Tuesday, October 4, 2016

South American Gems: James Suckling's Great Wines of the Andes #NYC #winetasting

Highlights from Great Wines of the Andes, NY

Great Wines of the Andes, is another premium wine tasting event wonderfully curated by the trusted wine critic, James Suckling. The wine tasting experience features over 100 of the finest Argentine and Chilean wines, all rated 90 points or higher.  Over 50 wine producers, both big and small, in Argentina and Chile were featured, and participants were able to enjoy live music (Surhan Sidhu), delicious cheese, charcuterie, empanadas and great wine. According to Suckling, "something extraordinary is happening in the Andes."  He mentions that Chile and Argentina are making some of the most "drinkable wines."  He thinks highly of Chilean Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon.  He also maintains that Malbec remains "the ultimate communicator of fine wines in Argentina," despite several other excellent varietals.  The wines were enjoyed in a keepsake 100 Points Bordeaux Wine Glass, which is a part of the Lalique 100 POINTS Collection of stemware by James Suckling. The Great Wines of the Andes wine-tasting event is an excellent way to highlight just what that region has to offer. For 2016, the event is held in Miami, New York and Beverly Hills.

The Wining Hour & James Suckling
This year marked the third annual Great Wines of the Andes tasting event by James Suckling, and the New York event was held in conjunction with the premium wine retailer, Zachy's Wine & Liquor. Zachys Vice President, Andrew McMurray remarks, “The time to discover the wines of Argentina and Chile is now.” We couldn't agree more!  Zachy's, located in Scarsdale, N.Y., is known as a "true destination for premium wine and spirits tastings," and they also have an impressive collection of fine wine and spirits.


The Wining Hour's Experience at Great Wines of the Andes: 
While we tasted many incredible wines, here are the ones that blew us away:

*Achaval Ferrer 
These wines were produced with grapes from three vineyards to truly feature the terroir and varietal.

Achaval Ferrer Malbec Mendoza Finca Bella Vista 2013 (95 points)
The Bella Vista is vibrant and full of raspberry and blueberry fruits, both on the nose and the palate, with a persistent finish.

Achaval Ferer Malbec Mendoza Finca Mirador 2013 (95 points)
Mirador is smooth with blueberry aromas, and wild berries, spicy plum and black currant on the palate. These wines were both enjoyable, but we may have enjoyed the Mirador just a tad bit more.

*Bisquertt Family Vineyards 
La Joya Syrah Valle de Colchaqua Gran Reserva  2014 (91 points.)
This was the only Syrah we tasted that night, but it left its mark. The Chilean La Joya Syrah had savory flavors of plum, cocoa, boysenberry and tobacco.  Full-bodied and fantastic. Bisquertt calls their Syrah "savory and delicious." It sure is.

*Carmen
Carmen, established in 1850, was the first wine producer in Chile.

Carmen Cabernet Sauvignon Valle de Maipo Gold Reserva 
(91 points)
This Cabernet Sauvignon Gold Reserva is very aromatic with notes of cassis, black currants and tobacco.  The palate is fruit forward, tasting of spicy, ripe black fruits.  Long, smooth finish.


Carmen Cabernet Sauvignon Valle de Maipo Gran Reserva 2013 (91points)
Carmen's Gran Reserva is rich and vibrant, with red fruit and cedar aromas and blackberry and currants on the palate.  Firm tannins, complex finish.

*Bodegas Caro 
Bodegas Caro is an alliance between "two cultures, two families, two varietals, one wine."  The alliance is between the Argentine and French cultures, the Nicolas Catena and Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) wine families, and Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon varietals.

Bodegas Caro Mendoza 2013 (96 points)
The Mendoza is 50% Malbec and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, with aromas of black currant and plum and black fruits and velvety vanilla on the palate. Smooth and full-bodied.

Bodegas Caro Malbec Cabernet Sauvignon Mendoza Amancaya Gran Reserva 2013 (93 points)
The Amancaya Gran Reserva is also a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec.  It greets with a fruity and floral bouquet.  This medium to full-bodied wine tastes of dark cherry, spicy plum, and chocolate that persists.  Tannic, but balanced.

*Concha y Toro 
Concha y Toro was one of the first to bring Bordeaux varieties to Chile.

Concha y Toro Cabernet Sauvignon Puente Alto Don Melchor Puente Alto Vineyard 2012
(98 points) Don Melchor, named after its founder, is an exceptional, full-bodied Argentinian blend of 93% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Cabernet Franc. Aromas offer notes of currant, blackberry and cassis, while the palate is rich and complex, with layers of fruit, chocolate and spice.  The tannins are elegant and smooth, and the finish is unforgettable. It's what we call "the Chilean wine of the Chileans!"

Concha y Toro Cabernet Sauvignon Valle de Maipo Marques de Casa Concha 2014 (92 points)
Another great Cabernet Sauvignon.  Cherry, blackberry, blueberry and cedar on the nose. Smooth and smoky dark berries on the palate. Firm tannic structure, long finish.

*El Enemigo
El Enemigo, or "the enemy," is a reference to "defining the battle that's fought within."


