 2009 Nimbus Estate Pinot Noir
This wine shows the smoky and spicy side of pinot noir on the nose, with nutmeg, cocoa, and toasted aromatics. There’s some fruit under all that too, but the spice is what makes the music on this one. Unfortunately, there’s also a touch of sulfur/egg on the nose, which isn’t a good thing, although it’s not overwhelming. On the palate, the fruit comes out to play, offering plum and raspberry flavors. But there’s plenty of spice on the palate, with a nice black pepper characteristic. There’s some cocoa on the mid-palate too. The acidity and tannins are good. Aside from the sulfur, is a fun pinot.
Wine: Viña Casablanca Nimbus Estate
Variety: Pinot Noir
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Veramonte 2009 Ritual Pinot Noir
This is a nice, earthy pinot noir with intense tree bark and truffle aromas. It also shows plenty of cherry and a touch of cola fragrance. The palate is filled with cherry and cranberry flavors with vibrant acidity. The palate also gives a touch of spiciness. The tannins are slightly velvety in the mouth. The finish is long, with lingering fruit and spice. This is a great wine.
Wine: Veramonte Ritual
Variety: Pinot Noir
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Cono Sur 2008 Ocio Pinot Noir
The nose of this wine is screaming with intensity. The fruit on the nose is a bit darker than a lot of other pinot we’ve had, favoring cassis and blackberry. There’s some red fruit in it too, cherry. It has a nice smoky quality on the nose too, with notes of sandalwood and tobacco. The palate offers concentrated cherry and blackberry flavors, with outstanding acidity. It borders on jammy. The finish is lasting with the powerful fruit and spice from the palate taking you for a long ride. This is an exceptional, although somewhat pricey, wine.
Wine: Cono Sur Ocio
Variety: Pinot Noir
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Tamaya 2009 Reserva Syrah
The first impression I got from the nose of this wine is bubblegum. But it’s not overly sweet/artificial, there’s just a hint of that fragrance in the nose. It also shows some red currant, pepto bismol and licorice aromas. The palate has plenty of ripe cherry and raspberry flavors and a good bit of spice.
Wine: Tamaya Reserva
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Loma Larga 2006 Syrah
This wine has a nice, deep red color. The nose is very earthy, with aromas of eucalyptus, leather, chocolate, grilled meat and raspberry. The mouth feel is really nice. Very velvety. The palate offers loads of ripe blackberry and currant flavors, that are slightly jammy. It gives a little white pepper kick in the mid palate and finishes with more of the fruit. This wine is begging to be served with lamb. I like this wine, but the eucalyptus aroma may be a turn off for some consumers.
Wine: Loma Larga
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Undurraga 2009 T.H. Syrah
The “T.H.” on the label of this wine, stands for “terroir hunter” and this is a single-vineyard syrah, produced with the goal of featuring the terroir in the expression of the wine. The intensity on the nose of this wine is outstanding. It has loads of red fruit, raspberry, cherry and red currants. It also has some black pepper and soy sauce characteristics adding to the complexity. The palate has a vibrant acidity with concentrated cherry and raspberry flavors. There’s plenty of spice on the palate of this one too. It also has some soft tannins, rounding out the mouth feel. It’s a tasty wine.
Wine: Undurraga T.H.
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Hacienda Araucano 2009 Reserva Syrah
Cherry, raspberry and grilled meat aromas make up the nose of this wine. The intensity on the nose is good, but not overwhelming. This is a big wine on the palate, filling every crevasse in your mouth with flavors. Plum, chocolate and leather all combine to make a interesting palate. The mouth feel is very good. This is a big wine with a lot of flavor, but it’s not refined or integrated. Still, it’s a tasty wine.
Wine: Hacienda Araucano Reserva
Disclosure: These wines were received as a sample.