Special Report For 1000 Corks by Christopher Vincent
It’s a bit difficult to describe an event, when the whole point is to experience and evaluate more than 300 different wines. Of course, other than the most obvious phrase, “oxidative stress,” the Feria Vinos de Chile was an aromatic education.
The advertisements for the Feria focused on the quantity of different wines that would be offered. More than 50 brands were represented, with most of their varieties, making for a few hundred different wines. The majority of the large Chilean winemakers were represented.
At one of the first displays, the Casa Silva rep had us taste a “ladder” of three different Carmeneres. Each tasted better than the previous one. The third Carmenere had a very bright and even flavor with a few floral elements. This was limited edition from a select plot of the Casa Silva vineyards, “selected because of the characteristics of the sun, the soil, and the climate.” The horticulturist rose up in me, “So what are the characteristics of sun, soil, and climate, that you look for?” “Well, the sun, soil, and climate in that particular place are really good for making an excellent Carmenere.”
The Carmenere was excellent, but, needless to say, this kind of conversation wasn’t going to keep me interested. I quickly fixated on the small separate area reserved for MOVI, a group of small winemakers. At each of these stands, it wasn’t a hired rep, but an owner at the business that described his or her own product to you. I quickly found three winemakers that enchanted me. Each with a unique approach.
La Reserva de Caliboro
Reserva de Caliboro is a vineyard in Maule, which produces several varietals. Their offerings at the Feria were unfiltered blends, based mostly on Cabernet Sauvignon, with some Cabernet Franc and some Merlot. This wine has a strong full flavor with some tannic notes. It has a kind of surprise ending, though.
It packs a real punch in the aftertaste, and is the first wine I think I could right call spicy. The description on Caliboro’s website recommends this vintage go with foods with strong flavors. I agree, but the wine itself is strong enough to stand on its own two feet. Caliboro is available in a few stores in the U.S.
Garage Wine Co.
The production of Garage Wine Co. differs from the others in that the grape isn’t grown by the winemaker. The grapes come from smallholders clustered in the upper Maipo valley. Also unfiltered, the selected varietals I tried had more pronounced aromatic fruity flavors than any wine I can remember. When I say fruity I don’t mean sweet like a fruit punch but rather, it carried all the aromatic flavors of blackberries, currants, and raspberries in a wine with balanced acidity.
I’m no posh judge of wine. I imagine that something this unique isn’t what such folks get excited about. However, I didn’t think that a Cabernet could do that, so the taste was an education, and as a big fan of complex and intense fruit flavors, I did get excited about them.
French-born vintner Jose Luis Martin Boquillard describes his wine as an attempt to marry the unique attributes of the Chilean terroir with French winemaking methods. He described his goal as being to produce a wine that was both sophisticated like the French and expressive of the strong flavors of Chilean wine. And I believe he hit it on the money. A Dutch blogger, Christian Callec, described Clos Andino as “a French kiss on voluptuous Chilean lips.”
Apart from the melodrama, this wine was exquisite. Clos Andino Carmenere and Carbenet are both balanced wines, each with its own strong but not overpowering fruit aroma. In retrospect, although I tasted some excellent wines, the Clos Andino Cabernet Sauvignon alone, fully justified the price of entry.
Love wine and programming? This might be the perfect opportunity.
We're looking for a Python programmer to help us add new features to 1000 Corks.
The right candidate will know most, but not necessarily all, of the following:
- Python. Of everything listed, this is probably the most important to know. But, if you're a great Ruby, PHP, or Perl programmer who can learn Python quickly, that might be okay.
- SQL. We use PostgreSQL. But if you've used MySQL, it should be easy enough to figure out how things work. We also use Redis, so understanding the whole NoSQL movement will be useful.
- All those pesky web technologies: HTML, CSS, AJAX, and other relevant acronyms.
- Linux (we use Ubuntu), Apache, distributed version control (mercurial), etc.
- If you've also done some iOS or Android programming, please let us know.
We're hard at work making sure that 1000 Corks is the best wine search engine. This is a great chance to be part of that team. The founder's last company, Penguin Computing, became one of the largest and most successful Linux server companies in the world and changed the way supercomputing is done.
Our office is in Las Condes, Santiago, Chile. It's easy to get to via Metro.
To apply please send email to jobs at 1000corks dot com with the subject "Python Programmer". (Hopefully that's enough of a clue that you can figure out the email address, but the spam bots can't.)
Your cover letter should be the email body (in plain ASCII text). Attach your resume as a PDF. Please include your recent salary history, and what you would like to make.
This opportunity is open to anyone in the Santiago area, or who can relocate to Santiago, Chile.
Cata y Vino is a two-day wine tasting event in Santiago, Chile, that pairs wine enthusiasts with key winemakers and industry professionals. Combined with gourmet food tastings, an exclusive salon for premium participants, and an extensive wine list, it was a memorable evening.
While a traditional tasting event might include only one or two sparkling wines, Cata y Vino hosted nine producers pouring bubbly. Casillero, Cono Sur, Valdivieso, Santa Carolina, Casa Blanca, Vina Mar, Porvenir, Finca Flichmann, and Norton were all set up to impress the guests on their way into the formal exposition room.
One of my personal favorites is Concha y Toro's Casillero del Diablo Brut Reserva. Unfortunately, it isn't available in the United States, but that's just another of the many great reasons to visit Chile.
I spent the most time with the sparkling wines, but the selection of wines in the exposition room was also impressive. 38 wineries were pouring, representing six Chilean regions. In the salon, wineries poured their finest wines with enthusiasm.
The focus of the event was on wine, but one of the biggest attractions seemed to be the mixed paella served by Trujillo, a company which produces meat products as well as an irresistible cream cheese. After all of that wine tasting, the paella was a welcome addition to the event.
