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Robin Garr

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Wine Focus for July 2018: See you in South America!

by Robin Garr » Sun Jul 01, 2018 4:06 pm

When we made up a tentative list of Wine Focus topics for 2018 last winter, it didn't cross my mind at the time that the World Cup would be going on in July. But it worked out perfectly, because we're scheduled to take on "See you in South America" for July. Vamos Uruguay! Vamos Colombia! Vamos ... umm, I'd say Brazil, but let's include everything South of the Border, too, so I can yell for Mexico tomorrow morning. :)

But seriously, all of South America is in our wine sights this month, and, to the limited extent of its wine regions, Mexico, too. And so as not to leave our friends in the rest of the world out, if you live in a place where South American wines are rare and hard to find, feel free to bring us a Malbec, a Tannat, or even a Galician Torrontes from Spain. (Recent DNA studies suggest that the Argentine Torrontes is not related, but hey. We want you to be able to play. :) )
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Re: Wine Focus for July 2018: See you in South America!

by Tim York » Mon Jul 02, 2018 7:16 am

Some Argentinian wines are readily available here, often with a French accent under signatures like Lurton, Rolland or Magrez. From Chile, there were some from Emiliana at a local supermarket a couple of years ago but I haven't seen any lately; otherwise wines from the usual yawn inspiring suspects like Concha y Toro can sometimes be found. I believe that Magrez makes wine in Uruguay but I can't recall having seen any on the shelves; in any case his wines tend to be a bit overblown and over-oaked for my taste, in particular his prestige Bordeaux whites -ugh :shock: .

As for Brazil, Mexico........
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Re: Wine Focus for July 2018: See you in South America!

by Tim York » Sun Jul 08, 2018 9:05 am

I managed to find this at a local supermarket for a price of c.€10. My main problem here is that I can find nothing specifically North or South American, European or indeed anywhere about this well made wine. Identifying grape variety could be a problem too; Merlot being my most likely guess.

This anonymity was emphasised by just previously drinking the last glass of a bottle of Saumur-Champigny which shouted its origin as somewhere between Saumur and Chinon, closer to the former, and made its grape variety absolutely clear.

2014 Leyda Carménère Reserva - Chile, Maipo Valley (7/7/2018)
This is good wine showing decently rich fruit with a slight sweetness, some depth, some spice and cedar, suave texture, fair acidity and moderate backbone. My main problem is a lack of sense of place. It could come from right bank Bordeaux, if a touch less sweetness, Pays d'Oc, South Africa.......

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Re: Wine Focus for July 2018: See you in South America!

by Robin Garr » Sun Jul 08, 2018 10:20 am

Good guess, Tim. Carmenere actually is a vinifera variety found in Chile, and it has turned out to be ... Merlot!
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Re: Wine Focus for July 2018: See you in South America!

by kasey.dubler » Tue Jul 10, 2018 12:58 pm

I may be mistaken but I always heard the story the other way around. Chile believed that had a lot of Merlot planted but then in the 90's discovered much of what they thought was Merlot was actually Carménère. Many believe this is the case because the grapes planted in Chile are from cuttings they brought over from Bordeaux in the 1850's which was before phylloxerra hit the area, back when Carménère was widely planted in Bordeaux. The 1860's phylloxera destroyed much of Bordeaux and when they replanted Merlot and Cabernet essentially replaced Carménère.

Another fun thing about the grape that I've heard is that China has large amounts of it planted, some even believe more than Chile under the name Cabernet Gernischt, but numbers from China are not very accurate...
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Re: Wine Focus for July 2018: See you in South America!

by Robin Garr » Tue Jul 10, 2018 1:48 pm

kasey.dubler wrote:I may be mistaken but I always heard the story the other way around. Chile believed that had a lot of Merlot planted but then in the 90's discovered much of what they thought was Merlot was actually Carménère.