El Enemigo Cabernet Franc Mendoza 2011 (93 points) 
El Enemigo Cabernet Franc marks the first we've tasted from South America. This wine is 92% Cabernet Franc and 8% Malbec, sourced from grapes grown in rocky, limestone soil. It was aged for 16 months in French Oak and 20% new barrels. Peppery, perfumed aromas permeate and tastes of black raspberry, strawberry and gravel please the palate. Silky and full-bodied.


El Enemigo Mendoza Gran Enemigo 2012 (97 points)
Meanwhile, El Enemigo Mendoza Gran Enemigo proves that Mendoza has much to offer in terms of excellent wine production. This wine is an expert blend of four grapes, all in rock, limestone soil: 73% Cabernet Franc, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot and 5% Malbec. Although young, this Bordeaux-style wine was awesome, with aromas of licorice and dried herbs, and a palate with blackberry, black currant and black cherry.  This wine is smooth, complex and balanced.  Excellent. Clearly, these are wines of character and substance, both in name and in taste. Both of these wines were absolutely outstanding.

*Lapostolle
Interestingly, Casa Lapostolle, the Chilean estate founded in 1994, also owns Grand Marnier. It's obvious they have excellent taste.

Lapostolle Valle de Colchagua Clos Apalta 2012 (96 points)
Clos Apalta is produced from bio-dynamically grown grapes and consists mostly of Carmenere (85%), with small percentages of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Aromatic notes of vanilla, clove and peppery spice.  The palate is smoky, chocolaty and herbal.  Excellent blend and balance. Although this Clos Apalta is awesome now, it has lots of time to mature and be even better.  
Lapostolle Cabernet Sauvignon Valle de Colchagua Cuvee Alexandre 2013 (94 points)
There was just one delicious Cabernet after another.  However, this one was a tasty blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Carmenère and 1% Cabernet Franc, also produced bio-dynamically. You just can't go wrong with these grapes. Cherry and spicy plum on the nose, raspberries and cherries on the palate. Balanced and persistent finish.  

*Rutini 

Rutini Malbec Mendoza 2012 (93 points)
100% Malbec.  Full bodied and all that a Malbec should be. Wild berries, tobacco and vanilla on the nose. Loaded with dark fruit flavors, like sugarplum and black cherry, milk chocolate, and cocoa on the palate.  Long, peppery finish.  

Rutini Malbec Mendoza Apartado Gran Malbec 2010 (93 points)
Apartado Gran Malbec is for the Malbec-lovers who want a little more.  Also made from 100% Malbec, but with grapes from three different Argentinian vineyards. An aromatic bouquet of red berry fruit and plum.  Notes of black raspberry, cherry, sweet tobacco and chocolate on the palate. Balanced acidity and lingering finish. This wine represents the style and diversity of the winemakers. 

*Seña 
Seña is the product of a collaboration between Eduardo Chadwick and Robert Mondavi. Only 700 cases per year are produced of this Chilean Bordeaux blend.

Seña Valle de Aconcagua 2013 (99 points)
A spectacular, expert blend of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Carmenere, 12% Malbec, 10% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot, all grown bio-dynamically.  This wine delights the palate with complex layers of juicy red and black fruit, oak and spice.  Pleasant and polished.

Seña Valle de Aconcagua 2014 (97 points)
This vintage was also tasty, but young. A blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Carmenere, 11% Malbec, 8% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot.  Balanced, with a clean finish.
Eduardo Chadwick, Winemaker

*Susana Balbo Wines 
Susana Balbo was Argentina's first female winemaker.

Susana Balbo Wines Torrontes Valle de Uco Barrel Fermented Signature 2015 (93 points)
This wine happened to be one of the few white wines that we tasted, and we were happy we did. 100% Torrontes with floral aromas and tastes of honey, vanilla and lime.

*Viña Von Siebenthal
Viña Von Siebenthal is a winery in Chile that has consistently produced wines that express the extraordinary characteristic of the Valle de Aconcagua terroir for over two decades.

Viña Von Siebenthal Valle de Aconcagua Montelig 2008
This was the first our very first wine of the night...and boy, were we blown away.  "Montelìg is the
fusion of "monte" which is Spanish for mountain and "lìg" which is the native pre-Inca indian language for light. The mountains and the light are the most striking and moving elements of the Chilean landscape. The velvety, refined texture of the light against the aristochratic mountains of Panquehue are evoqued beautifully by Viña von Siebenthal's premium wine Montelìg."  Montelig is a blend of Cab. Sauvignon 40%, Petit Verdot 30% and Carmenère 30%, all oak-barreled for 25 months. This comes out in the velvety flavors and complex character.  

Viña Von Siebenthal Valle De Aconcagua Tatay De Cristobal 2011 (96 points)
This is a bold and mysterious wine that blends Carmenère 90% and Petit Verdot 10%. We love a good Carmenere! This one is superb, with delicious plum, tobacco and chocolate.  Smooth, ripe tannins.

Great Wines of the Andes was a fantastic way to taste some gems from South America.  Do you have any favorite South American wines?

Also see our highlights from Great Wines of Italy

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