I’ve always liked Monday mornings. This is basically my day. Full of energy, optimistic and sure everything will be just fine. I might take full advantage of this dream-like reality of mine, I keep on saying to myself in a low voice. It might seem strange yet it’s very effective.
With this type of mood I arrived to the courtyard (or should I say little estate) of “The Bleeding Heart”. Slightly disturbing was the fact that this very courtyard was oddly named after Lady Elizabeth Hatton (which apparently was the toast of 17th Century London society) and was found dead just here with her heart still pumping blood onto the cobblestones. Hmmm, intriguing yet no enough to irritate my precious mood. I move swiftly over the bespoke cobblestone and enter the wine cellar room.
Smiling faces are welcoming me; Andrea Bricarello from Corrigan’s Mayfair (winner of best sommelier for Imbibe), Joris Beijn from 1901 at Andaz (his runner up),Roberto Della Pietra from all French Roussillon, and beloved Christine Parkinson from Hakassan group were amongst them. All cheerful, the wine chatting was on the move.
Then came the wines. All from cool climate regions of Chile. Two flights, one white- all Chardonnay, and one red – all Syrah. Quite a challenge I thought. Luckily it’s still a marvellous Monday afternoon and the company is charming, lucky me.
Les Blancs – The whites were how to put it, not very elegant and at times even clumsy. The old question swings again; Chard has seen it all so why, why again?
The style varied from full on acidity (almost felt acidified), to over the top oak monsters (thnx @garyvee). Along the way were a couple of more elegant and soft ones and the obvious oak chips were floating with expression.
The flight was divided by region, Colchagua (down south), Limari (600km north of Santiago) and the obvious cool climate Casablanca.
Chardonnay 07 “The Gran Araucano” from Colchagua (sub region of Rapael in the far South) surprised with an oaky nose, a touch of vanilla and a hint of creamy notes. Rich on the palate, almost confected. Loads of spices and nutty flavours. Vanilla and an almost thick character. A bit over the top with the use of oak. Good acidity and a slightly hot finish. A big boy in town!
From Limari, one of Chile’s up and coming regions came The Reserve Chardonnay 08 Terra Andina. Then suddenly, I unleashed all my superlatives. It felt as if I was waiting for this wine to arrive. I admit that I might got carried away and judging by the price (me? never!) I might have done so. In any case I found the nose to be rich with some very mature peaches, a very light nutty note & a hint of spice. Excellent palate I also thought! Concentrated yet elegant. The minerality seemed to combine with the acidity to create an almost nectar like mid palate. Finally I can say, Burgundian minerality and elegance (carried away did I mention?)
Then came along some 7 or 8 Chards from Casablanca. Mostly I found them to be much more commercial (the old anywhere any grape tune). Some had a feel of residual sugar. it seems to me that these kind of wines while trying to hide some faults and become user friendly, are very difficult to drink. The sugar is heavy, makes me heavy and tired. I didn’t really like any of them, so why bother!
Les Rouges – the worst, so it seemed was still to come. But first I was charmed.
The Casa Marin “Miramar” 06 Syrah felt to be very good start. Located in the San Antonio Valley (just west to Santiago), it benefits from pronounced Pacific influence. Its deep nose shows a lot of black fruit and a distinctive vegetal nose followed by a rich peppery note. Fruit almost feels sweet and the palate much more subtle than the nose. Low alcohol and clean flavours with just a hint of spice. Elegant and sophisticated, some real style was emerging without showing off “I’m here!!!”. Yummy that’s nice. Really tastes like cool climate. Did anyone say Rhone?
Another advantage of mine is that I tend to be impressed by inexpensive wines; I’m that kind of person. I managed to do it again. The Maiden flight Syrah from Cono Sur felt good. Coming from Colchagua and gave everything a 5 pound a bottle wine should, and more. Nose with loads of black fruit. A rustic, earthy almost savoury note and hints of leather and cinnamon. Impressive and surprisingly clean nose. Rich plum my notes dominated the palate. Not much tannins just huge amounts of fruit. Pleasant and enjoyable. My notes told the story – Again the cheapest wine on the flight, I’ve got such a cheap taste.
Most of the following wines didn’t share this clean style. Simple or complex many of them felt very technical or not enough. Reduction and off flavours were obvious. It felt like a long journey now. I struggled my way upon wines that felt too similar and didn’t leave almost any impression.
Well, well, I did find almost four wines that I would drink, from Chile I felt very content. This was, after all, another successful Monday!