Chile and Argentina

This week’s tasting will feature an outstanding selection from Chile and Argentina. Many of these wines are brand-new to the Spirits selection. Specifically there will be two whites- a Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc, and four reds- two Malbecs, a Cabernet Sauvignon and blend of Cabernet, Carmenere, Malbec and Syrah.

Some of the wines received nice reviews (the renowned Achaval Ferrer Malbec 2011 was awarded 92 points and a Smart Buys designation from the Wine Spectator), but they are all varietally correct and present excellent value and quality. We hope you will join us for a great tasting this Thursday!

Bodegas Graffigna– “Established in 1870, Graffigna has the honor of being the oldest winery in San Juan and the second oldest winery in Argentina. The Graffigna Centenario Pinot Grigio has its origin in the Tulúm Valley in San Juan located at 2.066 ft above sea level. This remote, unspoiled area is home to a highly unique terroir.”

Bodegas Graffigna Centenario Pinot Grigio Reserve 2011– San Juan, Argentina. 100% Pinot Grigio. Light in color with a pleasant aroma of peaches, apricot, and nectarine. It is textured on the palate with juicy acidity and nice complexity. Some lime and mineral suggestions are present on the slightly tart finish. “Elegant, harmonious and delicate, full of fresh flower and fruit aromas, this young, aromatic and subtle wine is the product of the utmost care and exclusive treatment. Hints of jasmine and notes of white fruits like peach and apricot, with a refined finish.” Tasting $14.99

Concha y Toro– “In the early stages of wine industry development in Chile, local politician and businessman Don Melchor Concha y Toro brought noble French grapevines from the Bordeaux region to plant at Pirque in the Maipo Valley. Following the death of Don Melchor in 1892, his son, Juan Enrique Concha Subercaseaux, became General Manager and turned Concha y Toro into limited company. In 1957 prominent businessman, Eduardo Guilisasti Tagle joined the company’s board of directors. He was a director, general manager and finally, from 1971 to 1998, Chairman of the Company. Through his vision Concha y Toro managed to boost its overseas sales, underpinning subsequent Company growth.”

“Gran Reserva Serie Riberas is a special selection selection of Gran Reserva wines coming from vineyards located close to different river basins. This translates into unique, distinctive fresher wines. The line comprises five red varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Syrah, Merlot and Malbec) and two whites (Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc).”

Robert Parker says- “Cocha y Toro is the largest wine producer in Chile as the above list attests. Remarkably, they are also one of the quality leaders and innovators leading the country forward. The Gran Reserva Serie are wines made from a single vineyard meant to display a particular terroir.”

Concha y Toro Sauvignon Blanc Gran Reserva 2011– Ucuquer Vineyard, Ribera del Rapel, Colchagua D.O., Rapel Valley, Chile. 100% Sauvignon Blanc that aged for 6 months in stainless steel tank prior to bottling. Inviting scents of spring flowers, herbs, lime and licorice hints are savory and enticing. The palate is lean, dry and acidic with wet stone and mineral flavors that linger on the finish. “Colour: Bright straw-yellow. Nose: Citrus fruits and mineral notes. Palate: Fresh, long, and intense.” Tasting $14.99

Concha y Toro Cabernet Sauvignon Gran Reserva 2009– Palo Santo Vineyard, Ribera del Tinguiririca, Marchigue D.O., Colchagua Valley, Chile. A blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Carmenere that aged for 14 months in a combination of French and American medium-toast barrels. Deep scents of toasted oak/coconut, cassis and plum fruits and chocolate undertones greet the nose. The palate presents good depth of flavor and nice balance of acid and gentle tannin. “Color: Deep red. Nose: Intense aromas of black fruits, plums, cherries, chocolate, and cassis. Palate: Concentrated, with sweet tannins. Red fruit flavors. Good structure and density.” 89 Wine Advocate- “The 2009 Riberas Cabernet Sauvignon… offers up an initially reticent nose of cedar, tobacco, spice box, violets, and black currant. This sets the stage for a wine with layered fruit, savory, spicy flavors, excellent volume, and a lengthy, pure finish. This excellent value can be approached now but will drink nicely for another 5-6 years.” Tasting $14.99

Antigal Winery and Estates– “The structure and historic winery was built in 1897 but since has been updated and remodeled respecting its original, colonial appearance… with the latest wine making technology. Bodega Antigal produces its wine based on a classic winemaking process which is distinguished by refridgerated grape storage rooms, bottling in an aseptic chamber, and gravitational flow system.”

