Bristol Bites wine columnist Bryn Stephens heads over to a Chilean wine tasting evening at Culver Street’s Averys Wine Cellars.
A couple of weeks ago I attended a tasting at Averys Wine Cellars on Culver Street, one of my old stomping grounds.
Viva Vitis is a new venture by one of Avery’s staff members, the glorious Gloria Vasquez, a Chilean born in Valparaiso. The goal is to introduce people to Chilean wine through tasting, videos, photographs, music, food, and of course the guidance of WSET Diploma studying Gloria. Sat in the extremely well presented Averys Cellars, I wondered what kind of evening we were in for, with the smell of empanadas slowly cooking in the kitchen, Chilean music wafting lazily through the air, and the helpers rushing about laying tables and glasses. The atmosphere started to build as the guests arrived and sat down at the tables, neatly presented with glasses and tasting sheets. All set!
On the tasting menu were six wines, two whites, three reds and a sticky to finish off the evening. Gloria took us through each expertly, explaining exactly where in Chile they came from, some of the processes behind them and the occasional story of working on the vineyards in Chile. It was a top evening, and I suggest that all beginners should do as many evenings like this as you can. They really are invaluable!
But now to the heart of the matter, the wines themselves!
Averys Pioneer Range Sauvignon Blanc 2010 – Leyda Valley – 13.5% ABV – £8.99
Intense nose of peas and green pepper to start, opening out to tropical fruit, lycee, passion fruit. Certainly intense. This goes straight through to the actually quite creamy palate, intensely fruity with a rapier like acidity that leaves the mouth watering; great length too. Superb value Sauvignon Blanc carrying on the good name of the Averys Pioneer range of wines. Would be perfect as an aperitif, but will go well with fish, chicken, salads and anything summery…. If we ever get a summer….
Los Vascos Chardonnay 2010 – Casablanca Valley – 14% ABV – £9.49
Sweet honey melon, with touches of hazelnut and banana on the nose, although it is quite restrained. Opens out to a hint of peach. Medium bodied and creamy palate, with a balancing acidity, but a slightly too overpowering alcoholic kick on the finish. It is decent enough but not my cup of tea.
Tamaya Syrah Reserva 2009 – Limari Valley – 13.5% ABV – £9.99
Massive nose of blackcurrant and dark berry fruit. Touches of peppery spice, chocolate and just a flutter of black cherry. Scent literally bellows out of the glass suggesting a massive wine underneath? But no! – it’s actually quite elegant. Medium bodied in my opinion with a good acidity on the finish. Not much tannin so I would say this is one for the early to mid term drinking, maybe over the next 3-4 years or so. It would compliment a massive slice of cow quite well really… I like it, you might too.
Averys Project Winemaker Carmenere 2010 – Colchagua Valley – 14% ABV – £8.99
Carmenere has always been a bit of an enigma to me. Two wines from the same region made in the same way, with similar flavour profiles have both worked and failed for my palate. I remember tasting this one a while back as a taster whilst working in the office and thinking it didn’t quite work… yet…. So I was looking forward to trying it again to see how it had developed. Very well if you ask me! Inviting, warm nose of plum, graphite, blackcurrant and just a lick of spice, create a sense of amicability about this wine. Just a touch of tannin and a well judged acidity on the palate balance out the lovely fresh plummy fruit. It’s a simple fellow, but its impossible not to like, and at the price it’s exceptional quality. Bravo!
Domaine Barons de Rothschild ’Le Dix de Los Vascos’ 2008 – Colchagua Valley – 14% ABV – £26.99
The highlight of the evening for me. Wonderfully complex nose of raspberry and cherry syrup, with notes of fresh blackcurrant. As the air gets in, touches of pastry, sausage meat, clove and fresh sweet tobacco appear. On the palate, the mix gets even more compelling with a flirty poke of mint along with all that blackcurrant fruit. The length is amazing, it just keeps coming back when you think it is gone. It’s a warm, embracing and sensual wine that delights, flirts, attacks, and pleases in so many different ways. Simply stunning! Well worthy of the price tag, it is still young, and I would recommend keeping it for 5-10 years or more (if you can resist it).
Casa Silva Late Harvest Cosecha Tardia – 2011 – Colchagua Valley – 13.5% ABV – £9.99
Inviting nose of sweet grapes, orange wine gums and touches of tropical fruit, mango and passion fruit. Honeyed and rich on the palate, but in my opinion lacking acidity to balance the fruit, so it seems a bit… ungainly? Does that work? Well im going to go with it. Palate opens with touches of sweet melon, and notes of rose water. Its ok, but for me not quite all there. For a budget sticky, there are other options at the same price I feel offer greater depth and character.
So there we go folks. The Dix de Los Vascos was certainly the wine of the evening for me, with honourable mentions for the Pioneer Range Sauvignon Blanc and the Tamaya Syrah.
If you would like Gloria to come to your home and host a wine tasting for you and your buddies, do get in contact with her by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, and you can follow them on Facebook under Viva Vitis.
All of these wines are available at the Averys Cellars, and through www.averys.com. Go and enjoy sometime!
Find Averys of Bristol on the Bristol Bites Directory…