Friday, March 15, 2013

1865 Wines of Chile; a history of quality wines at an affordable price

Vina San Pedro winemaker Marco Puyo leads a winetasting seminar at Puro Chile in New York

 by Dwight Casimere

NEW YORK--Puro Chile, the design, tourism and wine shop devoted to all things Chile in New York's SoHo design district was the apt setting for the stunning wines of Vina San Pedro, all under the 1865 label, presented by its chief winemaker, Marco Puyo. The wines, each from a different growing region, displayed the diversity and complexity of Chilean wines and showed the contrasting styles and characteristics that set wines of the New World apart from all others. The beauty of Vina San Pedro wines is that they are an outstanding value at an average price of $18 a bottle.

"I think what you'll see here is the marked difference of the soils and climates of each of our growing regions, and their impact on the wine. In at least one case, you might even be fooled into thinking you are drinking something other than wine from Chile!" Marco Puyo spoke with a flourish as he poured the first of his wines, 1865 Sauvignon Blanc 2011 vintage ($18). Made with 100% Sauvignon Blanc, the wine is crisp and dry, but possesses a good deal of lush citrus fruit, making it an ideal wine for just sipping or with seafood and light springtime salads. 

Contrary to popular belief in the U.S., Chile is not new to the world of winemaking. It's just that, until recently, most of the great wine produced in that country, never left its shores. An expanding global wine market has changed all of that and now, the Chilean wine market has proliferated and there is an abundance of Chilean wine available in local stores around the country. History shows that Chile's wine industry began about the time of the American Civil War, with French and other European winemakers migrating to the area after a major outbreak of phyloxera in Europe. Chilean vines were never impacted by the disease, so the wine you drink from that country today is made from grapes grown on the same original rootstock that was imported from France. In fact, Chile is home to the "lost grape" of France, Carmenere. Viña San Pedro was founded in 1865 in the early days of the European migration. The winery has made outstanding wines from the outset and in 2011, Wine Enthusiast magazine named it New World Winery of the Year. A tasting run-through of the wines quickly showed why it received the accolade.

The wines are aged in a mix of old and new barrels, with each getting aged in 95% Fench oak and 5% American oak prior for 12 months prior to blending.

Vina San Pedro Malbec 2010 from the Maule Valley is an outstanding example of this indigenous grape. Sourced from the southern portion of Chile's Central Valley,  where the rich, dark volcanic soil lends a turned earth backbone to the rich bramble and dark fruit flavor of the wine itself. Deep purple in color, with an almost India ink opaqueness, the wine gushes with flavors of black plums, ripe mouth-staining blackberries and back notes of dried sage and cardamom.

"This is a great wine to have with mixed meats from the grill, which is how we like to have it down at the winery," Puyo emphasized, pointing to the array of tapas-like appetizers being passed around Puro Chile. "The wine has a nice lean structure with a lot of backbone from the minerality and the medium tannins and medium plus acidity."

Vina San Pedro 1865 Carmenere, also from the Maule Valley is an elegant example of this beautiful wine, which flourishes in Chile's Central Valley. The smoky, aromatic nose and flavors of ripe plum and black cherry make it a delicious complement to grilled or roasted meats, particularly game meats such as duck, pheasant or venison. If you're a fan of blue-veined cheeses or those made from sheep's or goat's milk, you'll find this wine especially pleasurable.

I saved the best tasting for last; the outstanding Vina San Pedro 1865 Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 from the Maipo Valley. Puyo became quite animated as he poured this wine. "Even though it was vinified and aged in much the same manner as the other wines, you'll notice a marked difference in the taste on the palate. The grapes were grown at a very high elevation in the Alto Maipo. That gives the grapes and the wine a very distinctive character that you only get in the north." This is a brisk, full-bodied wine with racy characteristics of firm tannins, and flavors of blackberry, tart cherry and a background of sweet oak. The lingering taste of sassafras and potpourri give it a unique lift that would make it a delight in the drawing room with a good after-dinnerr Maduro cigar!

Learn more about the wines at They are also readily  available  at Puro Chile’s Puro Wine store at: 161 Grand St New York, NY 10013. Check your local wine purveyor for availability outside of New York.

Marco Puyo, chief winemaker 1865
Dwight The Wine Doctor with Marco Puyo
Assorted tapas at Puro Chile
April Cullom Managing Director Global Bridges

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