Bodegas Antigal Malbec “Uno” 2009– Mendoza, Argentina. Barrel-aged for 8 months in French and American oak. Pretty garnet, brick red in color with a nice perfume of berry fruits and sweet flowers. Spicy, robust flavors within a medium-bodied, textured framework, marry with juicy acidity and fresh fruits. A great value. “A one-of-a-kind Malbec whose luscious black and red berry fruit is brightened by natural acidity and supported by firm but ripe tannins. The wine’s unique personality reflects the outstanding quality of grapes hand-harvested from our vineyards high on the Andes foothills; its smoothness and purity of flavor evince the gentleness of gravity-flow winemaking… cedar and vanilla-spices notes [carry through] to a lingering finish.” Tasting $12.99

Vina MontGras– “The beautifully neat vineyards of MontGras, in the locality of Palmilla, Colchagua, VI Region of Chile, represent the concrete testimony of the development and the desire to do things right that have always characterized the Gras brothers, Hernán and Eduardo, along with partner Cristián Hartwig.

Inspired by Hernán Gras, who has a brilliant winemaking trajectory in Canada, along with the entrepreneurial vision of his brother Eduardo and Hartwig’s pragmatic businesses view, who comes from a winemaking family and who in addition has strong bonds with Colchagua, joined together to give to life to Viña MontGras in 1993, the first project of MontGras Properties.

MontGras, that has always had state-of-the-art technology in all its processes, set out from its conception to be the winery with the best premium wine from Chile.”

Vina MontGras Quatro 2011– Colchagua Valley, Chile. A blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Carmenere, 15% Malbec and 10% Syrah that aged for 10 months in oak. Sweet fruits on the nose are offset with oak and vanilla notes and savory suggestions of leather and spice. The palate is textured with layered flavors of sweet cherry-berry fruit and cola, followed by a lush finish. “Aromas: Loads of blackberry complemented with touches of spice, cedar and vanilla from the oak ageing. Flavors: A lot of ripe black fruit flavours and ripe, sweet tannins that give this wine power, balance and a lingering, charming finish.” 87 Wine Advocate- “… this particular blend tends to cancel out the virtues of each grape variety, so that the nose is “correct” but lacking personality. The palate is well balanced with black cherries, peppermint, sage and a touch of mocha towards the pleasant finish. Drink now-2016.” Tasting $14.99

Achaval Ferrer– “Our estates are located in the province of Mendoza between 700 and 1.100 meters above sea level. This region offers privileged soil conditions, weather and irrigation, optimal for growing Malbec. Wide temperature changes (warm days and cool nights), desert-like climate, poor soil composition and irrigation waters from the pristine snowmelt off the Andes encourage the maturation process of grapes which converts into wines with character, profound structure and complexity.”

Robert Parker says- “Achaval Ferrer should need no introduction to anyone with a passing interest in Argentinean wine, a paradigm of how far the country has progressed over the last decade. In 2011, founders Santiago Achaval and Manuel Ferrer sold a large percentage of shares to the SPI group that owns Stolichnaya vodka as well as shares in Tenuto d’Ornellaia and Frescobaldi, although both Ferrer and Achaval remain on the managing board. Instead of visiting the winery (which I intend to do in the future), I tasted wines past and present with Santiago in London, where I was afforded more time to plot the wine’s development in the glass. The tasting was no revelation, since I have encountered and appreciated the wines for many years. They are well-crafted, very pure and stylistically equidistant between Old World and New. My reviews will seem meaner and the scores more parsimonious than might be anticipated. It simply reflects where I see the wines in the context of such a comprehensive overview of a dynamic country – great wines for sure and very consistent, but perhaps others have stepped up their game? The older vintages have certainly held up well, although a demanding connoisseur would expect more in the way of secondary aromas and flavors to replace the lost primary ones.”

Achaval Ferrer Malbec 2011– Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina. 100% Malbec. 92 Smart Buys Wine Spectator- “Very pure, with a beam of raspberry coulis, blackberry and cherry pulp notes that pump out layers of spice, flint and wildflowers. Juicy yet structured, with a mineral edge to the long, savory finish. Drink now through 2015.” 89 Wine Advocate- “The 2011 Malbec is sourced from Perdriel, Uco and Medrano from vines located at around 900m altitude. The wine is fermented in cement tanks and raised in third use French barrel for 11 months. The nose demands a little coaxing from the glass, but eventually reveals a crisp, pointed nose of black fruit laced with bell pepper that is well-defined, awakening with each swirl of the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with a taut, crisp entry. The tannins are bold and ripe, although it needs a little more weight of fruit towards the back end, a little more “girth.” Still, this is a well-crafted, accomplished, entry-level Malbec – a perfect introduction to the genre. Drink now-2017.” Tasting $26.99

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