Federal Wine & Spirits

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This Week's Tasting:

Reds from Two Sides of the Andes
January 18, 2012

We've gotten in some exciting new wines from Chile and Argentina, and to fit Peter's sense of the order of the world, all but one are made by Italians.

Andean Vineyards


Vina Falernia

Growing up in Chile, Italian immigrant Aldo Olivier Gramola had a dream, to make as fine wines in Chile as his neighbors had in the sub-Alpine vineyards of his native Trentino. He would name it Falernia, after the finest wine of ancient Rome and he would grow his grapes in the mountains of course, like at home.

But he did something different. He planted his vines farther north, which is to say hotter, than Chilean wine vineyards had ever been. Previously the Elqui valley only grew vegetables and grapes for pisco brandy. Aldo planted higher up in the mountains than the brandy vineyards, in high desert more like Mendoza on the other side of the Andes in Argentina, than like any other vineyards in Chile.

He was onto something. Hot sunny days make the grapes get ripe and fat. Cold nights preserve acids to keep them from getting flabby. The combination of richness and vibrancy made his wines jump out on and stick to our palates.

We’ll be pouring all the Vina Falernia reds we tasted, a 2007 Carmenere-Syrah Reserva blend, the characterful 2007 Syrah Reserva, and the 2007 Carmenere Reserva from the highest vineyards of all.


Peter writes;

The Tikal Winery is the special project of Ernesto Catena, son of Nicolas, the guiding force behind Catena Winery. The Tikal wines are produced in small quantities and seek to showcase the inherent greatness of Mendoza. The 2008 Tikal Jubilo is a blend of old vine Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. This wine combines new world flesh with old world structure and will age gracefully for many years.

Patricio Reich moved his family from Chile to Mendoza with the idea of creating a really special winery, The result is Renacer (rebirth) and the winery and vineyards are truly amazing. The 2010 Renacer Malbec Punto Fino has an amazing depth and structure for a wine at this price. There is also a strong connection to Italy with both winemaker Alberto Antonini from Tuscany and the partnership with Marilisa Allegrini. Patricio and Marilisa worked together to produce Enamore, the only Amarone style wine produced in Argentina. The 2009 Renacer Enamore is a blend of several varieties, mostly Malbec, and is a wine of enormous richness and complexity.


Image above - Yes, you can apparently grow grapes here.

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