Dale pours one of the evening's red wines from Chile
Dale pours one of the evening's red wines from Chile

S ometimes the best comments come at the end of a tasting. You’ve had a chance to sample, compare, make no
tes, mental or otherwise, then try to decide what you liked best and put it all in perspective. Tonight’s presenter, Walter Sagrera, of Southern Wine and Spirits, likened the Veramonte wines as a Mardi Gras parade. A fun event with the marching bands at the start, then the grand krewes that liven things up then comes the royalty. Tonight’s Veramonte Reserva wines were the marching bands, the Rituals were the grand krewes and Primus was the royalty.

I think that is a great way to describe this fine line of wines.

All three wine labels are part of Veramonte and all are imported by Huneeus Vintners. That name says it all as Agustin Huneeus is known as a legendary winemaker, having directed many major projects in Chile and California. All of the wines tonight can be traced back to his influence.

But we need to make a bit of a full disclosure…. tonight was a Chilean Wine Seminar but in fact one wine is from Argentina. What a difference a couple of hundred miles can do. Just over the Andes the climate in Mendoza, Argentina makes for a great Malbec. On the Chilean side of the Andes you won’t find much Malbec just as you won’t you won’t find any Carmenere in Argentina. Climate makes all the difference.

The royalty, the Primus label, comes from older established vines and spends a little more time aging in the barrel. “Primus is a relatively new project.” said Sagrera, “Imagine what these wines will be like in 2020.”

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Veramonte is located in the remote Casablanca Valley alongside Chile’s rugged Pacific Coast. The wild Patagonia lies to their south and the mighty Andes Mountains rise behind us in the east. In this distant winemaker’s paradise, 1,000 acres of grapevines nestled among 11,000 acres of wild land that Veramonte has preserved as a natural greenbelt.

Stay tuned. We’ll be posting more quotes shortly but for now here are some photos from the really nice tasting.

Where: Wine World, 133 Georgia Ave., North Augusta, SC

e-mail: wineworld@wineworldsc.com.
When: Friday, June 8, 2012, 7pm.
Cost: $20.

Here are the wines presented (click to see more):

  1. Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2010
  2. Veramonte Chardonnay Reserva 2009
  3. Veramonte Pinot Noir Reserva 2009
  4. Veramonte Carmenere 2010
  5. Veramonte Merlot 2009
  6. Veramonte Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
  7. Ritual Sauvignon Blanc 2011
  8. Ritual Pinot Noir 2009
  9. Primus The Blend 2008
  10. Primus Malbec 2010
  11. Primus Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

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Here are the detailed wine notes:
Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2010
100% Sauvignon Blanc. 13.5% alc
Bright and clear with subtle green hues with juicy lemon and lime fruit aromas with hints of crisp green apple. Medium-bodied with tropical and citrus fruit flavors of white grapefruit and lime with a long crisp finish and some minerality.

Sauvignon Blanc grapes are grown in the estate vineyards across a total of 47 vineyard blocks. The 2010 vintage was a little later than usual because of the cool Spring. This led to lower yields which increased aromatics and complexity and provided beautiful acidity and mineral notes on the palate.
From: Casablanca Valley, Chile

Year: 2010

Veramonte Chardonnay Reserva 2009
Chile’s Casablanca Valley is surrounded by coastal mountain ranges creating a diversity of unique microclimates and terroir. Close proximity to the Pacific Ocean provides an exceptionally long growing season for grapes to mature naturally with intense of fruit flavors.

Chardonnay enjoys the long, even season in the coolest areas of the Veramonte estate. Fruit is harvested in cool night and early morning hours to preserve freshness. The grapes are then pressed and fermented in stainless steel tanks with a small portion in oak to add texture, complexity and depth. Excellent wine for light meals, salads and seafood.
From: Casablanca Valley, Chile
Winery: Veramonte
Year: 2009

Veramonte Pinot Noir Reserva 2009
100% Pinot Noir. French and American Oak, 15% new barrels. 14% alc.
Bright cherry red in color. Intense and fresh aromas of red berries with floral notes.
A soft, round, medium-bodied wine with complex flavors of red berry fruits and spice balanced by long silky tannins. At Veramonte, Pinot Noir is hand-sorted before it is destemmed and whole-berry crushed. The grapes cold macerate for five days and fermentation begins in small, open-top tanks. The must is punched down three times a day for two days. Primary fermentation is completed in
tank after maceration, then malolactic fermentation takes place in oak barrels. The wine then ages in temperature controlled cellars for 10 months. “In South America, Chile will be the leader in Pinot Noir and Casablanca is one of the leading areas. The Casablanca Valley climate is very similar to California’s Russian River Valley and the wines have power, richness and depth with inky color. “Veramonte ‘s program is a pioneering project for Pinot Noir. There are only a handful of wineries with such a heavy focus on Pinot at this time in Chile. “–Paul Hobbs I Consulting Winemaker

Year: 2009

Veramonte Carmenere 2010
Chile is the leading global producer of Carmenere, the acclaimed “lost noble grape”. While Carmenere grows well in several Chilean regions, it is Colchagua, where Carmenere grows best. Its Mediterranean climate and extraordinary terrior allows full, natural development of Carmenere’s aromas and flavors, producing wines with great richness and character.

