The SOMM Journal

December 2014/January 2015

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{ spit bucket } Touring Chilean Wine . . . by Cruise Ship 26 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } DECEMBER/JANUARY 2014/2015 LAST SUMMER I ACCEPTED AN INVITATION FROM WINES OF CHILE to join a group of other North American wine journos aboard a Patagonian cruise ship in November for tastings and seminars with winemakers—in order to see what I had asked of Wine of Chile for years: to visit Chile's vineyards to research and report upon them and its wines. (See our next issue for this story. —Ed.) The cruise sessions—Cool Climate Pinot Noir; Cool Climate Whites; Cabernet Sauvignon; Innovation & Advances in Terroir Exploration Winemaking Techniques and Organic/Biodynamic Practices; Red Blends; Mediterranean Reds—all worthy topics, were led by writer Patricio Tapia & sommelier Héctor Riquelme Aravena, bookended by WoC Vice President Aurelio Montes. Mario Geisse, one of my favorite New World producers, was ani - mate in his appreciation to be upon the waves, viewing the wilds of his native land, thinking it a bold way to present its wines. His Casa Silva Carmenère MicroTerroir de los Lingues was "developed out of a terroir specificity project done with Talca University," he said, adding that harvest commenced ten days before the remainder of the vineyard. The Lago Ranco Sauvignon Blanc was expertly made, all structure and salty minerality with little fruit yet moving in the right direction—great with raw oysters. CIA Instructor Christie Dufault was last in Chile 15 years ago, a visit which left her unimpressed. "I found the lack of finesse and elegance in the wines didn't fit into the dining programs of San Francisco's Gary Danko and Quince," confirmed the former som - melier. "But on this trip I met 40 young, motivated winemakers and tasted exceptional wines from unique appellations with balance, integrity, elegance and character." Winemaker Fernando Almeda of Torres reflected that "Chile is looking for more radical characteristics in variety, freshness, variability . . . creating relationships between us and media allows us to share with consumers what it is we're trying to do making business easier, more intimate,"—sentiments echoed by third-time visitor John Szabo. "Wineries need to get their wines out of the Central Valley to the coast and mountains to see the real Chile," said the Master Sommelier. "The bar needs to be jumped!" Said WoC's Managing Director Claudio Cilvetti, "The tour helped us connect those who make wine with those who communicate about it." He was surprised by Santa Rita's Cerro Cabernet Sauvignon, which represented for him "an exercise that's been made by many Chilean winemakers—a wine that shows the grape more than the man," sentiment reflected by Aurelio Montes, who concluded to his fellow winemakers to "take a risk—be brave." by David Furer A view of the Chilean coast from aboard the cruise ship. The visiting group of American journalists and Chilean winemakers below a glacier in Patagonia. PHOTOS COUTESY OF WINES OF CHILE

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