Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I Love Mussels

Apologies to Diana Ross. When she was singing about loving muscles, she was referring to the bicep-tual ones, not the bivalves. But, from my side of the dancefloor, you can't really go wrong with mussels, muscles or a little disco.

These additions to The List were "cooking wines" in the true sense of the words. They pretty much went entirely into the cooking or the cook's glass while slaving away in the kitchen. The mussel soup being made was going to scream Sauvignon Blanc and I figured that grabbing a couple different bottles would make for a nice comparison.

439. 2009 Caliterra Reserva Sauvignon Blanc (Valle de Casablanca - Chile)

440. 2009 Errazuriz Estate Sauvignon Blanc (Valle de Aconcagua - Chile)

Since a good portion of the bottles was going to make it into the actual pot, I kept to entry level pricing. The Caliterra was $12.50 and the Errazuriz was $13.99. It just seemed easier on the pocketbook than two bottles of Kiwi Sauv Blanc or Sancerre. The word on Chilean Sauv Blanc generally seems to like the quality for value scale as well. This was a way to check out two of the names I always see on our government liquor store shelves.

What I didn't realize until I did a little net surfing (after the fact) that both wineries are owned by the same folks. The Errazuriz family started up their namesake winery in 1870 and, together with the Mondavi family, started Caliterra in 1996. This was the first joint venture between a Chilean business and foreign investors. When Mondavi was bought up by the Constellation group in 2004, the Errazuriz family bought back the Mondavi share in Caliterra.

The two wineries are operated as separate entities however. Caliterra is located in the Colchagua Valley while Errazuriz is centred in the Aconcagua Valley. Both have their own vineyards and winemakers and there was a definite difference between the two wines. I'd likely go back to the Errazuriz first as I found it to have a more vibrant nose and bit more fruit on the palate. The Caliterra was a bit more in line with what I associate with an old-style New Zealand profile - more herbaceous and acidic. The difference may stem from the fact that the Errazuriz was aged for three months on its lees.

Both wineries are emphasizing their commitment to greening up their production. Caliterra is transitioning its vineyards to organic standards, while Errazuriz has some organically labeled wine already (not this Sauv Blanc though) and has reduced the weight of its wine bottles by 14% to reduce its carbon footprint when transporting the finished product.

The mussels and broth tasted great as well.

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