Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Chile: A Brave New World Tasting

WASP (Wine Appreciation Society, Penrith), Roundthorn Country House Hotel, Penrith. Thursday 24-November-2022.

Our third WASP tasting. This time we knew to have something to eat before the tasting. Although there is a buffet at the end all that wine on an empty stomach can make one squiffy!

The presenter was Piers Mortimer from Corney and Barrow, independent wine merchants. Piers, it would seem is a regular presenter here and well known to many of the audience. He started in wine while working at the North Lakes Hotel about 30 years ago and held various positions in the hospitality trade before moving to Corney and Barrow about 15 years ago.

The tasting measures are a precisely poured 50 cl rather than relying on the skill and steadiness of the pourer.

Notes interspersed with snippets of info:

Villarrica Sauvignon Blanc 2019 (White, 12.5%, £8.50).
A mass produced wine available in a variety of supermarkets, often under an own label. Presented here as a baseline from which to help assess the others, an easy drinking wine that does not necessarily need food.

  • Some oak? Fruit on the nose.
  • Fresh, acidic, citrus, pleasant/refreshing flavours
  • Good acidity on aftertaste.

Le Moscatel Massoc Freres 2018 (White, 14%, £13.95)
Many grapes are known by alternative names in Chile. The Massoc brothers went out to Chile in 2015 as N√©gociant-√Čleveur working with the local growers to select and vinify grapes produced on 80 year old vines.

  • Pleasantly sharp, minerally, green nose
  • Good balance and texture, some body, fresh acidity, apricot/peach flavours
  • Good acidity on aftertaste, fruity.

Ascension Chardonnay Maturana Wines 2021 (Orange, 13.5%, £16.50). A "natural" wine with extended skin contact to give the orange tint. Apparently good with black pudding and scallops. Different to the chardonnays we are used to, the pink tinge and slight cloudiness could be off-putting but we appreciated the flavours.

  • Peachy, slight chemical, peach kernels. Pink tint
  • Peach, some acidity, minerally
  • Some length.

Naranjo Torontel Loncomilla Maturana Wines 2021 (Orange, 13.5%, £16.50 p)
Top Tip: with a wax capsule, do not try and remove the wax, simply open the bottle with a corkscrew as you would normally and pull the cork up through the wax.
Chilean wine making has been influenced by a succession of rulers: the Spanish conquistadors followed by the Jesuit missionaries, followed by the French after Napoleon invaded Spain and installed his brother Joseph as the King of Spain leading eventually to Chile independence in 1810.
As above, a curious colour, definitely a food wine. Recommended to drink with lobster bisque.

  • Appley, cabbage, metallic
  • Similar flavours and nose, smoky, metallic, good acidity, sweet/dry taste
  • Good, acidity, and flavour, smoky on aftertaste.

Panul Merlot Vinedos Marchigue 2021 (Red, 13%, £8.95)
The 1980s and 1990s saw the introduction of flying winemakers from France, bringing their expertise in to the Chilean wine industry to improve quality. Prediction: expect to see a move towards higher quality in Chile, and a growth in mass produced wine from China and India [which have land in the right latitudes]. We thought this was a lovely, soft, fruity wine and fantastic value.

  • Mahogany in colour
  • Mellow nose: metallic, slight vegetal
  • Smoky, good balance, soft tannins, some grip. 
  • Good length.

Polemico Pais Vina Laurent 2021 (Red, 13.5%, £13.50)
A Chilean wife and French husband producing 300,000 bottles per annum (compare Cloudy Bay who produce 2 million bottles!).

  • Light colour
  • Slight cherry, light, slight toffee
  • Light, faint cherry, slight perfumed, slight coffee, slight metallic, fine texture. 
  • Good aftertaste.

Licanten Cabernet Franc Idahue Estate La Ronciere 2018 (Red, 14%, £14.95)
Idaho Valley. Good with lamb. One reason Herdwick lambs are tasty is that they eat grass and are not fed on swede like lowland flocks. This one was well liked by all at our table.

  • Deeper, more closed nose, dark fruit
  • Rich dark fruit, some oak, soft, good texture, tannins.
  • Good length.

Arboleda Pinot Noir 2020 (Red, 13.5%, £17.50). Cool climate. Mary liked the flavours and elegance of this wine - akin to cool climate New Zealand pinots.

  • Vegetal, metallic, rich
  • Good, acidity, balance, texture, dry on palate, red fruit, metallic
  • Good aftertaste.

Another excellent and informative tasting. I realise that I need to read up on the geology of Chile to learn what kinds of rocks and soil they have.

Finding taxis to ferry us to and from the venue proved impossible so we drove up, abandoned the car and walked home. The next morning I taxied up and retrieved the car.

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