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Friday, 29 October 2010

Anakena Riesling Viognier Chardonnay at Fine Wine Fair

Perhaps the most unusual wine I tried at the recent Fine Wine Fair was a white from Anakena Wines at the Wines of Chile stand. It was a blend of the two great white grape varieties Riesling and Chardonnay (plus some Viognier) - the Beatles and the Rolling Stones of the wine world, if you will.

Of these, Chardonnay would be the Beatles; ostensibly straightforward, likable and easy to enjoy, but in fact superbly crafted, achieving complexity through layering and production. By contrast, Riesling would be the Rolling Stones - angular, in-yer-face, uncompromising and thrilling, yet also capable of great charm and secretly quite refined underneath that brash exterior.

And just as the Beatles never really rocked convincingly and the Stones' attempts at Beatles-esque psychedelia were less than successful, I would never think of putting Riesling and Chardonnay together in the same wine - both great varieties, but doing what they do so differently, it's hard to see how they would complement each other and benefit from the association.

And that was the conclusion I came to when tasting this Riesling Viognier Chardonnay from Chile's Anakena Wines; well-made, and well-structured with good varietal elements of Riesling and Chardonnay certainly - as you would expect with grapes from the prestigious Rapel and Casablanca valleys - but just not an obvious match.

And what does the Viognier bring to the blend? The Anakena website gives this tasting note for the wine:

- it combines the apricot and floral aromas of Viognier with the citrus and mineral notes of Riesling and the tropical aromas of Chardonnay

Oh, and to add to the palate confusion, it's also partly-oaked as well.

I am increasingly keen on Chilean wines and I have been impressed by Anakena before when I tasted their Single Estate Syrah at a recent cheese event, so I'm prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt - certainly, the wine was well made and in no way unpleasant. I just could not "get" such an unusual pairing from the brief tasting and did not know what to make of it.

If you are looking for something well-made but unusual and palatable, however, this could be just the thing.


Wines of Chile - http://www.winesofchile.org/

Anakena Wines - http://www.anakenawines.cl/

Tasting note for this wine - http://www.anakenawines.cl/ona/fichas/ona_riseling_viognier_ch.pdf

Fine Wine Fair - http://www.finewinefair.org/

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