Last night I had the opportunity to attend and be part of an online tasting sponsored by the Wines of Chile. Yes, it’s a marketing thing. Yes, I got some free wine. But it was still a fun and educational experience, and I figure if someone wants to send me a box with some wine in it and invite me to taste it while listening to the winemakers discuss the wine and while I interact with other wine lovers via the web, I’m willing to spend some time writing about it.
(I think that meets the FTC disclosure requirements.)
The tasting was led by Fed Dexhelmer, a Master Sommelier who works as an educator for Wines of Chile. He’s also worked for a number of pretty well known restaurants, including Gramercy Tavern, Cello, Daniel, and the Spice Market. He’s also been featured in a number of well known publications.
Because I’m a friendly fellow, and I like to share wine, I invited seven other people to join me for the tasting. My wife, of course, who loves wine as much as I do (and is much better at the ‘pairing with food’ part), my next door neighbors as well as a couple who live across the street, and a colleague of my wife with whom we’ve been friends for years, along with her husband.
The tasting kit included 8 wines, a bottle of olive oil, and a bottle of chiles, as well as some recipes for dishes that would work well with the wines. We decided to forgo all the cooking (we do have day jobs), and instead served a simple cheese board. That turned out to be a good call, as we zipped through tasting all 8 wines in about 90 minutes, and it was much easier to remain engaged in the tasting without worrying about serving several courses.
There were two key themes to the tasting. The first was that the 8 people in my house, as well as all the people commenting on Twitter and in the chat on the web meeting, had no clear consensus on which of the 8 wines were the best. I had a clear favorite, but only one other person of the 8 at my house shared my view, and the others all disagreed with each other as well. We couldn’t even agree on a least favorite.
The second key, and I think the more important, was the remarkable value of the wines we tasted. Of the 8, I rated none worse than a 3/5, and there were a couple of 4’s and a 5. Yet only two of the wines were more than $30, and two of them were less than $20. I would buy almost all of them at the suggested retail price, and I’m pretty sure I’d by a case of all of them (with a case discount) if I had the room to store eight cases of wine.
All of the wines are blends, some more traditional Bordeaux style blends (which was historically Chilean wine’s strength), some more unusual and ‘New World’. Almost all of the wines had an old world sensibility; there were no fruit bombs, although some of the wines were very bold.
Here are the wines we tasted, in order:
2005 Valdivieso Eclat, Maule Valley
2006 De Martino “Las Cruces”, Cachapoal Valley
2008 Estampa Gold Assemblage, Colchagua Valley
2008 Montes Limited Selection Cabernet/Carmenere, Cochagua Valley
2006 Maquis Lien, Colchagua Valley
2008 Hacienda Araucano Clos de Lolol, Colchagua Valley
2007 Emillana Coyam, Colchagua Valley
2007 Casas del Bosque Gran Estate Selection Private Reserve, Casablanca Valley
I’ll post my tasting notes over the next several days.
Again, I want to thank the Thomas Collective for inviting me. This was an awful lot of fun. I got to make some new online friends and really enjoyed the wines and the experience. I think this type of marketing effort is fun and effective, and was very well done.