In May, we at 1000 Corks learned that we'd been invited to join an innovative program offered and funded by the Chilean government, Start-Up Chile. Not only are we thrilled to live in Chile and experience everything it has to offer us, but we are also excited to use this opportunity to improve your user experience on 1000 Corks.
If you have feedback on your experience with the site, this is the time to let us know. We happily accept suggestions for new online wine stores to add or change, as well as how we can improve your search results or provide more information on your favorite wines.
In the meantime, we'd like to share our initial experiences in Santiago, Chile. A featured menu item, Pisco Sour, is one of our favorite Chilean drinks. Pisco, the liquor that Pisco Sour is based on, is similar to brandy or port, originally distilled from grapes they felt were not suited for wine. The origins of Pisco are claimed by multiple Latin American countries, so we'll leave that for the lawyers - but suffice it to say that Pisco works very well in a Pisco Sour.
Pisco Sour is a cocktail in Chile and Peru which is often cheaper than bottled water in a restaurant. It consists of Pisco, lemon or lime, egg white, simple syrup, and bitters. If you enjoy all things sweet and sour, you'll enjoy this drink.
For anyone who wants to know more about what's happening with all of the start-ups and people involved in our program, we've created a new site that aggregates the blogs of all the participants. It's at Chilean Startups and is updated every hour.
For the last few years I've been running a Python consulting firm called The Penguin and The Python.
1000 Corks is just one of the many projects that we've done. Our work for clients includes everything from a semantic search engine to a National Institute of Health funded nutrition and wellness program.
But we don't just build websites. We're often hired to rework and add new features to old Python code, where the original programmer has moved on long ago.
We also do a lot of work with Linux servers: everything from helping clients choose which ones to buy, to deploying them in racks. We've seen a lot of interest recently in moving Python code from old servers to the cloud.
So if you like 1000 Corks, and need something done, please contact us.
You're also welcome to take a look at my new Python blog.
Our first stop is now one of my favorite tasting rooms in Los Olivos - Blair Fox Cellars. I should point out that I still haven't been to every tasting room in Los Olivos - I find I have only the patience and the liver to hit three or four a trip. Caroline was professional enough to spit - but I'm not. All that spitting makes wine tasting hard work!
It had great wine, a lovely ambiance, a very charismatic pourer, and it wasn't very crowded. Of all the wines they poured, the Viognier was my favorite. It was blended with a bit of Roussanne which just really made the wine stand out. Interestingly enough, they had to externally-source the Viognier for 2008 because the grapes they normally use were destroyed by frost.
It was also interesting to hear the stories the pourer told about the Sideways effect. Sideways really changed Los Olivos. Before the movie, Los Olivos was split: there were about a dozen tasting rooms in town, and a dozen art galleries. Now there are two art galleries left, and two dozen or so tasting rooms.
Tied with Blair Fox for my favorite tasting room in Los Olivos is Qupé. It's not quite as intimate as the Blair Fox space, but that's to be expected considering how much more wine Qupé makes.
Qupé actually poured one of their wines with a Soirée Decanter, which is sold by many fine stores. The decanter attaches to the bottle, which is neat - and not something that I remember seeing a tasting room actually do before.
The Soirée is an ingenious device you attach to the end of your bottle, and it aerates the wine. There's no doubt that it will improve the taste of certain immature wines, although you'll have to experiment to find out exactly what type of wines you like better with it. I can't think of a better endorsment than Qupé using it when pouring.
I remember being at the first North American Wine Blogger's Conference, and the inventor of the Soirée was showing off his invention while we ate at a winery. The winemaker pointed out - and quite rightly - that you could get the same affect by sticking a straw in the bottle and blowing. But somehow I don't think Miss Manners would find that appropriate.
One thing I didn't know until now was that Au Bon Climat (ABC) and Qupé share the same wine-making faclity. In fact, they are having an open house on Sunday, April 17, 2011. This event happens only twice a year, and will certainly be worth checking out.
There are a bunch of other brands made at Clendenen-Lindquist Vintners besides Qupé and ABC. They are:
I'm not familar with some of these labels, but clearly I'll have to be on the look out for them.
The only thing you absolutely have to do when you're in Los Olivos is to stop by Enjoy Cupcakes. Since our last trip in 2009, they've added a flight option, where you can try any six of their mini cupcakes for $10. They offer consistent options as well as experimental, so you'll almost always find something new on the menu.
If anything, the cupcakes are even better than I remember them. For our gluten free friends: They'll specially make gluten-free cupcakes if you order them in advance, although I'm not sure what the minimum quantity is.
We finished the day by eating at the Hitching Post II. This is, of course, the restaurant made famous by Sideways. It was the first time I've eaten there. There's something about restaurants featured in movies that makes me nervous. Maybe it's just how disappointing Mystic Pizza (the eponymous restaurant that was the basis of a Julia Roberts film) was.
But, Hitching Post II was a wonderful experience! I split a 26 ounce Angus Rib Chop - and we still had leftovers. Included in the entrée cost was a baked potato, salad, and shrimp cocktail. It's refreshing to get a great steak and not have to pay extra for every side dish - like you do at most steak houses these days. For our designated driver, the restaurant even offered a complimentary appetizer and a non-alcoholic beverage.
The owner of the Hitching Posts, Frank Ostini, makes his own wines with a partner Gary Hartley, a commercial fisherman. They are sold under the Hartley Ostini label. We had the 2007 St Rita's Earth, a Pinot Noir. It was a fantastic bargain at only $35 for a very, very drinkable Pinot. You'd be lucky to find that good of a Pinot in a retail store at that price, but at a restaurant, it's almost unheard of.