Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Koyle & Terrapura

Last week, Cristobal Undurraga was back in the States and invited me to dinner at Churrascaria Braza in Hartford, CT.   I met Cristobal last fall for the first time and jumped at the opportunity to join him again.  His love and passion for wine can't be matched.  The famed Undurraga family has been making wines for six generations dating back to 1885 with their first imports to the US in 1903.  The family sold the eponymous winery, vineyards and family name to a banking consortium two years ago.  As the old saying goes, "you can't keep a good man down".  Shortly after the family business was sold, Cristobal, his father and two brothers jumped right back into the business with the Koyle and Terrapura wines and continue to carry on the quality wines that were always associated with the Undurraga name.    In addition to having wine in his veins, Cristobal has learned the business from some of the best around the world having worked at Franciscan Winery in Napa, CA; Rosemont Wines in Barossa Valley, Australia; Chateau Margaux in Bordeaux, France and Vina Kaiken in Mendoza, Argentina. 

We started the evening with the 2009 Terrapura Sauvignon Blanc that was produced by Cristobal's brother Alfonso.   I had tasted this last year with Cristobal and thought it was a nice wine, but it was even better this time around.  There is plenty of grapefruit, lime and kiwi on the nose and a hint of summer flowers.  The flavors of this 100% sauvignon blanc include the grapefruit and lime, along with some lemon, orange peel and lemongrass.  It is a light bodied sauvignon blanc with perfect acidity.  Great for appetizers or would pair well with a shell fish dish or a mild fish.  A must try. The 2009 Terrapura Sauvignon Blanc retails for $10.

Next came the 2009 Terrapura Carmenere.  Carmenere is a grape that is finally starting to get recognized.  As I mentioned in my previous post, this grape was originally grown in the Bordeaux region of France until it was almost wiped out by disease in the mid 1860's. There has been long speculation as to the grape as a possible clone but in 1998 it was officially recognized by the Chilean Department of Agriculture as a separate distinct variety. This wine is aged in steel tanks for four months with innerstaves of French and American oak. The Carmenere has a very deep red color and starts off with some strawberries, cherries and spicy peppers and then a hint of chocolate.   This silky wine had a medium body filled with red fruits and a touch of tobacco and a slight cedar flavor on the back end.  In my opinion, the 2009 we tasted at this meal was better than the 2008 we had last year.  Cristobal told me that the 2009 season was a warmer season and and the grapes developed better.  The tannins were much smoother and the tastes reminded me of a nice French wine, although it is from Chile.   The 2009 Carmenere retails for $10.  A great pairing for lamb chops.

Now we switch to Cristobal's Koyle wines.   One trait that he seems to maintain from his days in the Bordeaux region of France is blending of wines.  The first wine from this label was the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. This was one of my favorites last year, and it didn't leave me down this year. This dark ruby colored wine is a blend of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon and 12% Carmenere that came from two regions in Chile - Maipo and Colchagua Valley. There was a wonderful blackberry and blueberry aroma along with tobacco and coffee. The Carmenere added some spiciness to the taste. 60% of the wine is aged in French oak for 12 months and the remaining 40% is aged in stainless steel tanks to preserve the aroma and taste of the grape varietals. They recommend decanting this wine for at least 30 minutes before serving and also feel that this will cellar well for another 5 years. Only 4,000 cases of the Cabernet Sauvignon were produced and it retails for $17. A must buy.  The restaurant owner said he normally does not like cabernets, but he really did enjoy these. They are not as hearty as the CA Cabernets, but are just as good.  Wine Spectator rated this 87 points.

Next up, the Koyle Syrah 2007.  This was the first vintage of this wine and is a blend of 87% Syrah and 13% Carmenere. It is dark violet in color with creamy, intense cassis and graphite notes, along with some chocolate and toasty oak on the nose and palate. The tannins were still a little chewy on this vintage, like the previous tasting, but should evolve nicely over the next 5-10 years. This is slightly less acidic than the Cabernet. The Carmenere really started to stand out this time around.  Be sure to decant the Syrah at least 30 minutes prior to serving, but 60 minutes is better if you have the time. Again, only 4,000 cases were produced. The 2007 Syrah retails for $17.  Wine Spectator rated this 86 points.

Many producers call their better wines Reserves or Reservas, Cristobal calls his Royale.  Great name!!!  The 2007 Royale Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Malbec and 6% Carmenere. The Cabernet grapes are harvested from vines planted in the early 20th century. This dark ruby Cabernet has a complex aroma of black currants, blackberry, violet and black tea. The black fruits continue onto the palate along with some spiciness from the Carmenere, followed by a nice long lingering finish. Following fermentation, the wine was aged in French oak barrels for 18 months. The barrels included 20% new oak, 20% 1 year used, 20% 2 years used and 40% 3+ years. Again, be sure to decant this wine. The 2007 Royale Cabernet, which retails for $26.  This is a great bargain buy.  If it was from CA, it would likely retail for around $50+.  It pairs nicely with a beef tenderloin or fillet.  This was my favorite of the Kolye wines. Wine Enthusiast rated this 92 points and Wine Spectator rated this 89 points. Blogger Top 10!

The last wine of the evening was the 2007 Koyle Royale Syrah which is a blend of 85% Syrah, 11% Malbec and 4% Carmenere.  I was curious to try this again as the last time it opened with a big nose of grilled meats. This time, it was still there but not as pronounced as last year.  The extra bottle time seems to be reducing that aroma.  Now I picked up more of the cherry and mulberry aromas along with some herbs and a little chocolate. In addition to the blackberry flavors from the Syrah, the Malbec and Carmenere added some plum, cedar and peppery flavors. As with the Royale Cabernet, this wine was also aged in French oak barrels for 18 months. This is a very complex wine that should age well. This Syrah also retails for $26.00  This is a a perfect match for a stew or red meats.  Wine Spectator rated this 85 points.

On your next visit to your local wine store, be sure to ask if they carry Terrapura or Koyle wines.   You can check out some of my other Koyle and Terrapura wine reviews in my October 11, 2009 posting, or click on Chile in the "Labels" section on the sidebar.  Thanks Cristobal for another great evening of conversation and tasty wines.  I look forward to visiting Chile next Spring.

All of these wines are imported by Quintessential Wines.  See sidebar link for their entire portfolio.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Finger Lakes Riesling Festival

The second annual Finger Lakes Riesling Festival will take place on August 14-15  along Lakeshore Drive and Kershaw Park in Canandaigua, NY.  This year, you will be able to sample wines from more than 14 local producers.  In addition to great wines, there will be live entertainment, an arts and crafts marketplace, and a farmers market with outstanding local foods.  Other events include: 

• The Wegmans New York State Craft Beer Tent on Saturday, August 14. Festival-goers will have the chance to sample beer from local brweeries in the Wine Garden while enjoying live entertainment.

• A Battle of The Bands Competition for local bands to participate in on Saturday, August 14. A prize package valued at $1,000 will be awarded to the winning band from Mobile Music in Canandaigua.

• Horse-drawn carriage rides up and down Lakeshore Drive (which will be closed to traffic) for the entire family to enjoy.

• A Classic Car Show on Sunday, August 15. Pre-registration is required and the entry fee is only $10.  Awards will be given for best in show.
Mark your calendars!!!  Come on out to the 2nd Annual Finger Lakes Riesling Festival on August 14-15 and taste some of the best US Rieslings, along with other entertainment for the entire family. 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Santorini Assyrtiko 2008

The latest addition to the BrandAction Team's account is the Santo Wines from Santorini.  SantoWines is a 2,500 member cooperative dating back to 1947 and is the largest wine producer on the Greek island.   Myth has it that Santorini was made from a handful of dust dropped into the Aegean Sea. Santorini wines date back to the 3rd millennium B.C. as evidenced from vines and grape drawings that have been exhumed by archaeologist.  This wine is made from 100% assyrtiko grapes, which is a new varietal for us, so I had to do a little research.  The grapes are golden yellow with lots of acidity.  80% of the grapes grown in Santorini are assyrtiko.  Many get blended with other grapes, as well as used for dessert wines.  The vines are grown and pruned in a low circular format just above ground level, which is known as kouloura, instead of the higher trellises normally seen. This helps prevent the vines from being damaged from the high winds off the sea.  Also, the vines are planted in a very lava rich soil which, unfortunately, seemed to give the wine a unusual stony aftertaste.  The nose on this wine is of slightly fragrant flowers with some honey and herbs.  On the palate, there were plenty of citrus flavors that reminded me a bit of a French Sauternes, but the flavors were extremely short lived and then you are hit with the aftertaste I mentioned.  Overall, for our tastes, this was an interesting wine to try but we probably would not go out of our way to find it.  We served is with tilapia which was a good pairing for this wine.  I would probably serve it with some shell fish or a mild white fish.  Thanks Constance for the opportunity to try this Greek wine.  The Santorini Assyrtiko 2008 retails for about $15.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Fattoria dei Barbi 2006

This is a family that needs no introduction.  The Colombini family has owned land in Tuscany since 1352, and purchased Fattoria di Barbi in 1790.  Today, the winery is operated by Stefano Colombini who is the 20th generation of wine producers in the family.  The Fattoria dei Barbi label is probably best known for their Brunello di Montalcino.  However, if you can find the 2006 Morrelino di Scansano, be sure to give this wine a try.  It is a blend of Sangiovese and Merlot with wonderful aromas of cherries, blackberries and blueberries, along with the Tuscan earthiness of mushrooms growing in the barnyard.  You might pick up a small amount of vanilla from the oak.  On the palate, this medium-bodied wine has some bing cherry flavors combined with blackberries and plums, along with a hint of spices and black tea.  The tannins were realtively smooth but the acidity was a slight bit high for my taste.  Be sure to decant this wine for at least 30 miutes. We served this with a flank steak and a mint chimichuri sauce, and it was the perfect match.  Would also be a great match for a pasta dish.  The Morrelino di Scansano retails for $15.  Give this a try.