Chilean Adventure

Welcome to Sendik’s wine blog.  Here we hope to entertain with insider info to what’s happening in the world of wine.  Appropriately, I find myself clean and showered in Cochulgua Valley, Chile after an overnight flight to Santiago yesterday.  Needless to say Chile has been a major player in the wine world for some time.  And while I’ve always hoped of making this trip, the timing now couldn’t be better considering our economy and the wine choices we’re seeing our customers make (presumable because of the economic climate).  However with the exceptional value of so many wines under $10, it’s easy to see why this category is doing so well.

What I’ve learned so far is that this country is very narrow and fertile.  Yeah it looks narrow on a map, but driving between the Andes and the coastal range put a whole new spin on narrow.   We have palm trees right out my window and snow covered mountains surounding us.   The valleys between the mountains are filled with farms; fruit trees, grape vines, and produce.  Farms flow as far as the valley goes until it runs into another mountain.  It’s winter and the vegetation still grows.  Saying its fertile is an understatement.

A couple of days into my trip now we’ve been forced (HA!) to drink Pisco Sours daily.  Pisco is a Peruvian or Chilean Liq made from the Pias, or Mission grape.  Essentially it is a grappa or un-aged brandy.  The Pisco sour is pisco mixed with egg whites and lemon juice, shaken until it froths and best topped with a spash of bitters.  Sort of a Chilean Margarita, YUM!

The food has ranged from so so to WONDERFUL. The best dishes being Ceviche from Corvina (I think this is Chilean Sea Bass, but have yet to confirm so).  And the most unique and wonderful was an appetizer of tender Octopus dressed in black olive slurry, yes the purple color was unnerving but once we tasted it… it was gone!

The vineyards have been beautiful with gorgeous backdrops of rolls hills to the Andes Mountains.  Much like what I knew of the wines this trip has confirmed.  The wines are fresh and snappy always crisp, both reds and whites alike, rarely overpowering, or over alcoholic.  In my opinion the Sauvignon Blanc grape is where this county’s future lies.  It is great at $7 to $15 dollars and really the best the world can offer in the under $10 range.   The least expensive offer an excellent varietal correct nuance of herb with abundant citrus flavors, and make for a great cocktail wine.  As they get more expensive the herbal notes become better integrated and the balance of texture and citrus harmonize.  Yesterday we barrel sampled a reserve (unfiltered) Sauvignon Blanc that was so great that is unfortunate to write we will never see back home.  We will see it in it’s finished form but as a group we concluded an unfiltered wine is best.  The difficulty in stabilizing an unfiltered wine at an affordable price point is one of the reasons it isn’t finished yet and the other is the winery didn’t feel like gambling on what our customers with think of a cloudy Sauvignon Blanc?  Any opinions?  Unfiltered the wine had tremdous texture and really give perfect balance to the zesty citrus in Sauvignon Blanc.

Featured, Wine & Spirits | July 25th, 2009