by Andrew Chalk
Viña Ventisquero winemaker, Felipe Tosso, came through Dallas recently and gave me a chance to taste some of his best wines. It is clear that this is a winery on clear march forward and we are going to hear a lot more about them in the next few years.
We started with the 2013 Sauvignon Blanc from the Casablanca Valley ($10). It is a wine with more weight in the mouthfeel than most Sauvignon Blancs from Chile. Perhaps a result of the cool climate in Casablanca, an area just a short distance from the Pacific ocean where cool winds prevail.
Then it was on to the 2012 Grey Pinot Noir, Single Block, Las Terrazas Vineyard, Leyda Valley. This complicated “multi-sub-domain” name means that the grapes came not just from the Las Terrazas Vineyard, but from a single block within that vineyard. I have been impressed with Pinot Noirs from Chile’s cooler regions like Casablanca and Leyda but this is the best yet. It has ripe fruit and true varietal character. Forward red-fruit aromatics and a reassuring finish. It most closely resembles a central coast California Pinot. The ‘Grey’ in the name refers to a particular product line in the Ventisquero range. Grey means glacier and Grey is the highest level product line, single block offerings, below a few special named offerings.
Also in the Grey series we tasted a 2012 Single Block GCM (Garnacha, Cariñena, Mataro) from the Apalta Vineyard in the Colchagua Valley. It is a full-bodied wine in a New World fruit forward style. Great with red meats.
Next was the 2011 Grey Carménère, Single Block, Trinidad Vineyard, Maipo Valley. it spent 18 months in French oak barrels (a third of them new). It is not as green as some Carménère wines I have tasted and comes over as a complex, full-bodied red wine. Dark fruit (blueberries and blackberries predominate in the nose).
The 2010 Grey Cabernet Sauvignon, Single Block, Trinidad Vineyard, Maipo Valley is the previous wine’s Cabernet cousin. It exhibits ripe tannins, a long finish and forward dark fruit.
The 2009 Vertice, Carménère/Syrah blend from Apalta Vineyard is an hommage to Tosso and Ventisquero’s consulting winemaker, John Duval, former winemaker of Penfold’s Grange. The green notes of Carménère and earthy grilled meat notes of Syrah actually work quite well together as neutralising forces. I am surprised this blend is not found more commonly. The Vertice uses roughly equal proportions of the two grapes. The wine shows intense color, the result of a long low-temperature maceration. Ageing is in French oak barrels (40% new) for 20 months followed by 18 months in bottle. The result of the long-ageing is a wine that is already exhibiting hallmarks of maturation on release, a welcome quality in a world of pre-pubescent wines. This wine is best left to breathe for a few hours after opening to allow it to open up.
Finally we tasted 2010 Enclave Cabernet Sauvignon, Pirque, Maipo Alto. Tosso and Duval’s attempt to create a Bordeaux blend in Chile. Hence the inclusion of small amounts of Carménère, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot in the blend. The altitude of the vineyards (2250 to 3000 ft.) help create a cooler climate in Pirque than in the Maipo Valley generally. Ageing is 18 months in French oak barriques (50% new, 50% one year old) followed by 12 months in bottle. This is a wine that is meant to be aged 10-15 years before reaching its peak.