On the Road with the Grape Guy

On the Road with the Grape Guy is a on-going feature that follows me from event to event ... I post my thoughts, feelings and reviews of what happened and what I tasted ... basically it is here that I review the events I attend and the things that thrilled me.

Chilean Tasting – in the Media Room

01 Mar 2023


Chile Tasting(November 8, 2022) ... This annual events one through Toronto again, this time in early November. Fifteen wineries showcased wines, a much lower number than in previous years ... Plus there was a table of wineries looking for representation (two wineries, of which one’s wines were held up at customs – which is always a shame at these events). This customs matter was not solely a one winery problem, at least six wineries had wines listed that also never showed up: Casas del Bosque, Cono Sur, Montes, Santa Carolina, Santa Rita, just to name the big names who were without some of their wines. At times you could almost hear the silent utterance of "damn the LCBO" or the cursing of our terrible system ... Either way, both tasters and the public are the losers in these instances.

That said, there was no doubt who the winner of the show was, and I'm not usually one who hands out that kind of accolade easily. The standouts were the wines from Montes, who had eight wines listed, two no-shows, one wine was "okay", but the rest were out-of-the-park hits ... Not a dud among them.

Which brings me to a new rating for this show ... The “okay” rating: for years I have made notations in my booklet of one-word, or short form notes; I also put an “x” for wines I do not care for. Other words like "thin", "weedy", "boozy" will also appear; these are wines I don't like, but give a reason for not liking them. Then there's my famous (to me) “ok”, these are wines that are just that, okay: nothing exciting, nothing offensive, just wines that are ... For lack of a better term okay.

And so without further ado, I give you my take on the 2022 edition of Drink Chile, Toronto – starting with the Montes wines.

All-Star Performer of the Show …

Montes 2020 Alpha M
An absolute ripper ... Tasty and full of flavoured ... Layered and lovely with all its dark fruit. Drink now or hold. This tickles and tingles the tastebuds, it’s everything I'd want in a Chilean wine.  (**** ½)

Montes 2020 Purple Angel
Spicy, earthy and coffee bean notes mix it up with blackberry, cassis and black cherry - there's a whole lot of more-ish-ness about this wine and age ability too.  (****+)

Montes 2020 Folly
This 100% Syrah has a meatiness about it; layered with mocha, blackberry, cassis, and black cherry with smoky, spicy and peppery nuances backing it all up.  (****+)

Montes 2019 Wings
A nod to Paul McCartney or Red Bull, either way, this wine flew high to represent another really good offering from Montes. Smoky-black cherry and hints of coffee - the fruit just sores and sings, and it's stays a long time on the palate. Beauty.  (****+)

Montes 2021 Outer Limits Pinot Noir
This is such a pretty Pinot with its smoky, earthy and beetroot notes plus some spiced-raspberry and even a touch of mocha.  (****)

And now on to the rest...

Four-Plus Star Wines Cab Franc Chile

Emiliana 2019 Coyam
A real kitchen sink blend full of dark berries and spice, all while leaving behind a pleasant and appealing linger.

Las Veletas 2019 Cuartel #5 Cabernet Franc
There's something special here that got my toes-a-tingling: tobacco, cherry, raspberry and mocha all made me want more.

Perez Cruz 2019 Liguai
Lots of red berries on offer with a meaty spiciness. There's also some mocha, vanilla and more of those red fruit tones just keep coming back over and over and over again. Really appealing.

Four Star Wines

Anakena 2017 Alwa
A five valley blend Cabernet Sauvignon that brings lots of fruit to the table, it's smooth and silky across the tongue.

ArrestiAresti 2021 Trusquel Series Vichuquen Costa Chardonnay
This has some real punch, both of flavour and balance: spiced-tropical fruit and a lovely grilled-pineapple finish, which has some really good length.

Concha y Toro 2019 Marques de Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon
Another winner in the Marques line; silky dark berries, hints of blueberry, plus vanilla touches the rim, it's just there, but not too much in your face. Pretty and a consistently good wine year after year.