D'oh! Thanks, Kasey. You're absolutely right. Of course, the grapes and their wine are pretty similar, hence the confusion. Thanks again for the gentle correction, though, and the intriguing China info.
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Re: Wine Focus for July 2018: See you in South America!

by Peter May » Tue Jul 10, 2018 2:17 pm

Yes to Kasey....

It seems a lot of Chile Carmenere was sold to the US as Merlot some years ago when Merlot was in great demand in the US (so I reckon before the Sideways movie) and US makers couldn't meet demand.

Luckily for the Chile wine companies, they only correctly identified the variety after there was no more Merlot demand from the USA ;)

I've had Chinese Cabernet Gernischt, and one of our major supermarket chains has one on their shelves right now.
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Re: Wine Focus for July 2018: See you in South America!

by kasey.dubler » Tue Jul 10, 2018 3:13 pm

I would love to try a Chinese Cabernet Gernischt, but sadly have never seen one. Montes makes a wine called "Purple Angel" which is something like 80%-90% Carménère and always seems to score very high. I've had it on several occasions and if you like big bold oaky wines you will be quite happy with it. It's expensive for a Carménère, but could easily pass for a high end California Cab blind.
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Re: Wine Focus for July 2018: See you in South America!

by Jenise » Tue Jul 10, 2018 6:39 pm

kasey.dubler wrote: Many believe this is the case because the grapes planted in Chile are from cuttings they brought over from Bordeaux in the 1850's which was before phylloxerra hit the area, back when Carménère was widely planted in Bordeaux.


Exactly. In fact, Carmenere is the still-legal but little-known sixth red grape allowed in Bordeaux wines, though I know of not one producer who uses it (or admits to it).
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Re: Wine Focus for July 2018: See you in South America!

by Jenise » Tue Jul 10, 2018 6:45 pm

Tim York wrote:I managed to find this at a local supermarket for a price of c.€10. My main problem here is that I can find nothing specifically North or South American, European or indeed anywhere about this well made wine. Identifying grape variety could be a problem too; Merlot being my most likely guess.


I'll add my own 'good guess'. Carmenere shares with merlot that tendency to have big chocolate, but I usually find more spice in Carmenere than Merlot. Haven't had the wine you mention but did have a Sauv Bl from Leyda a few years back which seemed to be a special bottling that might have been wild yeast. It had that kind of friskiness for sure. It was truly excellent.

Speaking of that, isn't it amazing that someone--anyone--can make a wine like that, bottle it, ship it to Europe, sell it for ten bucks more or less and everyone involved makes money?
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Re: Wine Focus for July 2018: See you in South America!

by David M. Bueker » Tue Jul 10, 2018 8:54 pm

I feel bad not contributing to this month’s focus since I created the schedule.

I have spent time in both Chile and Argentina, and found much to like in the wines of both countries. Sadly, most of what is imported to the USA is not the loveable stuff.
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Re: Wine Focus for July 2018: See you in South America!

by Jenise » Tue Jul 10, 2018 9:04 pm

David M. Bueker wrote: I have spent time in both Chile and Argentina, and found much to like in the wines of both countries. Sadly, most of what is imported to the USA is not the loveable stuff.


That's true. A year ago I was doing a big neighborhood tasting on Malbec so went to Total Wine in Seattle extrapolating that given the size of their stores they'd have a larger selection of everything including higher-end ($20+) Malbecs which I wasn't really finding here. WRONG. Not one over $12. As it was explained to me, the people who come in asking for Argentinian malbec are shopping price, not quality, so the cheaper the better. And people willing to spend $20 or more are buying local or Europe.
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Re: Wine Focus for July 2018: See you in South America!

by David M. Bueker » Wed Jul 11, 2018 2:32 pm

I can find expensive South American wines. I cannot find anything that isn't an ooze monster.
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Re: Wine Focus for July 2018: See you in South America!

by Robin Garr » Wed Jul 11, 2018 3:09 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:I can find expensive South American wines. I cannot find anything that isn't an ooze monster.

