Exploring Chilean wine - Valdivieso
One of the most fun things about being a food/drink/travel blogger is the constant learning I have on food/drink/travel! Just last week, I had the chance to learn more about (and drink, of course!) Chilean wine from winemaker Valdivieso. I had a fantastic evening tasting the wine, talking to the winemaker, and totally imagining what it would be there to be in the vineyard! Hopefully, soon?
Valdivieso – The Winery
Valdivieso winery dates back to 1879 when they introduced the first sparkling wine in South America – the “Champagne Valdivieso”. And yes, they could call it champagne back then because the whole ‘champagne from Champagne only’ laws only came about after that! They focused on sparkling wine for the longest time and introduced still wines in the 1980’s. Even now, they are mostly known for sparkling wine in South America, and the majority of their still wines are exported, although the production of both is pretty much split evenly now.
Brett Jackson, originally from New Zealand, studied horticulture and then made wine in Napa, South Africa, and the South of France before landing in Chile over 20 years ago! He believes that wine should reflect the region they come from, and is a big part of the growing increase in quality Chilean wine. He’s also a cool guy with a lot of stories to share!
We started with the Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine made– a 100% chardonnay with grapes from the Leyda valley of Chile, this was light and refreshing. The wine people at the table tasted peach, apricot and stone fruit, I tasted an affordable ($25) and pleasing glass of bubbles . :)
Next up was the Single Vineyard Chardonnay from 2013 ($25), also from grapes grown in the Leyda Valley. The valley sounds pretty spectacular, btw – a wine region that is bordered by the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Definitely heading here when I go to Chile. Back to the chardonnay. Now, I’m one of those people who claim “I don’t really like chardonnay”…but this one was spectacular! I took a sip hesitantly, and was honestly pleasantly surprised – none of that buttery-ness I normally taste and dislike. And as Ryan of The Fermented Fruit (who obviously knows a ton more about wine than I do) put it – “You can NOT like what’s done to Chardonnay, but you can’t dislike all varieties.”
The last of the whites was a classic Sauvignon Blanc, which as expected, was crisp and clean and super easy to drink.
The above wines were paired with a host of antipasti, an octopus salad and a crepe with lobster – a fantastic pairing by the folks at Iron Gate, where the food was spectacular too!
On to the reds. We tasted two from the Caballo Loco (Crazy horse!) line. The 2013 Grand Cru, a blend of blend of 60% Carmenere and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon was the embodiment of New World Chile – bright red, complex and intense with a silky smooth finish. A bold wine that paired well with the venison alongside (which was spectacular!) . The type of wine that would be perfect with a good steak, red meat, or even something spicy.
The last and the piece de resistance was the Caballo Loco Number 16 – another elegant and complex wine that also has a cool story behind it. Each new vintage of this is blended with the past vintage and assigned a number when ready to be released, making it an ever growing and unique style of wine! It was absolutely fantastic and well worth the $70 for a special occasion or meal. (Also, a great wine to impress other winos!) We enjoyed the Number 16 with a beautiful cheese course. The folks at Iron Gate were absolutely spot on in their pairings, really!
All in all, a great tasting of a winemaker that was completely new to me, with price points that are manageable and realistic! Keep an eye out for Valdivieso in your local wine store!