Mercado Chileno - 13 September, 2016
Mercado Chileno is an annual celebration of Chilean wine and the largest gathering of Chilean wineries in the northern hemisphere. Open exclusively to the trade during the day, at 5.30pm doors are thrown open to the public and the party heats up with some traditional Chilean folk music and dancing. The Old Truman Brewery provided a large airy venue for 52 wineries to showcase more than 400 wines and a couple of mixologists were on hand from artisan Pisco producer, Waqar, to demonstrate that there is more to Pisco than Pisco Sour.
The UK continues to be an important market for Chilean wines however wines from Chile often struggle to obtain premium prices here. They are frequently viewed as reliable good value products in the UK and higher price points are reserved for wines from other countries such as New Zealand for example. With the vast range of wines available at the event, it was a great opportunity to be able to sample some of the smaller production, single vineyard wines which Chile has to offer.
In addition to the producers’ stands, there were 3 tasting tables: Chile Champions featuring trophy winners from competitions held this year, Super Sparklers – a relatively new category for Chile but definitely one to watch, and The Carignan Club which featured dry farmed Carignan from the Maule Valley.
Finally, Café de Colombia was serving freshly brewed coffee from the Francini family farm, The Cake Queen had whipped up an amazing display of Chilean cakes, pastries and savoury empanadas, and Chilean chef, Francisco Hernandez was preparing some traditional Chilean specialities including ceviche served on banana bread.
Profiled below are 3 producers whose wines I particularly enjoyed, plus 4 additional stars from the Chile Champions collection.
Viña Tabalí is one of the oldest wineries in the Limarí Valley, in the north of Chile. Its location, close to both the Atacama Desert and the Pacific Ocean, combined with its pure limestone soils, creates a somewhat unique terroir ideally suited for the production of high quality wines. Vines benefit from an average temperature of 23C and cooling mists which roll in from the sea in the afternoon and evening.
Reserva Especial Chardonnay, 2014 – from selected grapes from the best vineyards of Tabalí, this is rich, tropical and concentrated with a long lingering finish.
Talinay Chardonnay, 2014 – from vineyards cooled by the “Camanchaca” morning mists, this wine was barrel fermented in French oak for 11 months. As a result, it has great acidity, a good concentration of pure fruit and excellent oak integration.
Tabalí Pedregoso Viognier Gran Reserva, 2015 – this wine oozes ripe citrus, white peach, apricots and cream – simply gorgeous!
Established in 1885, Viña Undurraga’s main winery is in the Maipo Valley and they have vineyards in Alto Maipo, Colchagua, Cachapoal, Leyda and Maule. Their intention is to grow the best grapes possible to produce fruit forward wines with minimal intervention.
T.H. Syrah Leyda, 2013 – The “Terroir Hunter” range is produced from some of the best grapes from their smaller vineyards. This Syrah is intense, rich and jam-packed with blackcurrants and bramble fruits, with hints of black pepper and coconut.
T.H. Cabernet Sauvignon Alto Maipo, 2013 – this very elegant Cabernet Sauvignon was aged in French oak for 12 months and has an excellent concentration of ripe black fruit and a long silky finish.
Altazor, 2012 – also featured in Chile Champions - is the signature wine of Undurraga. This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Carménère and Carignan is intense and earthy, full of wild blackberries and cassis and has soft elegant tannins.
Viña Tamaya is also located in the Limari Valley very close to the ocean, the Andes Mountains and the Atacama Desert. It is a relatively young winery and was established in 2001. Tamaya means “High Scenic Viewpoint” and Tamaya is also the name of the highest hill in the area.
Viognier Reserva, 2015 – from vines of around 10 years old, this Viognier had great typicity, with plenty of ripe white peaches and fresh apricots.
Winemaker’s Gran Reserva Chardonnay, 2013 – a big, bold concentrated Chardonnay with ripe tropical fruit, honey, vanilla, complementing acidity and a very long finish.
T Limited Release Malbec, 2012 – a spicy full bodied Malbec with an excellent concentration of black plums and blueberries supported by firm tannins with hints of smoke and ash.
T Limited Release Syrah, 2012 – also featured in Chile Champions - this deeply coloured Syrah had a fantastic concentration of cooked black fruit, violet, ripe silky tannins and well integrated oak.
T Sparkling Brut Nature Blanc de Blancs, Chardonnay, 2012 – also featured in Super Sparklers – this traditional method Blanc de Blancs had aromas of white flowers, followed by fresh green apples and zesty lime on the palate combined with mouth-watering acidity, rich biscuity notes and a huge dollop of cream.
Chilcas Single Vineyard Chardonnay, 2013 – VIA Wines, Itata Valley - aged on its lees for 12 months in French oak, this is a very big Chardonnay packed full of stone and tropical fruits including fresh mango, pineapple and peach.
Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012 – Carmen, Alto Maipo - a rich and concentrated Cabernet Sauvignon aged for 10 months in French oak, this is elegant and silky smooth with gorgeous dark chocolate notes.
Neblus Syrah, 2012 - Viña Casablanca, Casablanca – a rich jammy nose, heaps of black fruit, soft chewy tannins and an oaky finish – stunning!
Pequeñas Producciones Syrah, 2014 - Casas del Bosque, Casablanca – aged for 18 months in French oak and bottled without filtration, this wine has notes of blackcurrant, dark chocolate and a hint of liquorice – simply fabulous!
It was my first time at Mercado Chileno and the range of producers and vast selection and style of wines did not disappoint. It was also interesting to see a number of new sparkling wines at the show; definitely a new category to keep an eye on. Thanks to Wines of Chile for arranging such an enjoyable event. See you next year!
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