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.


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  2. Thanks for the nice comments. I have fallen behind in my posts, but not in my wine tasting. Stay tuned for new posts soon. - Jason

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  4. Thanks for the nice comments. Still drinking wonderful wines but never finding time to write anymore. Hope to get back to it soon. Cheers.