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5 Reasons Why Chilean Wine Kicks Ass (Wine Blogging Wednesday #52: Chillin’ with the Chilean)

Vinted on December 10, 2008 binned in wine blogging wednesday, wine review

Hard to believe that an entire month has passed since we hosted Wine Blogging #51 (“Baked Goods”) here on 1WineDude.com.

But passed it has, and another WBW is now upon us – this time hosted at CheapWineRatings.com, with the theme “Value Reds from Chile!”

I am stoked for this WBW. Because Chilean wines, for the most part, kick all kinds of ass.

I recently featured a Chilean stalwart, Concha y Toro’s 2007 “Casillero del Diablo” Chardonnay Reserve, as part of an article I posted at the 89 Project. Because it kicked ass (I mean that the wine kicked ass, not the article… actually you could also take that sentence to mean that the 89 Project kicks ass, which it does… ah, forget it….).

Which begs the question, of course, Why does Chilean wine kick so much gluteus maximus?

Here are 5 reasons:…

  1. Ass-Kickin’ Geography
    You’d be hard-pressed to find a better place to grow fine wine grapes than Chile. Sure, they grow plenty of the lowly Mission grape destined for cheap
    Pisco [editor's note: wrong, Jack! Mission isn't used for Pisco!]. But Chile is also starting to realize its huge potential to grow classic Bordeaux varietals. Chile’s wine regions are varied in climate and soil types, giving it a diversity in quality wine that few other countries posses. That nasty pest Phylloxera is nowhere to be found, because it faces natural borders to the north (desert), south (ice), west (the Pacific), and east (the Andes).

Cool air from the mountains, as well as the influence of the Pacific’s Humboldt current moderate the growing temperatures, while plentiful water from the Andes provides irrigation. Grapes love this place.

  • More investment smarties than Warren Buffett
    Since opening its agricultural doors to the outside world in the 1980s, Chile has seen an influx of winemaking smarties and significant fiscal investment from wine companies far and wide. This means that Chile is getting a state-of-the art crash-course in modern winemaking and viticultural techniques, which benefits the wine.
  • Set the Wayback Machine for the late 19th Century…
    When the nasty pest Phylloxera was devastating the fine wine vineyards of, well, the entire world, many a European brought winemaking know-how – and, importantly, vine clippings – to Chile.Since Chile never had Phylloxera mucking about, it never had to resort to using grafting (onto American rootstocks) for its imported vinifera vines to survive and thrive. This means that Chilean wine is a bit like a trip back in time to the mid 19th century, because (theoretically) they taste like, well, wine from ungrafted vines. Presumably, not unlike what wine would have tasted like in the pre-Phylloxera days.
  • Ass-kickin’ quality
    Chile has lots of interesting wines across the entire price spectrum (a high-end Chilean wine recently garnered Wine Spectator’s 2008 wine of the year accolade), but it’s nearly perfected the cheap, mass-market wine offering (more on that in a bit).
  • Ass-kickin’ prices
    You can get a decent everyday quaffer from Chile for under $10 USD. I will assume further comment on this point is entirely unnecessary. But I will add that the concept seems to be popular in the U.S. – according to WinesOfChile.org, Americans consumed nearly 1.9 million cases of Chilean wine in 2007, and that was just in NY, FL, and NJ alone!

 

My example of Chilean value red is Concha y Toro’s Xplorador Merlot. You can regularly find this wine for well under $10. It’s from the Central Valley (good area in Chile, not so great in CA), and I really dig the fact that it’s got 10% Carménère (which seems to reach unique excellence in Chile), and is under 14% abv.

The wine is all plum and thyme spice. Is it complex? No. Is it good? Hell yes, for $8 it’s damn good. Amazingly, Concha y Toro seems to be able to make consistently good and cheap wine year on year, which is something that SouthEastern Australia’s equivalent mass-market wine, Yellowtail, has yet to master.

Tasty, fairly well-balanced, and ultra-inexpensive. Hard to argue with that.

BUT… Chile has a LOT more to offer than just value reds - more to come on that in an upcoming post.

Cheers!
(flickr.com/bridgepix, winesofchile.org, snooth.com)

…And They All Got Baked… (Wine Blogging Wednesday #51 Wrap-Up)

Vinted on November 17, 2008 binned in wine blogging wednesday

Wow.

To say that I was impressed by the energy, turn out, and quality of the Wine Blogging Wednesday #51 participant posts would be an understatement.

