Those visiting Miguel Torres Chile‘s charming little restaurant spot, but without bringing a requisite sense of winemaking history along with their appetites, are likely to come away thinking that this pioneering Spanish wine brand’s foray into Chile consists of some tasty juice and really good food, the end.
In the infamous words of the USA’s 45th president (who, incidentally, was elected to that office the night before I arrived at Miguel Torres Chile during a media tour):
Admittedly, the wine biz (spectacularly) overuses the concept of context, but Miguel Torres Chile is legitimately a brand that has to be experienced in context for it to make sense.
In 1855, Jaime Torres headed to Cuba and, a mere fifteen years later, returned to Spain stinking rich from time spent in the trade and oil businesses. The Torres family then began a successful wine business in the Penedès, and, in what I am guessing was the manifestation of Torres’ large-scale dreams, built the largest wine vat in the world. Everything went up in smoke during the Spanish Civil War, and it was after rebuilding that things started to get really interesting. The Torres clan eventually went on to pioneer mich of what we’d now consider normal winemaking in Spain, including the planting of international grape varieties, temperature controlled vinification, and the use of French oak barrels.
Fast forward to the present day, and you’ve got fourth generation family member Miguel A. Torres, a chemist by education and an author of several wine books, overseeing much of the family business (including giving approval to the final blends for some of the Chilean wines, to the point where samples sometimes have to be sent to him to taste in Spain)…
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For those of you not (yet!) following along with my Northern Italian gig at My Name is Barbera, the second installment in the video series there is now available.
In this episode, I talk about the dreaded “T” word – terroir – with respect to the unique landscape of the region, to the backdrop of what you will see is one of the more beautiful wine-growing locations on planet Earth (see inset pic above for a sense of scope/scale/beauty/landscape-diversity).
I also squint. A lot. I’m blaming the sunshine. And the majesty of the surroundings. And maybe a lack of coffee at the time of filming. But I’m not blaming excessive Barbera consumption…
Anyway, you can check out the vid below, and head over to the My Name is Barbera website proper for my more long-form takes on the region, as well as articles written by European wine scribe Anton Moiseenko.
Monferrato Moves 2: Terroir Monferrato
On Valentine’s Day last week, Fix.com published, appropriately, what amounts to my little Valentine to what might be the red-headed-step-child of dessert wines right now, Ice Wine.
Hell, even the once-totally-ignored sweet Sherries are cooler now than Ice Wine (see what I did there?).
Personally, I have a sweet tooth, which probably explains my borderline-obsession with the dessert section of the fine wine store shelves. Ice wine is the kind of thing over which wine geeks have wet dreams: it’s unique, intense, and usually only available in tiny quantities because it’s such a pain in the friggin’ ass to produce well. Actually, I think that you might need to be at least a little bit insane – like, not-quite-normal, a-little-touched-in-the-head, sure-I’ll-play-ice-hockey-goalie or sure-I’ll-be-a-rock-drummer insane – to actually want to harvest grapes for ice wine.
The short-shrift given to Ice Wine, even in some of the most storied wine books, kind of fills me with an unhealthy rage (it’s okay, I’m over it). The closest thing that I’ve found to my feelings regarding the stuff – particularly the Canadian stuff – in written equivalent comes from Karen MacNeil’s The Wine Bible (which I hope she doesn’t mind me quoting here):
“…the greatest Canadian icewines posses an almost otherworldly contrapuntal tension between acidity and sweetness, making drinking them an ethereal sensation. That’s saying it in an intellectual way. But here’s the kin-in-you version: You’ll want to lick the bowl.”
It’s exactly right; she’s exactly right.
It’s not often that you get a combination of such intense, pure fruit expression, sugar, and raging acid. Those only come by way of the world’s best dessert wine experiences, in which I would unabashedly the best offerings of icewines from the nation of Terrence and Phillip, and the eiswines of Germany and Austria. The northern U.S. territories making Ice/Iced Wines probably aren’t quiiiiiite there yet, but they are catching up quickly, and are absolutely quick studies. And don’t laugh too much at the dessert wines made from artificially frozen grapes, folks, because I’ve had a spate of them lately that would make you rethink writing off some of those beauties.
The infographic summary of the article is available below after the jump, but there’s quite a bit of text for you to scan quickly on your phone while pretending to be reading it, covering the difference between Ice Wine and Iced Wine in the USA, Eiswein in Germany versus that of Austria, and testifying my love of the glorious Icewines of the Great White North.
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