Veramonte´s Carmenere features intense red and black fruit aromas, juicy ripe fruit flavors and mature tannins with balanced acidity. Oak aging gives the wine complexity, a hint of toast and a soft, elegant finish.
8 months, 50% French and 50% American oak. 13.5% Alc. Beautiful deep purplish-red in color. Black pepper aromas and notes of smooth black chocolate, tobacco and species. Flavorful and intense on the palate, with excellent typicity. Balanced texture, firm sweet tannins and a long finish, beautifully integrated oak.
From: Casablanca Valley, Chile
Winery: Veramonte
Year: 2010

Veramonte Merlot 2009
8 months, 50% French and 50% American oak. 13.5% alc. Dark ruby red in color. The aroma has blackberries, plums and blueberries with hints of black pepper. Fresh red berry fruit flavors with subtle and elegant oak characters. The 2009 Merlot is hand-harvested fruit from our V eramonte Estate vineyard hillside plantings in Casablanca. We implement aggressive canopy management, that results in ripe and polished fruit with a long finish. Veramonte is located in the remote Casablanca Valley alongside Chile’s rugged Pacific Coast. The wild Patagonia lies to our south and the mighty Andes Mountains rise behind us in the east. In this distant winemaker’s paradise, 1,000 acres of grapevines nestled among 11,000 acres of wild land that Veramonte has preserved as a natural greenbelt.
From: Casablanca Valley, Chile
Winery: Veramonte
Year: 2009

Veramonte Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
8 Months in French and American oak, 20% new. 94% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Cabernet Franc and 2% Merlot. 13.5% alc. Color is deep, dark ruby red. Concentrated blackberry and black cherry aromas with well integrated oak. Dense, red and black fruit highlighted with earthy notes and a touch of oak. Plush with soft, elegant tannins leading to a long finish. The Colchagua Valley experienced an optimum growing season with excellent ripening. Extended hang time resulted in deep concentration of flavors framed by structured yet elegant tannins. Veramonte is located in the remote Casablanca Valley alongside Chile’s rugged Pacific Coast. The wild Patagonia lies to our south and the mighty Andes Mountains rise behind us in the east. In this distant winemaker’s paradise, 1,000 acres of grapevines nestled among 11,000 acres of wild land that Veramonte has preserved as a natural greenbelt.
From: Casablanca Valley, Chile
Winery: Veramonte
Year: 2009

Ritual Sauvignon Blanc 2011
In the 1990’s, Agustin Huneeus identified Casablanca Valley as having potential to become a world class wine appellation. Featuring a moderate climate with gentle Pacific breezes and early morning fog, he noticed that Casablanca Valley’s microclimates and soils were similar to California’s prestigious Napa Valley. In fact, Casablanca Valley is ideal for fresh, crisp, white varietals that produce wines with minerality, bright fruit flavor and balanced acidity.
Fast forward 10 years: Veramonte estate in Casablanca Valley has over 1,100 acres under plant, a state of the art winemaking facility and has emerged as Chile’s #1 producer of quality Sauvignon Blanc.
Building on Huneeus’ vision and the success of Veramonte’s Sauvignon Blanc program, Ritual was created as an elegant, yet approachable interpretation of Sauvignon Blanc. Only the finest estate-grown fruit from vineyard blocks known to produce intense fruit flavors and higher acidity are chosen for this wine.
The resulting wine is medium bodied, featuring a rounder, more textural mouth feel with balanced acidity. Intense flavors of ripe tropical fruit mingle with hints of citrus in structured complexity from 5 months of French Oak aging. The experience ends with a long, smooth finish.
100% Sauvignon Blanc. 5 months in 100% French oak. 13.5% alc. Bright straw with green hues. Intense aromas of ripe passionfruit and pineapple with subtle floral notes. Only the best fruit from two of our finest vineyards is selected for Ritual Sauvignon Blanc. The Gloria vineyard is in the coolest are of the Veramonte estate which gives us fresh fruit flavors with high acidity that softens beautifully with barrel fermentation. The Mauco block, part of our organic vineyards, gives the wine complexity and mouthfeel. Fermentation takes around 22 days at low temperatures and the wine benefits from lees contact for 5 months. 2011 Ritual Sauvignon Blanc is an elegant and balanced wine with ripe tropical fruit flavors, beautiful floral notes and hints of citrus fruit. This medium-bodied wine is fresh with a persistent finish.
From: Casablanca Valley, Chile
Winery: Veramonte
Year: 2011