I had high hopes for a comparatively pricey Argentine Malbec that I opened the other night, but ... high alcohol, big oak. A shame. (I'll post notes soon.)
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Re: Wine Focus for July 2018: See you in South America!

by David M. Bueker » Wed Jul 11, 2018 8:49 pm

AFWE wines do exist. I drank them. Really!
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Re: Wine Focus for July 2018: See you in South America!

by Robin Garr » Thu Jul 12, 2018 3:18 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:AFWE wines do exist. I drank them. Really!

Oh, I believe that absolutely. It's hard to find them at wine shops Between The Coasts, though.
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Re: Wine Focus for July 2018: See you in South America!

by David M. Bueker » Fri Jul 13, 2018 12:25 pm

Hard to find them at wine shops on the east coast as well!

I had one of them at a restaurant in San Diego back in December 2016, but that's the only time I saw one of them.
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Re: Wine Focus for July 2018: See you in South America!

by Robin Garr » Fri Jul 13, 2018 1:44 pm

Ricardo Santos 2016 "El Malbec" La Madras Vineyard Mendoza Malbec ($19.99)

Deep, dark purple, with just a thin line of lighter garnet at the edge. Plums and black cherries on the nose with a whiff of oaky spice. Tart and a distinct edge of heat on the palate, a claimed 14 percent alcohol (or perhaps a little more) making itself manifest in a gentle burn that gains more emphasis from distinct tannic astringency. This may sound less than pleasant, but it disappears in context with food and mellows as ripe blackberries and a touch of minerality become more evident along with the oaky spice in the finish. U.S. importer: Global Vineyard Importers, Berkeley, Calif. (July , 2018)

FOOD MATCH: It was excellent with leftover Ethiopian lamb (aromatically spiced but not fiery), and also worked well with meat loaf and gravy and, separately, with creamy cheese.

WHEN TO DRINK: It's good now with food, but the rough tannins, dark color and primary aromas suggest that a few years under good cellar conditions might see it evolve.

VALUE:
I paid a couple of bucks more than Wine-Searcher.com's $18 average retail, but the $20 range isn't unreasonable for a quality single-vineyard Mendoza Malbec, if the high alcohol and oak style of New World reds suits your palate.

WEB LINK
Here's a winery fact sheet on the Ricardo Santos "El Malbec," 2013 vintage.
The U.S. distributor's website offers a bit more information.

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:
Search for vendors and compare prices for "El Malbec" de Ricardo Santos La Madras Vineyard Mendoza Malbec on Wine-Searcher.com.

Want to browse more Argentine wines from Ricardo Santos Bodega y Vinedos? This Wine-Searcher.com page offers links to vendor information for all its wines.
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Re: Wine Focus for July 2018: See you in South America!

by Jenise » Tue Jul 17, 2018 12:29 pm

Robin, I've had the Richard Santos before and recall it for being both richer and more sophisticated than average. Was around $18 up here if I recall from about four years ago. A standout at it's pricepoint among other Argentine malbecs--particularly if one is looking for a steak wine.
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Re: Wine Focus for July 2018: See you in South America!

by David M. Bueker » Wed Jul 18, 2018 4:53 pm

Yes...grilled meat!
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Re: Wine Focus for July 2018: See you in South America!

by Jenise » Thu Jul 19, 2018 10:49 am

Yeah, speaking of that, the Argentine love for grilled meat seems to lead to heavily toasted oak in many of their wines, which is a real downer for me.

Say, I'm going to open something South American tonight, maybe a Catena Cab Franc.
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Re: Wine Focus for July 2018: See you in South America!

by David M. Bueker » Thu Jul 19, 2018 11:53 am

I don't think the meat is what leads to the oak.

I think it's the previously huge scores for massive, heavily oaked wines that led to ever increasing scale. It's not unlike the hops race in craft IPA.
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