Tag Archives: Chile

Drinking Tonight: Terrenal Chardonnay

Risotto and a Chilean Chardonnay from Trader Joe’s for dinner tonight. It’s Kosher, too – let’s see what we’ve got!

Terrenal Chardonnay (2013) Curico Valley, Chile – $6

Photo0286Color: pale straw yellow.

Aroma: lots of apple and pear, with just a touch of vanilla.

Taste: quite nice – apple, pear, a hint of white grape, and no discernable oak. It’s balanced and clean, with good acidity – this is a food wine, not a thick buttery Chardonnay.

This is very well put together – especially considering it was harvested just 8 months ago! Quite nice for the price; I’d have no hesitation pouring this for dinner with friends, let alone a company party. Recommended!


Winetasting Report: Kroger Centerville

I met up with Rick and Ralph for a quick tasting at Kroger in Centerville. A fair-to-middling tasting, with the star being the Merlot from Chile.

Franciscan Chardonnay (2011) Napa Valley, California – $20

Clean and crisp, with light to medium oak. The oak comes through more in the texture than in the taste. An oaky Chardonnay that’s well made – this isn’t fat, flabby, or hot

Photo0249Lapostolle Cuvee Alexandre Merlot (2009) Colchagua Valley, Chile – $20

Very dark in country, and it has a big nose – chocolate and cherry. Tart and tannic, with more cocoa on the palate. Textbook Chilean Merlot (this includes 15% Carmenere), with a big, chewy mouthfeel and some heat and earth towards the finish. After it opens up a bit, the tannins are pleasantly dusty.

Lapostolle Cuvee Alexandre Syrah (2008) Cachapoal Valley, Chile – $28

In case you’re wondering, Cachapoal is a subdivision of the Rapel Valley that was recently delineated. This has some meatiness on the nose, and is also extremely dark. It’s a little weak on the palate, however. It promises a lot up front but doesn’t quite deliver.

St. Francis Cabernet Sauvignon (2009) Sonoma County, California – $20

This is not particularly dark or fruit-forward for a California Cab. It has more red fruit (raspberry, cherry, red currant) than black fruit. A little tight as well. A sub-par wine for St. Francis.

BV BeauRouge (2009) Napa Valley, California – $30

This has everything but the kitchen sink in it – Merlot, Cab, Zin, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Sangiovese, Carignan, and Touriga Nacional! It gives a big tannic punch up front, and then the earthy/smoky grapes (Zin, Petite Sirah, Carignan, Touriga) dominate in the mouth. It falls off quickly, however. Not worth the money, unfortunately.

Drinking Tonight: Trader Joe’s Viñas Chilenas Cabernet

A sister bottling to the Merlot I tried a few weeks ago; I’m drinking this with some veggie pizza tonight.

Trader Joe’s Viñas Chilenas Cabernet Sauvignon (2012) Central Valley, Chile – $4.70

Photo0242Color: quite purple, shading out to purple-red on the edges.

Aroma: plum and cassis, but a significant mineral note underneath. A little eucalyptus too?

Taste: a decent mouthfull up front, but not much finesse – and the finish is a little raw as well. I think this needs more time in the bottle. With some air and some food, not much improvement. I think the Merlot is definitely a better deal with this line.



Drinking Tonight: Trader Joe’s Viñas Chilenas Merlot

A cheap TJ Merlot from Chile’s Central Valley.  This is the 2012 vintage, purchased for $4.70. I’m having this with some warm goat cheese, and then a simple green salad.

Photo0232Color: quite dark reddish-purple. Good Chilean Merlots have that cool-climate color and can be fully extracted without overdoing the alcohol. Very promising.

Aroma: blueberry, blackberry, dark cherry, and a hint of bramble.

Taste: a great bottle for under $5! This has plenty of fruit, good structure and depth, enough tannin for food, a touch of oak, and a nice motion of flavors across the tongue. It’s also not too acidic, which is the number one fault of most domestic Merlots.

