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Knights of the Vine RUSSIA


Wine

Looking for Prizewinners
With the help of the attentive GQ staff, Knights Of Vine Russia (KOVR) set off on the whites first, but anxiously awaited the reds. We started with the Via Montes Sauvignon Blanc Casablanca-Curico Valleys Classic Series 2006. Founded in 1987 in Colchagua Valley, Montes is one of the new generation of Chilean wineries. The Montes Chilean wines are imported in Russia by DP Trade. The line includes luxury and more affordable wines, all with a good price/quality ratio.
By Charles Borden
Photos by Alexey Gorov

The results of the Fourth Annual Wines of Chile Awards set us off on a mission to see just how many of this extensive list of 13 Best Of, 31 Gold, 83 Silver and 125 Bronze winners could be found on Moscow shelves. During visits to the four main wine boutique chains in Moscow, we found only two gold (Via Montes, Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 and Via MontGras Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2005) and one bronze (Via Ventisquero, Queulat Carmnre 2005). Though I have seen a few other wines on the Awards list in Moscow, notably Via Millaman Zinfandel Barrel Aged 2005, which has been a favorite, and Vina Viu Manent Secreto Sauvignon Blanc, we did not locate them for this review. For our own Best of Chile wine tasting at GQ Bar, we supplemented the Award winners we could find with some luxury classics such as Sena and Almaviva and other suggestions from the boutiques.

For Moscow wine buyers, Chilean wines are some of the best values and most reliable in every price range. Many award winning wineries have a number of wines on Moscow shelves, including Vina Montes, Vina Cousino Macul, Vina Errazuriz, Vina Caliterra, Vina Botalcura, Vina Millaman, and of course, Vina Concha y Toro, the giant of Chile.

Grapes were first planted in Chile almost 500 years ago when the conquistadores arrived. Chile has now become the California of South America in terms of volume, quality and reputation. Beginning in the 1980's, the inexpensive wines of Chile emerged on the world market. After the fall of dictator Augusto Pinochet, well-known winemakers from abroad came to Chile to expand, including Robert Mondavi from California, Miguel Torres from Spain, and Baron de Rothschild of France. The vineyards of Chile stretch north and south through valleys from Elqui 500 kilometers north of Santiago to Bio-Bio 1,000 kilometers to the south. As in California, the Pacific Ocean influence is felt through virtually all the regions.

KOVR wine tasting team this month was small, just eight members, and of course all gentlemen since the site was the GQ Bar (see restaurant review). We were honored to receive Sergio Valdes, Consul of Chile as a guest, who provided us with comments and encouragement. We even discussed a Knights of the Vine wine trip with him.

Sergio Valdes, Consul de Chili and John Ortega discuss one of the wines

With the help of the attentive GQ staff, we set off on the whites first, but anxiously awaited the reds. We started with the Via Montes Sauvignon Blanc Casablanca-Curico Valleys Classic Series 2006. Founded in 1987 in Colchagua Valley, Montes is one of the new generation of Chilean wineries. The Montes Chilean wines are imported in Russia by DP Trade. The line includes luxury and more affordable wines, all with a good price/quality ratio.

Though the Montes Sauvignon Blanc scored well, it was bested by the Chardonnays. Our best white was the Concha y Toro Casablanca Valley Chardonnay Amelia 2004. Founded in 1883, Concha y Toro is the giant of Chilean wineries with vineyards in many regions of the country and is considered one of the world's top mass-market wineries. Concha y Toro produces wines from luxury to basic and many are available in Moscow.

Concha y Toro Casablanca Valley Chardonnay Amelia 2004 (WS 89)

Nice creamy texture, with apple, fig, floral and mineral notes unencumbered by toast. Just a touch soft in the end, but still very stylish. A shade less concentrated than previous vintages. Drink now. 2,100 cases made. JM. Source: www.winespectator.com  

When we got to the reds, we decided to start with the expected high scorers, at least based upon price and reputation. We sampled a wide range of grapes and blends including Malbec, Merlot, and Carmenere.

Vina Sena 2000 (Aconcagua Valley)

Vina Sena was founded by Robert Mondavi and Eduardo Chadwick, President of Vina Errazuriz, in 1985. It took four years for them to locate just the right vineyards and they began a 50/50 venture to produce the Arboleda series of varietals and Sena. At $282 retail, Sena was the most expensive wine on our list. In 2004, the Robert Mondavi Winery was bought by Constellation Brands and divested of its luxury brands including Sena. As a result, the Chadwick family now operates Vina Sena. The winery now applies biodynamic viticulture. According to Vina Sena, "the winemaking team crafts Sea through a blend of six of the classic red varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Carmenere, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. Cabernet Sauvignon provides the structure while the other varieties add a subtle grace and elegance that classify Sea as a complex world-class wine."

