A tutored wine tasting and three course dinner presented by Torres Chile head wine maker, Fernando Almeda.
Thursday 8th June 2017
7.15pm for a 7.30pm start
Also at our Facebook Events Page.
Cordillera Brut Pinot Noir Methode Traditionelle, Curico Valley
Tormenta Sauvignon Blanc (Organic), Central Valley
Reserva de Pueblo Pais, Secano Interior
Cordillera Carignan, Maule Valley
Empanadas de Pollo
Classic Chilean dish with chicken, cheese and peppers encased in pastry and baked in the oven
Cordillera Chardonnay, Limari Valley
Pierna de Cordero Mechada
Roast rump of lamb marinated with Chilean spices and garlic served with a selection of Chilean style vegetables
Tormenta Carmenère (Organic), Central Valley
Manso de Velasco, Curico
Pancakes filled with the classic Chilean sweet caramel cream with a kiwi, strawberry and orange salad spiked with fresh mint
First of all a big thank you to Matthew Nutt from John E Fells who are the UK agents for Miguel Torres Chile wines in the UK. Secondly it was great to meet head wine maker Fernando Almeda and his colleague Arturo Garcia Huidobro, Torres Chile Export Director, who accompanied him. Fernando was a very good speaker and it was interesting to learn a bit more about Miguel Torres’ Chilean wines. I am sure that Fernando could have spoken and taken questions for a lot longer than he did but both Fernando and Arturo had to get back to London so they could be in the Lake District the following morning for more wine tastings!
Guests were greeted on arrival with a glass of the Cordillera Pinot Noir Brut, a Blanc de Noir made in the traditional method. It was interesting hear that when Torres first made a sparkling wine in Chile it was 100% Chardonnay, this eventually became a Chardonnay / Pinot Noir blend and has now come full circle to be a 100% Pinot Noir as different styles and tastes have developed. This is very fresh, floral sparkling wine with very refreshing acidity. For me, there was distinct apricot character. it was certainly a good wine for an aperitif.
Pre-dinner we had chosen three wines for Fernando to talk about. The first of these was Tormenta Sauvignon Blanc, an organic wine from the Central Valley. Apparently the Tormenta range has been around for a while, but this was the first time I had seen it. It is a good, value Sauvignon Blanc with lots of gooseberries and fresh, zesty character. I really like the labels for this range, they are very smart and modern. Miguel Torres Chile (and Torres Spain) are very serious about the environment, green issues and sustainability and the Tormenta range, as well as being organic, features recycled paper labels and water based inks. Even the glue for the outer cardboard boxes is made using natural adhesives such as corn starch and lactic casein. There was also another Tormenta wine, the Tormenta Carmenere served with the lamb main course. This is a a good fruity, ripe Carmenere with plenty of dark fruit character. It went very well with the lamb rump and it was the most popular wine (in terms of bottles ordered) on the evening. A hit.
The next wine was the Reserva de Pueblo Pais. It is a fun wine, a lighter style with a hint of sweetness. Fernando insisted that serve this red wine chilled at around 12c and I think this showed off the wine really well. Serving it chilled just brings the wine together and tightens everything up, it would be great served like this on a hot day in the garden. A perfect bbq wine. The Reserva de Pueblo Paisis made using the technique of Carbonic Maceration a technique mostly used in Beaujolais and sometimes elsewhere (J Lohr Wildflower from California is a good example). It involves the fermentation of whole grapes in a carbon dioxide rich environment prior to crushing. This helps to produce very fruity wines with low tannins. It is no surprise, therefore, that this is a fruity red wine with loads of sweet creamy red fruit (plums, cherries etc.), floral and herbaceous notes with a hint of spice. It is interesting to see that good quality wine can be made with Pais grapes. Pais was one of Chile’s most largely planted grape varieties in in the last century but was mainly used for cheap, locally imbibed, jug wine. Torres has been instrumental in reviving the use of Pais grapes wine for quality wines. Torres work very closely with growers in Secano Interior and the wine is Fair Trade certified. If you want to find out a bit more about Pais, Torres also make a very good 100% Pais sparkling rosé, the Miguel Torres Santa Digna Estelado Rosé.
The last wine of the pre-dinner tasting was the Cordillera Carignan. This is another favourite wine of mine. It has tremendous blackcurrant and spicy, vanilla aromas (it reminds me of blackcurrant Chewits!) and is full, rich and spicy with more blackcurrant and raspberry flavours on the palate. Carignan is a grape variety which has fallen out of favour in Chile and was in danger of being forgotten. Torres are part of a group called Vigno, the Vignadores de Carignan. This is an association of wine producers in the Maule Valley, set up to try and create a Carignan Denomination of Origin (DO) and to promote the Maule Valley and Carignan wines in particular. The criteria for becoming a member of Vigno is that wines must be made from at least 65% Carignan, from old vines over 30 years old and from non-irrigated vineyards. The grapes have to be from the Maule Valley and the wine must be aged for a minimum of 2 years in barrel or bottle prior to release. Vigno are still fighting hard to get a DO officially recognised. Watch this space!
The starters of chicken empanadas matched very well with the Cordillera Chardonnay. This is made from grapes grown in the Limari Valley. The Limari valley is unusual in Chile because it one of the few areas that has chalky, limestone soils. This, combined with the semi-arid climate and marine influence produce, some say, the best Chardonnay in Chile. The Cordillera Chardonnay is 50% barrel–fermented in French oak (20% new). It has quite fresh, grapefruit, peach and nutty hints. There palate is fruity with a good minerality. I think this is a great value if you like something with a little bit of oak.
I mentioned the Tormenta Carmenere above as one of two red wines served with the main course of lamb rump. The second wine was Miguel Torres’ top Chilean red wine (along with the Conde de Superunda red wine blend). Manso de Velasco 100% old vine Cabernet Sauvignon. The Manso de Velasco vineyard is a single 15 hectare vineyard located in the Curico Valley. The wine is only made with grapes from vines that are over 115 years old. The Manso de Velasco 2012 has bags of blackcurrant fruit, cassis and confit black fruit on the nose. There are also hints of cacao and chocolate. The palate is full, rich and dense. The blackcurrant flavours follow onto the palate with some toasty, spicy character. It is a dense wine with good tannin structure and great length. My favourite wine of the tasting.
Lastly we had the sweet desser wine, the Nectaria, a late harvest, botrytis riesling. This is not made every year, only when conditions for the development of noble rot (Botrytis cinerea) are right. This was paired with some pancakes, caramel sauce and fresh fruits and matched well. The wine is barrel fermented which adds a significant, spicy complexity. Nectaria 2010 has a lovely, golden colour. It has hints of apricots, spices, confit plums with some slightly oily and waxy aromas. The palate is sweet (but it doesn’t seem as sweet as previous vintages I have tried) with orange-y, marmalade, honey and spicy character.
As well as Fernanado, Arturo and Matthew, I would also like to thanks Chef Clive Wright and his staff at Lysses House Hotel for the excellent food and service and for making sure everything ran smoothly.
Just for a bit of interest, here is how the wines, in terms of percentage bottles sold on the evening, broke down.