CatalinoGarces Silva 2019 Catalino
This is one of two Pais wines on this list, it's like Chile’s answer to Gamay - lots of red fruit, juicy and gentle spices.

Las Veletas 2021 Almaula
And here's number two (Pais); this has Pinot Noir similarities with colour, but still Gamay-esque in taste. Plenty of raspberry-cherry and juicy components, this one is almost chuggable.

Perez Cruz 2020, Grenacha
Sweet raspberry / cherry fruit, nice light colour, super juicy and quaffable with the merest hint of white pepper.

Santa CarolinaPerez Cruz 2020 Carmenere Limited Edition
A rather atypical juicy Carmenere with vanilla, blackberry, smoked, cherry and herbal characteristics.

Perez Cruz 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon Limited Edition
Minty, mocha, and blackberry create a lovely mouthfeel and aroma, plus there's a little spiced-blueberry on the finish

Santa Carolina 2019 Reserva Familia Cabernet Sauvignon
Lots of black fruit and chocolate highlight this Vintages Essential, and the finish sticks around a long time.

Three-and-a-Half / Three-and-a-Half-Plus Star Wines

2021 Aresti Cabina '56 (Sauvignon Blanc) - *** ½+
2022 Casas del Bosque Botanic Series La Contera (Sauvignon Blanc) - *** ½
2022 Casas del Bosque Botanic Series Rosé (Pinot Noir) - *** ½
2019 Cases Del Bosque Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon - *** ½+
2021 Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Chardonnay - *** ½+
2020 San Pedro 1865 Cabernet Sauvignon - *** ½+
2020 Santa Rita Medalla Real Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon - *** ½+
2020 Vermonte Primus Cabernet Sauvignon - *** ½+

And finally, these were my okay wines. There's nothing wrong with these, they're just okay, good to drink any night of the week. They just didn't tickle the back of my throat enough to make me want to score them and take a full note. Hey, we all have days like that ...

2019 Anakena Ona (Red blend)
2021 Anakena Nuna (Cabernet Sauvignon)
2020 Aresti Espiritu di Chile Viajeru (Cabernet Sauvignon)
2020 Casas del Bosque Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon
2021 Casas del Bosque Gran Reserva Pinot Noir
2020 Concha y Toro Winemakers Lot 148 (Carmenere)
2020 Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo (Cabernet Sauvignon)
2021 Cono Sur Organic Cabernet Sauvignon
2021 Emiliana Adobe Reserva Rosé Organic (blend)
2020 Emiliana Adobe Reserva Merlot Organic
2020 Emiliana Novas Gran Reserva Carmenere / Cabernet Sauvignon Organic
2019 Las Veletas Grenache Carignon / Mourvedre
2019 Las Veletas Petit Verdot - Cabernet Franc
2019 Las Veletas Estate Carmenere
2020 Las Veletas Estate Pais
2022 Montes Outer Limits Sauvignon Blanc
2017 Perez Cruz Quelen
2019 Perez Cruz Cabernet Franc Limited Edition
2020 Tarapaca Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon
2019 San Pedro 1865 Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon
2021 Santa Carolina Reserva Chardonnay
2020 Santa Carolina Reserva Carmenere
2021 Santa Rita Medalla Real Gran Reserva Syrah
2021 Santa Rita Medalla Real Gran Reserva Pinot Noir
2021 Santa Rita Secret Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
2022 Santa Rita Secret Reserve Sauvignon Blanc
2022 Vermonte Sauvignon Blanc
2019 Vermonte Primus - The Blend
2021 Altamana Grande Reserve Assemblage Rouge


A Look at the Vino from Collavini

23 Feb 2023

The story of Collavini begins in 1896 in Ignano, Italy, we're founder Eugenio supplied wine to stores and noble families in Udine.

The winery is located in the Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, which is the top right corner of Italy, near Austria, Slovenia and the Adriatic Sea. The region may be small, compared to other regions of Italy, but it does rank among the best for producing white wines.

The one white variety most notable is Ribolla Gialla, but before we get there we must mention Manlio Collavini, who took over from his father Eugenio and ended up creating two very iconic wines.

