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Friday, 10 December 2010

Errazuriz at Taste of Christmas 2010, London

The Aconcagua Valley - stunning !
Ever since a tasting with Chile's Vina Undurraga in Cambridge (see here), I have been taking an increasing interest in Chilean terroir.

They key principle to remember with Chile is that elevation, a function of distance east-west relative to the Pacific coast, is generally more significant than north-south latitude. And as Quentin Sadler who was running the Errazuriz stall at the Taste of Christmas event explained, the Andes rise much more steeply in Chile than in next-door Argentina, meaning that distances of even just a few kilometres can be very significant.

We started with an impressive Pinot Noir from the Casablanca Valley - Chile's premier white wine region which is also produces some interesting red wines, especially Pinot Noir which needs a cool climate to thrive.

Quite dark in the glass for a Pinot, it had a nose of raspberries and cherries, with hints of earthy truffleyness. The palate was smooth and savoury with some spice and smooth tannins from oak aging (9 months in oak, 25% new).

The "Wild Ferment" tag refers to fermentation by the wild yeasts that are normally present on the grape skins. According to the Errazuriz website, these native yeasts produce a greater combination and proportion of by-products under the demanding conditions of the fermentation process, and therefore the wine develops more complex and distinctive aromas and flavours

The next wine was a Carménère; originally from Bordeaux and historically mistaken for Merlot, it is often cited as Chile's signature red grape. This example was from the Aconcagua Valley and was fermented in stainless steel before aging on oak. It perhaps suffered from comparison with the Pinot immediately before as it felt less impressive, but had some nice blackberry fruit, a hint of spice and smooth tannins.

The final wine was a Cabernet, also from Aconcagua - usually a chewy and tough wine in its youth, this was much more fruit-driven and approachable with ripe blackcurrant, some spice and pepperiness and a long finish, but rather less complex and sophisticated for it.

As Quentin explained, the extra couple of degrees of alcohol result in a wine that is riper, juicier and more approachable, but less complex and with less aging potential as a result - which is apparently what most wine-buyers look for these days.

For those interested, here is a map of where Errazuriz's vineyards lie:

The Wines

Errazuriz "Wild Ferment" Pinot Noir 2009, £10.99, Majestic

Errazuriz Estate Carmenere 2009, £7.99, Majestic, Wine Rack

Errazuriz Max Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon, 2008, £10.99, Wine Rack


Taste of Christmas - http://www.tasteofchristmas.com/

Errazuriz - http://www.errazuriz.com/errazuriz/index.html

Quentin Sadler - http://www.quentinsadler.com/

Majestic - http://www.majestic.co.uk/

Wine Rack - http://www.winerack.co.uk/

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