Saturday, December 18, 2010
This is a very recognizable Chilean producer for Americans. Another giant in Casablanca’s export industry, 95% of the wines are exported, 80% to the US alone. Veramonte’s Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet in particular are excellent sellers throughout the US. The proprietor, Augustine Huneeus, owns Flowers and Quintessa in California as well, where he lives for most of the year. Besides being the force behind Veramonte, he is well-known for his prior role as the CEO who brought Concha y Toro from a small winery to the behemoth it is today. He also contributed heavily to Caliterra (Colchagua Valley) and Errazuriz (in Aconcagua).
Veramonte spans 1100 acres planted in Casablanca. The similarity of the area to Carneros in California was the impetus to plant the region. Though the winery is not certified as organic, many organic and sustainable practices are implemented to keep the vineyards healthy. Four lines of wines are produced: Primus, Ritual, Cruz Andina, and Reserva.
The tasting room is a friendly and open haven with a long bar where visitors can sample most of the wines produced. No appointments are necessary here. It’s worth an extra few minutes to head up the stairs in the tasting room to the mini museum above, where presses, pumps, and corkscrews from the 1800’s and earlier are on display in front of a beautiful expansive view of the vineyards behind the property.
Here are the wines we tried:
2010 Reserva Sauvignon Blanc
A simple but good Sauvignon Blanc. Light yellow in color, aromas of yellow grapefruit dominate the nose. Crisp and clean grassy notes and citrus make this a pleasant seafood wine or aperitif on a warm day. This is a great value, and for the Wine Spectator fans it scored an 86. Not bad for a wine under $10.
2009 Reserva Chardonnay
Unfortunately, in my opinion, this one is a bit overdone. Butter and oak explode out of the glass with no trace of fruit, save for perhaps a very slight honeydew in the background. The finish is, of course, dominated by oak.
2009 Reserva Pinot Noir
Loads of black pepper! A small hint of black cherry lies underneath the predominant peppery base. This wine should be served slightly chilled.
2009 Reserva Merlot
Though there is only 5% Syrah blended in this wine, it certainly makes its presence known. Pepper and plum fruit are intertwined with violets and berries. A little more Syrah might help!
This Syrah rose is filled with ripe red fruit, completely dry, and reasonably complex. Very interesting and delicious.
2008 Ritual Pinot Noir
Ritual is produced with a little extra attention. The grapes are harvested very early in the morning by hand. The juice is fermented with wild yeast to present as natural of a product as possible. It has a deep, rich, heady nose of oak and concentrated cherries, and the finish is very long. A very well-balanced wine, with a seriousness I'm not used to from Veramonte. Apparently Wine Spectator agrees, giving Ritual a 90 point score.
Aged 14 months in oak, 1 year in the bottle. An aroma of dusty pepper was quite distinct, followed by a blue and black fruit mix. Great acidity and very mouthfilling.
To arrange visits or for more information, visit Veramonte's website.
Posted by Sarah T