Sunday, October 4, 2009

Tasting Notes: Chilean Wines at JavaMonkey

My first week back at work full-time after my surgery felt longer than it was. By the time I got to the Thursday night tasting at JavaMonkey, I was exhausted. Thank goodness for wine!

The theme of this tasting was Chilean wines, and five of the six came from Odfjell Winery, which is located in the Maipo Valley, a traditional red wine growing area. Dan Odfjell, the owner, is Norwegian, and apparently the wine maker consulted with Napa's Paul Hobbs when the winery first got started.

Here are the wines. Again, you get mine and Hubby's reactions, which are sometimes different. I like it that we can still keep each other guessing about what the other one is thinking after so long together.

2008 Odfjell Armador Sauvignon Blanc (Casablanca, Chile):
Nose has flower stem, seashell, and lemon. The floral and mineral continue on the palate, but it has a slightly bitter finish. Hubby noted the mineral aspects and suggested it would be good with something like Ceviche.
Rating: Good

2009 Tormenta Viognier (Central Valley, Chile): Certified Organic, not Odjfell
Gardenia nose, but bone-dry mineral with a hint of lime.
Rating: Meh to Good

2007 Odjfell Armador Merlot (Maipo Valley, Chile):
60% stainless, 40% oak
Lovely dark fruit nose. Medium-bodied wine with the fruit continuing, but subtle.
Rating: Good
This was Hubby's favorite.

2007 Odjfell Armador Carmenère (Central Valley, Chile):
Mild nose with hints of leather and fruit. Dark berry on the palate with more butter. Had a greenish/herbal backbone that added complexity.
Rating: Very Good

2006 Odfjell Armador Cabernet Sauvignon (Maipo Valley, Chile):
This one has a funky nose with some fruit. It's smooth and earthy with tobacco, and the mouthfeel is that it slides off one's tongue. I almost feel naughty for liking it. Actually, I always feel naughty when I use "mouthfeel" in a sentence. I think I'll stick with "texture" in the future.
Rating: Good to Very Good

2005 Odfjell Orzada Malbec (Lontué, Chile): Organic, from 50-year-old vines
Okay, I had to put aside my preconceptions about Malbec for this one. I'm used to Argentinian Malbecs, which are smoky, oaky fruit bombs. This one has a very light nose with a burst of dark fruit. The palate is berry/vanilla with acidity that moves to fruit as it opens. Overall, elegant and understated.
Rating: Good to Very Good

Random note: It's not just wine drinkers that get toasted!
During this tasting, we learned that barrels are toasted, and the amount of char will impart smoky notes to the wine. This prompted mental pictures of large barrel toasters that have round holes, knobs on the side to control degree of toastiness, and grids that pop out the barrels when they're done. This is not the case. As I learned on

During the construction of the barrel, a step takes place where the partially assembled barrel is placed over a small wood fire. During this step, the inside of the barrel is charred or 'toasted'. The amount (depth) of char in the barrel has an effect on the wine that is aged in it. Winemakers can normally order their barrels with Light Toast, Medium Toast or Heavy Toast. The 'toast' decision will be made based on the grape variety to be used in the barrel as well as the style of wine to be produced.

How did we not know this before now? I promise that no one has mentioned it to this point, and I know that we've had wine from Heavy Toasted barrels. One particular Cardonnay comes to mind, but that's a different story. Barrel toasting: yet another fascinating aspect of wine making.

No comments: