Monday, June 28, 2010

Chile vs. Portugal


The last of our Round 1 taste-offs in the World Cup of wine is another potential barn burner - well, I suppose I'd settle for a palate-pleaser. Chile was seeded ahead of Portugal more because of the fact that Portugese red wines are more likely to be associated with Port than with any table wine. I do love Port but that's not the focus of this little exercise. Chile may still be known more for its mass market exports of value based wines than it is known for sophisticated, high-end wines, but the latter wines are definitely out there. We just won't be opening any of them in our little World Cup (unless they maybe make the final).

I'm simply looking forward to both.

502. 2006 Casas del Toqui - El Toqui Shiraz Reserva (D.O. Cachapoal Valley - Chile)

503. 2007 Quinta dos Roques - Quinta do Correio (D.O.C. Dao - Portugal)

Just as one might expect on the soccer pitch, this play down was rather close. And, just as both countries have interesting approaches on the field, there's a bit of intrigue behind both wines.

Casas del Toqui is an example of a new breed of wineries in South America. It's a partnership of an established Chilean winemaking family, the Granella's, and a Cru Bordeaux house from Medoc - Chateau Larose Trintaudon. We're seeing more and more wines in our market that are the product of these hemispheric partnerships. While the Shiraz/Syrah varietal isn't the most common red varietal coming out of Chile, it is becoming more available in our parts and it's not difficult to see why if all of those wines are as easy drinking (while still retaining a firm structured framework) as this one was. I don't think the El Toqui should take on an Aussie Shiraz quite yet, but we might see that yet in this World Cup.

The Dao, on the other hand, is a traditionally intriguing blend of indigenous Portugese grapes - Touriga Nacional, Jaen, Alfrocheiro, Tinta Roriz and Rufete. One website referred to the wine as having a distinctly Rhone-like palate. That might partially explain the somewhat similar profile to the Shiraz. It was also interesting to read that the winery's vineyards, until the 1980's, were planted more for table fruit production - largely apples and grapes. The current owner decided to change over to traditional wine grapes and now produces over 200,000 bottles a year. The conversion of tree fruit to vines is something that our Okanagan Valley is well aware of as well.

Nowadays, I'm on the lookout for Portugese table wines since a number of the wine scribes are pointing to Portugal as a real up-and-comer - much along the lines of Spain - on the red wine scene. This one didn't quite capture that level of excitement, but it was hardly a shutout either.

The result - Chile wins 2-1. Neither wine was exciting enough to say "book a ticket to the finals;" but we won't have any problem finishing off either bottle.

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