Feria del Vino
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.