Sort of like saying that the Grand Canyon is a minor geological anomaly. That kind of understatement.

To be perfectly honest, I was dreading (somewhat) having to carve out the time to read each entry for the event. That dread quickly turned into anticipation as my perceived labor became a labor of love.

And that is entirely due to the high quality of your posts – for those who participated, I can’t thank you enough.

Once again, Wine Blogging Wednesday drew participants from varied backgrounds, different areas of wine-world involvement, multiple countries, and represented nearly the entire spectrum of wine expertise…

For those who didn’t participate, below you are links to some great reads on a wine category that gets precious little attention these days – fortified wines – but whose expression can be just as sublime and enchanting as any of the typical, more attention-grabbing styles (for an excellent primer on some of this, check out K2’s Madeira overview at the Wine Blog).

If you’re still skeptical as to the power, finesse, and quality of baked / madeirized / oxidized / fortified wines, witness these two posts from two venerable and long-standing wine bloggers:

If that doesn’t convince you, then you’re probably not paying attention.

Following are links to the other fine articles from the event’s participants, roughly in the order I received them.

Some revisited old faves, others tried something new, and many, many of them were pleasantly surprised by what sweet and fortified wines had to offer. If you’re thinking of taking a plunge into the world of kick-ass fortified wines, you’d do well to read these posts as they offer a great summary of what’s available to you on the market.

If you participated in WBW #51 and I didn’t link to you below, please accept my apology in advance and leave me a comment here so I can rectify the situation!

In case any further proof is needed that WBW #51, in the words of Gary Vaynerchuk, “totally CRUSHED it,” and also stomped it, killed it, and ripped off it’s head to feast upon its supple eye jelly (sorry Gary, couldn’t resist that one either), check out the way-cool WBW #51 mention on Wine Biz Radio – you can listen to the raw TalkShoe recording below, or download the entire show.

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Cheers!
(images: 1WineDude.com gpb.org)

Wine Blogging Wednesday #51: "Baked Goods"

Vinted on November 12, 2008 binned in best of, wine blogging wednesday, wine review


Welcome to Wine Blogging Wednesday #51(WineDude)!
Dude here is hosting the 51st edition of the venerable WBW, and today’s theme is Baked Goods – reviews of wines that are deliberately heated (aka “Madeirized”), and we’re also allowing reviews of sweet Fortified wines to be included. For the scoop on how Wine Blogging Wednesday works, check out the WBW site. More details on the background of the theme can be found here.

Now… let’s get this funk started!

I love Madeira. Love is a strong word. And I love Madeira.

It’s often sweet, incredibly tasty, high in refreshing acidity, and because it’s already been exposed to oxygen and heat (which would utterly destroy normal wines), it’s virtually indestructible.

A Madeira wine from 1935 will pretty much taste the same today as it did in 1935, even if opened and enjoyed tablespoon by luscious tablespoon from then until now. Not only is it tasty, indestructible, and food-friendly, it also boasts an abv of 19% or more. It’s a bad-ass wine!…

Normally, I’d expound on the storied history of Madeira, and give you background on the traditional styles of Madeira, food pairings, etc.

But…

Rather than take you through the history of Madeira wine – which I figured might be covered by one or more of the other fine WBW participants anyway (and if not can easily be found in detailed play-by-play on the web) – I thought I’d instead show you, by way of comparison, just how bad-ass Madeira actually is.

Let’s compare kick-ass, indestructible Madeira to the so-called “Invincible” IRON MAN:

The
“Invincible” IRON MAN

Totally Kick-Ass

Indestructible Madeira


Abilities

Superhuman strength, Repulsor-ray technology, Genius-level intellect

Intense aroma

, Mouth-watering acidity

, Ass-kicking 19%+ abv
Edge: Madeira

Protection

Bullet-proof, temperature-resistant armorTIE

Impervious to hot ovens, attic temperatures, and long, perilous sea voyages

– TIE

Creator

Stan Lee

The Dutch Armada


Edge: Madeira

Nemesis

The Mandarin
, Alcoholism
, Soft spot for Pepper Pots
, Very large magnets

Edge: IRON MAN

Cork Taint


Tastes Like

Metal alloy

Nuts, caramel, dried figs. -
Edge: Madeira

Result of
Oxidation

Rust

Characteristics of nuts and honey

Edge: Madeira

No contest: Madeira totally trumps IRON MAN, 5-2.

