New flavours from New World at winter fest

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Chilean cellar: The entrance to Vina Concha y Toro.

Look west, far west, as you sip the products of a skinny New World country that makes some great wines, designed to enhance food both casual and formal.

Travellers to Chile usually come back agog at the diverse beauty of this land of contrasts, a long strip of country stretching half the length of the South American Pacific coast, nowhere more than 240km wide. Most visitors spend time in the Central Valley, where the climate is mild and soil perfect for farming with fruit and grapes.

Not only is this where the majority of the population lives in the main cities, but also where there are large areas of vineyards.

Viña Concha y Toro is a large family-owned wine business with nearly 9 000ha of vineyards in both Chile and Argentina.

Established in 1883 by a successful entrepreneur who brought vine cuttings from Bordeaux to plant on his Maipo Valley estate, this heralded the start of a huge enterprise – Concha y Toro was the first winery in the world to be floated on the NY Stock Exchange, in 1994.

Last month Moises del Rio, their export manager, moved to the Cape where he will encourage South Africans to sample the products of his New World vines.

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Three of their ranges will be on show at the annual Winter Wine festival at Durbanville’s High Street Shopping village later this month.

Look out for the Trio Reserva – the single white is a pleasing blend of ’09 chardonnay, pinot grigio and pinto blanc (R85), crisp, not overly acidic, with tropical fruit and citrus balanced by definite minerality.

The 2009 blend of cab, cab franc and shiraz (R95) offers plentiful berry and spice in a smooth, accessible partner to meaty fare.

Cab also features in another Trio – a 2010 blend with merlot and carmenere (R95). The last named is a cultivar that has become Chile’s signature grape, having disappeared from European vineyards in the 19th century and then been discovered among Chilean merlot vineyards a century later.

Similar to merlot, it’s usually fruity and mildly spicy, with smooth tannins. Try a single varietal 2010 carmenere from Casillero del Diablo (R70), another well known Chilean operation which will be at the show.

I found it light, easy-drinking, a red for warm weather that could benefit from chilling. This “Cellar of the Devil”, with its explanatory legend on its label, will also pour its 2010 malbec (R70) and 2009 cab sauvignon/syrah blend (R140).

The Old World will also be represented at the show, with Italian wines being included for the first time. The Cape will, of course, take centre stage, with more than 30 local cellars exhibiting: red wines, ports, stickies and brandies will make seasonal cheer, but whites and bubbly won’t be left out.

Established restaurants will be augmented by some 20 food stalls with homemade goodies and fresh produce, and the Cape Wine Academy will host presentations in the wine theatre.

As before, Round Table Durbanville is the beneficiary of profits from ticket sales.

l The festival takes place from June 21 to 23. Tickets are R80 online at www.ticketbreak.co.za or R90 at the door. There are pensioner and group discounts. - Weekend Argus

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