Manlio's first wine of note was not so much a wine itself, but a colour change to an existing wine: Pinot Grigio fermented off the skins. At the time he took over the winery from Eugenio, Pinot Grigio was produced in the coppery colour or “ramato-style” and was sold in dark green Alsatian-style bottles. But Manlio decided he wanted to create a wine that was white, and then also bottled it in clear Bordeaux-style glass, thus showing off its golden colour.

But Manlio's real find came at the end of the '70s when he wanted to try and make a sparkling Ribolla Gialla ... At first, he tried first Charmet (like Prosecco) then traditional method, but neither worked out so well for him. So he decided to create his own technique for making the wine. Long fermentation in horizontal autoclaves, followed by 12 months refinement in bottle. The long fermentation can take up to 30 months, which is rare for an autoclave / Charmat method sparkling wine. The method has now become called the Collavini Method.

At the time Ribolla Gialla was not a grape that had a big following, Manlio decided to allocate 4.5 hectares of his family property to this grape and use it for his sparkling wine. It has turned into a great success.

Today, Collavini has 170 hectares, produces about a million and a half bottles annually of which 200,000 are Ribolla Gialla. Distribution for their wines began in Canada and Argentina, but now 50% of the production is exported into 50 markets around the world.

There is also some question as to why the winery's logo is a dachshund. Turns out, Manlio was very fond of his first dachshund, he even named it Ribolla. As tribute to the dog, after its passing, he decided to put the dog on the Pinot Grigio label, this ended up being a genius marketing plan as it facilitated recognition in the wine, and people wanted to try the dachshund wine.

Today, we tried six of the wines from Collavini, including the dachshund wine, to discover their love of indigenous grapes, both red and white.

2018 Ribolla Gialla - Spumante Brut Millesimato Ribolla
Collavini has been making bubbles for the past 50 years, this Ribolla has been part of that making for 45 of those. The wine sees some time in wood, and is usually 5 years from vintage date before release. The wine still retains a lovely freshness, despite the long time it spends in a cellar. Bready for sure, but also with some lovely lemon pith/zest, honey almonds, and a nice crisp/mineral finish. The acidity absolutely rocks.  (****)

Collavini PG2021 Villa Canlunga - Pinot Grigio DOC Collio
Made from 100% Pinot Grigio, their biggest market is the LCBO in Canada, which they have been in for 40 years. "We were before our time," says blank blank blank... And it ranks within the top three Pinot Grigios sold in Ontario. This is the dachshund wine mentioned earlier, it is now been put into a Burgundy-style bottle instead of the traditional Bordeaux bottle to make it distinctive from other big brands lurking on shelves. Crisp, clean, bright, yellow fruit and citrus. Pleasant with slight pithy note and a nice long finish.  (*** ½+)

2019 Broy Bianco Collio
This wine is made up of 50% Friulano, 30% Chardonnay and 20% Sauvignon Blanc. The Chardonnay and Friulano are partially dried, while the Sauvignon Blanc is harvested a few days earlier. It is then blended together and fermented partly in stainless steel and partly in barrel. There's a subtle creaminess along the mid palate; plus lime/wax/ and interesting acidity. The wine only spends a short time in the wood which adds the spicy character and complexity. This is a lovely wine.  (****)

2020 Pucino - Refosco del Peduncolo Rosso
This is an indigenous grape to the region, which has historical references to wines made in the area at Roman times. There's no wood aging, and it needs a chill. Carbonic maceration is used in the making of this wine which shows fresh cherry, blackberry and decent acidity.  (*** ½)

2012 Pignolo Pignolo
One of those "fantasy" wines that people talk about, although it is also named after the Pignolo grape. In 2009 it was their first vintage, and only 10 to 15 producers were making wine from this grape.  It is interesting to note that Sagrantino probably takes longer to become drinkable then Pignolo. This is an amazing wine, really pretty for starters. The nose is alluring with blackberry, black, cherry, cinnamon and spice. It's dense and delicious, complex and rich, with a tannin note to the finish that does not seem to get in the way of your enjoyment of this wine.  (**** ½)


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