The biggest and best of Chile’s annual wine fairs – Feria de Vinos de Lujo or Luxury Wine Fair- attracted droves of winelovers and glitterati once again in 2017, despite its unfortunate timing just two weeks before Christmas and the sharp rise in the entry price. The draw is the wine, of course, with 80 Chilean wineries offering samples of some of their best wines and the tremendous spread of food put on by the Hotel Santiago. When else can you taste such a range of Chilean wines, some with a retail value well over a hundred – even two hundred – dollars a bottle?
Three of the small companies importing wines from the rest of the world had stands too. In the picture above, Diego Edwards of Edwards Fine Wines is offering Chablis, an Italian orange wine and a newly arrived Grüner Veltliner to those looking to try something different. Meanwhile Les Dix Vins had an unusual white field blend from Alsace and a Cru Bourgeois wine from the Haut-Médoc and Marco de Martino was there with his brand Vigneron Fine Wines (email: firstname.lastname@example.org) offering some enticing French wines and Sherries. For those of us studying wine here in Chile, these are the guys who save the day, as getting hold of non-Chilean wine here is a challenge.
Anyway, on to the Chilean wines being showcased. Let’s set aside the well-known brands of the industrial giants Concha y Toro (one of the world’s largest wine companies, quoted on the New York Stock Exchange) and CCU’s Viña San Pedro Tarapacá, and look at some of the smaller producers.
Spumante de Limarí
This sparkling wine producer got the evening off to a good start with three very seductive traditional-method sparkling wines: Azur, Gemma Brut and Gemma Rosé.
Check out Spumante de Limarí’s website here.
Secano 2015 was one of my highlights from this year’s event. Polkura is a highly respected producer, particularly known for its Syrah wines. Secano is a very tiny production of dry-farmed Syrah vines from Colchagua. A powerful wine, with an enticingly fruity nose and high acidity, tannins and a peppery note, I very much hope to get my hands on a bottle sometime (I gather they are hard to come by!).
Check out Polkura’s website here.
I tried a trio of outstanding wines crafted by Stefano Gandolini at this boutique winery in the Leyda Valley: Ventolera Pinot Noir, a delicate wine with floral and red fruit notes and two Chardonnays.
The Private Cuvée Chardonnay was kept for two years over its lees in stainless steel and then bottle-aged for a further three years. This was a highly seductive and intense Chardonnay with complex notes of tropical fruit and those creamy notes from the lees.
The Rare Cuvée Chardonnay, which had spent 24 months in new oak, was a more full-on experience with a complex nose of quince and Crème brûlée.
For more information about Ventolera see the website of GVV here.
Viñedos de Alcohuaz
This is an intriguing family-run winery high in the mountains of the Elquí Valley in northern Chile who are using traditional methods of winemaking, including foot-treading the grapes in granite lagares (open vats).
Rhu 2013 is a food-friendly, fragrant red based mainly on Syrah with small contributions of Grenache and Petite Sirah.
Grus 2016 is a blend of Syrah, Grenache, Petite Sirah, Petit Verdot and Malbec with fruit and mineral notes.
Moho 2016 is a nicely balanced Grenache with lovely fresh red fruit.
Check out Viñedos de Alcohuaz’s website here.
A Norwegian-owned winery with vineyards in the traditional winemaking areas of Maule, Curicó and Maipo.
Orzada Carmenère 2016 is an unoaked wine made from organic grapes. It has aromas of fresh plummy fruit and tobacco and velvety tannins. Would pair well with red meat.
Winemaker’s Travesty 2016 is a powerful red blend of Carignan, Malbec and Syrah with notes of pepper, violets and dark chocolate. This is a big wine with well-integrated tannins, a cigarbox texture and a long finish.
Aliara 2012 is another wine that packs a punch. A red blend of 40% Malbec, 32% Carignan, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Syrah. Add 18-24 months in new French oak, and you are looking at aromas of toast and spice intermingled with black fruit like blackcurrants and plums (nudging towards dried fruit like prunes) and everything at the high end of the scale: high levels of tannins, acidity, body and a long, long finish. Honestly, even though it’s 5 years old, I’d be inclined to give this one a few more years to evolve.
Check out Odfjell’s website here.
This is a tiny garage-style operation in Algarrobo making natural red wines from manually destemmed grapes which are fermented in plastic bins with ambient yeasts, then aged in barrels. I tried Pinot Noir 2016, a very fresh and appetising wine that would combine well with a range of food. Very moreish.
More information about Tinta Tinto here.
I ended the night with a refreshing wine from family winery De Martino: Viejas Tinajas Cinsault 2016. With its fresh acidity and notes of chocolate and fresh red fruit, it rounded the evening’s tasting off nicely.
Find out more about De Martino here.
Events of this sort are a fantastic way to try a lot of new wines but the downside is that, however hard you try, you really can’t do them all justice. Still, there’s always next time!
Do you go to wine fairs? If so, do you have a favourite and why?