Recommended! I’ll probably sock away a case in the cellar for fall and winter drinking.  I think this would go well with roasted root vegetables and cous-cous, lean grilled beef, or lamb.


Drinking Tonight: Panilonco Merlot-Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon

Two more Chileans from Trader Joe’s.  I’m making a spicy steak pizza and thought these would be good pairings.  The blend is 50-50.

Photo0170Panilonco Merlot-Malbec (2011) Colchagua Valley, Chile, $6.00

Color: very dark purple

Aroma: fruity, with lots of black plum and a hint of cassis.

Taste: pretty standard Merlot profile; the Malbec adds a little bit of spiciness up front and some tannin on the end.  It’s also a little hot; the Merlot might have been picked too early.

Panilonco Cabernet Sauvignon (2011) Colchagua Valley, Chile $6.00

Color: Cabernet red with a slight tinge of ochre on the rim; oak-aged most likely.

Aroma: not very big – some spice, a little bit of cherry fruit.

Taste: cassis and cocoa; the oak is just right for a New World styled wine. On the finish, this has dried fruit and some herbal notes as well.  It’s a little jammy for my tastes, but it has enough acidity for food.

A good selection: neither are world-beaters, but they both have something good to offer, and certainly fit the “value wine” category,


Drinking Tonight: Panilonco Chardonnay-Viognier, La Granja Tempanillo, La Granja Grenache-Syrah

Two-course dinner this evening – starting with a Grilled Caesar Salad, then having herb-rubbed grilled pork chops and potato salad.  I’m having the 80% Chardonnay – 20% Viognier blend from Chile with the salad, and comparing the two Spanish reds with the pork. The wines are all Trader Joe’s exclusives.

Photo0153Panilonco Chardonnay-Viognier (2012) Colchagua Valley, Chile

Color: medium yellow, straw verging on gold.

Aroma: tropical and apple/pear fruit, plus floral/honeysuckle together; you can tell from the nose that this is a blend.

Taste: almost no oak – the astringency comes from the tropical and citrus notes. A big full body without being heavy or numbing on the tongue. The richness of the Viognier really shines through – nice job on the blending proportions.

This is a great wine for $6.  Recommended.

La Granja Tempranillo (2012) Cariñena, Spain

Color: vibrant purple-red.

Aroma: fresh and dried cherries, rose petal, a hint of spice. Classic Tempranillo.

Taste: Mmm, this is why I love a good Spanish red. A nice complex of berry fruit, pepper, and cherry, with a little hint of old leather and some tannin on the finish. Silky. Not especially long, but what do you expect for $5?

I can’t believe this is only $5.  Recommended – I’m ordering a case.  I wouldn’t put much age on this, but this will keep me and my pork chops, my stuffed pork loins, my pork medallions, and my pork sausages happy for the next year or so.  It’s got a pig on the label, in case you need the hint!

La Granja Grenache-Syrah (2012) Cariñena, Spain.

Color: dark garnet red

Aroma: plum and pepper

Taste: fuller, more like a Rhone red. This is definitely an international style. The tannins are much fuller on the back of the tongue, with a dollop of vanilla (American oak, I’m guessing) as well.

A 50-50 blend for $7. Not my favorite of the night, but it had stiff competition.  I think this would do better with a spicy pizza, chili, or a big, messy cheeseburger.

Drinking Tonight: Panilonco Carmenere (2012)

A follow-up to a few days ago, where I tasted the 2011 vintage.  Let’s see how this one fares.

Color: if anything, even more purple and dark. This is verging on Petite Sirah levels of opacity.

Aroma: big jammy fruit again, but with more cocoa and spice underneath. A more complex aroma than the 2011.

Taste: yes, this is more like it. A bigger mouthful of fruit up front, with nice layers of cocoa, toast, and brambly spice. The cocoa and toast are noticeably long on the finish.

This vintage is definitely better than the 2011. A good bottle to have on hand for $6 to serve with a pizza, cheeseburgers, or spice-rubbed steak. I’d even serve this with a summer berry dessert like trifle.