Anyway, traditional Madeira comes in four flavors of grapes, each chosen to highlight a particular style of the wine, examples of which I tasted in comparison (witness below).


Notice how the color of each wine gets darker? This is a key to the style, which range from dry and nutty to lusciously sweet and caramely (is that a word…?):

Blandy’s Dry Sercial (Aged 5 Years in oak): Made from the Sercial grape, grown in the cooler high-altitude regions of the Madeira island. Sherry-like, nutty (almonds, baby!) with searing acidity. Pass the hors d’oeuvres!

Blandy’s 5 Year Vedelho: Made from Verdelho (also grown in the cooler Northern part of the island) – Sherry-like, but this time its darker and more ‘Oloroso-ish'; the oak is more pronounced, and there’s touch of sweetness balancing the acidity.

Cossart Gordon Medium Rich Bual (15 years): From the Bual grape (probably my favorite) from the warmer southern portion of Madeira, it ripens to higher levels so it can be made into a sweeter style. And sweet it is – as in sweet fig, vanilla, and hazelnut, with a long nutty finish.

Blandy’s Malmsey 10 Year: Malmsey is the malvasia grape, grown in the warmest and lowest-altitude regions of Madeira. These wines can become ultra-indestructible and typically have a near-perfect balance between acidity and sweetness. In this case, the wine is bursting with burnt caramel, rum, honey, and smoke, with a smooth, luscious mouthfeel.

Now do you see why I use the word “love” when I’m talking Madeira?

Just don’t tell Mrs. Dudette… she might get jealous…

Cheers!
(images: 1winedude.com, malone.blogs.com, historyguy.com, wikimedia.org, sahistory.org.za, d210.tv, wilsoncrfeekwinery.com, fruitsstar.com, purplemissues.blogspot.com)

November Wine Events (Reminder: WBW #51 is Nigh!)

Vinted on November 6, 2008 binned in wine blogging wednesday, wine industry events

Just a few quick-hits on upcoming wine events in November for you, before we head into another (hopefully fabulous) autumn weekend!

Reminder: Wine Blogging Wednesday #51
Alright, people – Wine Blogging Wednesday #51(WineDude) – aka “Baked Goods” – is being hosted right here and is happening next week on November 12.

You have but a few short days left to get your swurvy on and get you some fortified or madeirized goodness to review. We are accepting any deliberately “baked” wines, as well as anything fortified. So bringeth your Rutherglen muscats, Madeiras, Ports, Sherries, etc., and prepare to get knocked on yer ass!

The full details can be found on my announcement post. Looking forward to tasting with you next week, even if only virtually!

But wait… there’s more!…


2008 Brandywine Valley Vintner’s Dinner

Each year, the Brandywine Valley PA region winemakers celebrate the end of the harvest. The festivities will be happening at the draw-droppingly gorgeous Longwood Gardens this weekend on November 8th at 6:30 PM ET.

I will be there, as will Joel Peterson, the brains and inspiration behind Ravenswood (you have heard of them, haven’t you?). Should be a good time (if I have anything to do about it!). Full details can be found here.

Teikoku Organic Wine Pairing Event
On November 19th at 5:30 PM, if you’re in the Philly area, you can kick off your Birkenstock’s for an organic wine mixer at Teikoku hosted by wine educator and consultant, Erika Gottron, from Capitol Wine and Spirits. The wines will be paired with small plates by Executive Chef, Takao Iinuma (who totally Rocks it!). Tickets can be purchased here.

Drink Charitably! Twitter Taste Live Gives Back
Last but not least: Humanitas Wines, Twitter Taste Live, Twittermoms.com and LENNDEVOURS.com are all teaming up to bring you the first Twitter Taste Live event for charity on November 21 at 8PM ET.

This event should kick all kinds of ass, and 100% of the wine sale profits for the event are going to charity. Here’s the wine line-up form Humanitas Wines for the evening:

2006 Sauvignon Blanc-Monterey
2007 Chardonnay “Oak Free”-Monterey
2006 Cabernet Sauvignon-Paso Robles
2006 Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast

You can get details, register for the event, and purchase the wines at TwitterTasteLive.com.
If you’re not familiar with how Twitter Taste Live works, check out the skinny here.

Cheers!
(images: winebloggingwednesday.org, longwoodgardens.org, twittertastelive.com)

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