Ritual Pinot Noir 2009
100% Pinot Noir. 100% French oak, 40% new for 12 months. 14.0%alc. Bright ruby red in color. Aroma shows black cherry, raspberry and blueberry. The grapes are hand-harvested at first light in the cool morning in small batches and carefully double-sorted.
A cold maceration for 3-5 days encourages color before whole berries are fermented with wild yeasts to increase depth, intensity and complexity. Gentle punch downs in small open-top tanks three times a day bring out Casablanca’s trademark deep color. Malolactic fermentation and aging in French oak barrels enhances elegance and richness. 2009 Ritual opens with fresh and fruity aromas of black cherries, raspberries and blueberries. The palate is round and soft with silky tannins. A fresh and elegant wine with well-integrated oak and subtle hints of toast.
From: Casablanca Valley, Chile
Winery: Veramonte
Year: 2009

Primus "The Blend"
Primus "The Blend"

Primus The Blend 2008
For over 10 years, The Blend has been one of Chile’s top red wines, expressing power and finesse by merging Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot and Carmenère, the “lost” Bordeaux varietal.
Agustin Huneeus, creator of some the world’s best red blends including Magnificat and Quintessa, developed Primus, which leverages winemaking techniques used by Napa Valley’s top Cabernets and Red Blends: Colchagua Valley´s yields are managed to 2-3 tons per acre, grapes are meticulously double sorted before crush, and French oak aging.
Aged in the finest French and American oak for 14 months, this wine delivers world-class quality in the glass featuring rich, dense fruit, exotic spice and a long textured finish.
From: Chile
Winery: Veramonte
Year: 2008

Primus Malbec 2010
Primus Malbec represents the unique character of high-altitude, old-vines from Mendoza and comes primarily from vineyards in one of Mendoza’s oldest regions.

The grapes are hand harvested, cooled and double sorted. Whole berry fermentations occur in temperature controlled concrete and stainless steel tanks. The wines age for 14 months in French oak.
82% Malbec, 10% Syrah, 8% Petit Verdot. 14 months in French oak, 30% new. 14.5% alc. Deep violet purple in color. Aroma has dark plum, blackberry and violet notes.
Raspberry, plum and blueberry flavors merge with floral notes of violet, subtle black pepper and tobacco. Full and structured, with well-integrated tannins and a lengthy finish.

“The 2010 vintage was a dry season with a warm summer and a temperate fall which allowed grapes to fully ripen producing nice concentrated wine with a lot of fruit. The grapes were hand harvested, cooled and double sorted, first as whole clusters and then as single berries after destemming. Whole berry fermentations occurred in temperature controlled concrete and stainless steel tanks.”- Cristian Aliaga Winemaker.

Primus wines are crafted by a team of expert viticulturists and winemakers led by winemaker, Cristian Aliaga, who has over 10 years’ experience at Veramonte. Alvaro Espinoza, one of the world’s most respected winemakers, widely known as an innovator and champion of some of Chile’s best red wines, joined the team to craft the Primus wines. Alvaro works closely with the team to continually refine vineyard and winery practices that deliver rich, ripe fruit with complexity, intensity and distinctiveness.
From: Chile
Winery: Veramonte
Year: 2010

Primus Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Syrah. 14 months in French oak, 25% new. 14.5% alc. Deep, dark opaque red in color. Aroma has ripe black berry fruit with a subtle hint of toasty oak. Red and black berry fruit flavorsvwith hints of dried plums, fresh acidity and a long finish with fine, elegant tannins.
The fruit for Primus Cabernet Sauvignon comes from our Marchigue vineyards in Colchagua Valley, an area with an ideal warm climate and soils that are well-suited for growing red wines. The grapes for Primus Cabernet Sauvignon are carefully selected by double-sorting by hand. A long cold maceration enhances the fruit characters while gentle extraction during fermentation avoids any heavy tannins and highlights the elegance of this wine.
From: Chile
Winery: Primus
Year: 2009


1 Comment

  1. This was my first wine tasting event. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about wine history. As a shopper for wine, I fell better informed,and now have a frame of reference to draw from before making my next wine purchase. Everyone was friendly. The presentation was awesome! The atmosphere was easy and fun! Just a perfect evening for wine and cheese!

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