Fun and Easy-Going Chilean Red

Today’s Story: Garage Wine Co.

Garage Wine Co. is a boutique winery established in Chile in 2001 by Derek Mossman, his wife Pilar Miranda, and friend Alvaro Peña. The venture quite literally started in Derek and Pilar’s garage with production limited to family and friends, and the team sources fruit from small, dedicated winegrowers in Maule and Maipo. With a portfolio that includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, País, Carignan, Cinsault, and other varieties, Garage Wine Co. produces a few thousand cases of wine each vintage in a traditional and minimal fashion. For instance, all wines are made by hand and fermentation occurs only with native yeasts in small tanks with manual punch-downs. Throughout the winemaking process the team makes zero additions and the wines see zero or minimal new wood before bottling and ultimately end up with very low sulfites. As a fun fact, Garage Wine Co. uses recycled bottles for all of their wines to lessen their carbon footprint and, should you line up a number of their wines together, this is apparent.

I highly suggest checking out the Garage Wine Co. website here, as they have a wonderful photo gallery and strong social media presence. You can also find more information about the wines or their vineyard sites.

Today’s Wine: 2017 215 BC Ferment País

100% País; 13% ABV

The 2017 215 BC Ferment País is pale ruby in color with garnet hues. This is pretty much ready to go right out of the bottle, offering up medium intense aromas of ripe red cherry, stewed strawberry, licorice, rose, sage, and mild smoke. Meanwhile the palate is also of medium intensity, showcasing notes of cherry, raspberry, red plum, rose, anise, dried green herbs, and graphite. This fresh and enjoyable red is quite dry and light- to medium-bodied with medium acidity, medium tannins, medium alcohol, and a medium length finish. All-in this is an easy-going wine which I think would be a perfect match for those summer days where instead of pulling a white wine you want to go for a red.

Price: $19. This is my first País, so I’m not too sure where this bottling stands on a value perspective. However, for its price I certainly enjoy drinking it. The fruit quality here is very solid and there is some terroir poking through, though I don’t think this necessarily fits the potential of the variety to a T based on my research.

Fun Carmenère for a Great Price

Today’s Story: Viña Tarapacá

Viña Tarapacá was founded in the Maipo Valley at the foothills of the Andes Mountains in 1874 by Don Francisco de Rojas y Salamanca, under the name Viñas de Rojas. A renowned winemaker, Don Francisco received his first wine accolade at Viñas de Rojas in 1875 (Silver Medal at the International Exhibition of Santiago) and followed it in 1876 with the Silver Medal at the Exhibition of Philadelphia. In 1892, the winery was acquired by Don Antonio Zavala and was renamed to Viña Zavala. By divorce, Don Antonio Zavala’s ex-wife Doña Mercedes Ulloa took control of the winery as part of alimony and renamed it to Viña Tarapacá Ex Zavala to express gratitude to her lawyer who was nicknamed “The Lion of Tarapacá.” 1992 marked another transition for the winery when it was acquired by La Compañía Chilena de Fósforos, a conglomerate hoping to market the wines to broader global markets. Today, Viña Tarapacá continues to produce quality Chilean wines under this umbrella.

The Viña Tarapacá estate consists of 2,600 hectares of land, though only 611 hectares are planted to vine. The land is surrounded by mountains and the Maipo River so, interestingly, the El Rosario Estate is nicknamed “Maipo Valley’s Natural Clos” after the French viticultural term “clos” used to describe terroir surrounded by stone walls to preserve the vineyards. In caring for the land, Viña Tarapacá practices sustainable farming methods to conserve the biodiversity of their vineyards and produce quality wines. In regards to their environmental efforts, the winery runs their own mini hydroelectric plant with water from the Maipo River to produce 60% of their required energy. Furthermore, the winery fixed solar panels to their roof to augment electricity savings more.

Today’s Wine: 2015 Carmenère Gran Reserva

100% Carmenère; 13.5% ABV

The 2015 Carmenère Gran Reserva is opaque medium to deep ruby red in color with not a lot of variation near the rim. The nose is dominated by aromas of green bell pepper, peppercorn spice, dried herbs, asphalt, and red and blue florals with some blackberry, plum, and oak in the background. The palate basically mirrors the nose, showcasing notes of raspberry, tart cherry, plum, dried underbrush, green peppercorn, bell pepper, olive, coffee bean, and vanilla. The wine is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium tannins, and a medium length finish.

Price: $20. This is a great value Carmenère that showcases the variety’s unique tasting notes and expressions. However, this is not for the faint of heart in wine drinkers who prefer the fruit bombs and people pleasers without being used to overly spicy and bell-pepper-filled wines. Pair this with a broad range of foods, particularly smoked, grilled, or roasted meats like beef, lamb, pork, chicken, or veal.