After discovering Chilean olive oils, piscos, fruits, wines and gourmet products at Puro Chile’s Feria Supermarket in Manhattan’s SoHo district, I was eager to participate in the current wine seminar there.
The event, hosted by Mauricio Banchieri Carter, CEO of Puro Chile, was held on July 7th and was the beginning of monthly tastings of wines exclusively from Chile. Vicente Pina, certified wine educator and consultant for the Vin de Vin Wine Tasting & Collecting, opened the seminar by announcing that the tasting was a fun event and not a test. He added the more you taste the better you become at selecting a good-quality wine. With the tone of the evening set, 14 guests sat at tables, upon which six classic white wine glasses were placed on top of numbered circles and prepared to learn and enjoy the evening.
Vincente explained the various regions in Chile. One of the few white grapes that grows well in warmer climates is a Vlognier. Chardonnay from several regions can be aged in oak barrels, giving it a woody, vanilla and buttery taste and unoaked, which gives the wine a fresh, citrus flavor. Savignon Blanc thrives in a cooler climate. In the coastal region of Casablanca, cool breezes and sea mist rolls across the valley, allowing for a longer growing season. The wines coming from this region have been noted for their exceptional depth and concentration since the early 80s. Newer vineyards extend to the San Antonio, Leyda, Aconcagua and Maipo valleys. The results are spectacular Chardonnay, Savignon Blanc and Riesling wines.
Before our first tasting, Vincente told us there are three things to look for in wine: Color (as white ages it gets darker, while as red ages it loses color), Legs (when swirling wine in a glass the wine that clings to the sides are called legs, which identifies the alcohol content of the wine) and Aroma (a good wine taster will know by the aroma how the wine will taste).
Armed with information, we tasted a unoaked Chardonnay, and agreed that it had a fresh, slightly mineral finish and was a very enjoyable, easy drinking wine. It was served with farm-style bread topped with finely chopped tomato, cilantro and chives mixed with olive oil (from Chile, naturally), salt and pepper.
Throughout the evening the wines were paired with tastes of ceviche (red tuna, onion, cilantro, peppers and fruit (traditionally mango or papaya)), cucumber shrimp (marinated shrimp with onion, cilantro and cucumber, and Chinese soup spoons filled with tomato, red onion, parsley, vinegar, lemon, olive oil and feta cheese.
As we finished the last tasting, glasses were filled again and Vincente asked us to start from the beginning, but this time we were asked to evaluate the wine, using the point system, and guessing their price. There were a few surprises. The group agreed on two wines. One was the 2010 Casas del Bosque Reserve Sauvignon Blanc from the Casablanca Valley. This family owned vineyard is located on the edges of cliffs with only 35 – 40,000 cases of this slightly citrusy, elegant wine being produced. We weren’t surprised to learn that the retail value was $20. The other was a 2007 Santa Rita ‘Floresta’ Sauvignon Blanc from the Leyda Valley. With a bouquet of herbs and grapefruit this fuller-bodied, complex wine, which was suggested be consumed over the next one to two years, retails at $25.
The other four wines served – a 2010 Casa Silva ‘Cool Coast’ Sauvignon Blanc from Colchagua (rated 89 Wine Spectator), the 2010 Amayna Sauvignon Blanc from Leyda, the 2009 Estampa Voignier Chardonnay from Colchagua and the 2010 J. Bouchon Unoaked Chardonnay from the Maule Valley – were outstanding. Everyone agreed: whether a wine expert or wine novice, the evening’s Chilian experience was not only a seminar about new wines but also about enjoying Wine, People, Food.
The experiences continue on August 3 and September 1 at 6:30 pm., Puro Chile 221 Centre Street (corner of Centre and Grand). For more information visit www.puro-chile.com, 212 925-7871 After the tasting, wines are offered at a discounted price next door at Puro Wine.