Sena 2000 (Decanter rating - 5 stars)

Polish with cedary, cassis, berry aroma; seamless, with light tannin. Lovely spicy flavors. A finesse wine to drink now, or keep up to 8 years. Source: www.decanter.com

Almaviva 2002

Almaviva is probably the most widely available luxury Chilean red wine in Moscow, served at virtually all top restaurants. The Almaviva winery is a joint venture between Vina Concha y Toro and Baron Philippe de Rothschild. The name is derived from Pierre de Beaumarchais' character, the "Count of Almaviva" in the Marriage of Figaro. As expected, Almaviva rated well in this tasting.

Almaviva (WS 93)

A powerhouse, especially for the vintage, with black currant, coffee, bittersweet cocoa, loam and toast aromas and flavors that run along ripe tannins. Big, lush finish is filled with dark fruit and tar. Combines Maipo terroir with a modern style. Drink now through 2013. 10,000 cases made. JM. Source: www.winespectator.com

Montes Purple Angel 2004 (Colchagua Valley)

Purple Angel is made from Carmenere grapes. Carmenere is almost solely grown in Chile where it is called the "Jurassic Park" variety returned from extinction from its rediscovery in Chile. Cuttings of Carmenere were imported from Bordeaux in the 19th century often mixed with Merlot, which is similar. The grape was thought to be extinct since the phylloxera plague destroyed it in Europe in 1867.

Jon Russin

Mark Hanson

George Voloshin

Eric Boone

Charles Borden and William Reichert

Montes Purple Angel 2003 (WS 90)

Lots of mocha and toast, but a solid beam of plum, blueberry and blackberry fruit too. Sweet, suave smoke and tobacco notes on the fleshy finish, where the fruit takes an encore. Lovely mouthfeel throughout. 92 percent Carmenre and 8 percent Petit Verdot. Drink now through 2006. 1,000 cases made. JM. Source: Wine Spectator

Vina Viu Manent VIU 1 2004 (Colchagua Valley)

The Viu 1 scored as close to perfect as we could get. A Malbec wine, Viu 1 is rightly legendary and the flagship of Viu Manent produced in honor of the founder Don Miguel Viu Manent. Vina Viu Manent is located in the steep Colchagua Valley, one of the most expensive areas of production in Chile. Called the "Napa of Chile," Colchagua is about 120 kilometers southwest of Santiago and has a balmy, Mediterranean climate. Founded in 1937, Viu Manent is still a family winery, but New Zealand winemaker Grant Phelps has strengthened the winemaking team. He has had a particularly strong influence on the Sauvignon Blanc the bronze winner Vina Viu Manent Secreto Sauvignon Blanc can be found in Moscow.

Vina Viu Manent Viu 1 2003 (WS 89)

Solid, ripe, dark plum and raspberry fruit is layered with ambitious mocha, vanilla and coffee-tinged toast. Long, dark finish has a flash of mint, and nice texture despite its ampedup persona. Malbec and 10 percent Cabernet Sauvignon. Drink now through 2008. 850 cases made. JM. Source: www.winespectator.com

Raters

John Ortega Master Knight, KOVR, Publisher and Owner Passport Magazine
Charles Borden Director Meridian Capital
William Reichert Attorney-at-Law Akin Gump
Mark Hanson Sales Director Advance Equities
George Voloshin International Business Direcor
Sergio Valdes Consul de Chile
Jon Russin Partner Russin and Vecchi
Eric Boone Deputy Director GDO City Properties

Ortega easy rating system

I love this wine! 5 pts.
I really like this wine! 4 pts.
This wine is good! 3 pts.
This wine is not that good! 2 pts.
I dont really care for this wine! 1 pt.

The ratings

retail USD retail rr rating purchased
white wines
Montes Classic Series Sauvignon Blanc 2006 $17.62 460r. 3.48 Magnum
Botalcura Chardonnay 2003 $36.02 940r. 3.70 KV
Concha Y Toro Amelia Chardonnay 2004 $36.93 964r. 3.74 Kauf
white wines $90.57
red wines
Vina Sena 2000 (Aconcagua Valley) $282.38 7,370r. 4.03 KV
Almaviva 2002 $130.65 3,410r. 3.96 KV
Montes Purple Angel 2004 (Colchagua Valley) $83.14 2,170r. 3.72 Magnum
Viu Manet VIU 1 2004 (Colchagua Valley) $79.31 2,070r. 4.52 Magnum
Valdivieso Caballo Loco Number 8 (Central Valley) $93.87 2,450r. 4.18 KV
Ventisquero Queulat Carmenere 2005 $32.18 840r. 3.63 Magnum
Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 $48.66 1 ,270r. 3.91 Magnum
Coyam 2003 Vina Organica Emiliana $44.44 1 ,160r. 3.62 KV
Concha Y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Merlot 2005 $16.02 418r. 4.01 Kauf
Montgras Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 $13.60 355r. 3.67 Kauf
Chateau Los Boldos Grand Cru 2005 Single Vineyard $45.75 1 ,194r. 4.01 Kauf
red wines $963.87

The wines were purchased retail at three wine boutiques: Magnum (DP), Kollektion Wine (KV) and Kauffman.







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