E Wine of the Week

E Wine of the Week
By Bruce Cochran
A Chilean Primer
Hello Everyone,
This month we’ll expand our horizons with some of my favorite wine regions to visit, from the U.S. and abroad. We begin, and end, with South America.
Mark your calendars for a trip to Little Rock for a really big wine tasting on Nov. 20. Over 600 wines, specialty beers, food from many of Little Rock’s best restaurants, live jazz and more. It’s “The Ultimate Night Out” to benefit Youth Home and Consolidated Arkansas Restaurant Industries and will be at the Clear Channel Metroplex. Only 700 tickets are available and, as I understand it, this will sell out. Call (501) 821-5500 for details.
Try a new wine this week!

Don Raphael Reserve Merlot
With dry summers, rainfall in winter. and Chile’s proximity to the Pacific Ocean, the climate for much of Chile is very similar to much of California’s wine country, which is about an equal distance north of the equator as Chile’s is south. Wine styles typically fall somewhere between California and France, neither extremely full-bodied nor extremely elegant. Nestled between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean, much of it looks, and feels, very Californian.
With food and wine, Chile is a very global place. There is a variety of international influences, with contributions of winemakers from California, Europe and Australia/New Zealand. You can see the same thing on restaurant menus. This could seem unlikely, as Chile is one of the world’s most isolated wine countries.   The Pacific Ocean is on one side, the Andes Mountains are on the other, Antarctic glaciers are in the south and in its north is the world’s driest desert.
For this reason, the vine malady called phylloxera has never been as big a problem in Chile as it has in most other parts of the wine world. Most vines are descendants of the original French cuttings and are ungrafted. Most of California’s vines, as well as those from Europe and most other countries, are grafted onto American rootstock that are resistant to pylloxera. Since most wine grapes spread around the world from France, the Chileans sometimes say that their wines have a truer taste of the originals.
The most popular grape varieties today are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay, along with Sauvignon Blanc in a “Pacific Rim” style. There is also renewed interest in a red grape called Carmenere. Like Cabernet and Merlot, Carmenere is a red wine variety from the Bordeaux region of France. No longer grown much in France, the Chileans are very big on it, though the international market for Carmenere has yet to really take off.
Regions are now being listed on labels, Most wine regions are river valleys that begin in the Andes and end at the ocean, south from Santiago about 125 miles to the Bio Bio River. On a map they look a little like a ladder.
In roughly a north to south order they include: Aconcagua (north of Santiago, on the slopes of Mt Aconcagua), Casablanca (on the plains spreading west from Santiago toward the ocean), Maipo (and Pirque), Rapel, Colchagua, Curico, Lontue, Maule, Bio Bio. It tends to be cooler as you move south, toward the South Pole, of course, so pinot noir is being grown in Bio Bio.
I distribute a line from Aconcagua, in the north near the border with Argentina. Mt. Aconcagua is the third highest peak in the world after the Himalayan peaks of Everest and K2. It’s called Conde de Velaquez, after a Spanish conquistador (we just say Conde), and these foothill vineyards are organically grown, and irrigated from runoff from Aconcagua’s mountaintop glacier. I like Conde’s “Don Raphael Reserve” Merlot, a fruit-centered, medium-bodied, New World style red. It retails for about $12.

All wines feature in E Wine of the Week are available locally. To receive the electronic version of E Wine of the Week, email bruce@brucecochran.com.

Categories: Legacy Archive