Chilean Wine Extravaganza: A Mondiale EventMay 13, 2011
By Louise Harkavy, Dame de la Chaîne
Just a few short weeks after his induction as Chef Rotisseur, Chef Mark Timms of the Jockey Club in the Fairfax Hotel in Washington, DC had his work cut out for him when he agreed to host our chapter of the Société Mondiale du Vin’s Chilean Wine Tasting dinner. In coordination with Liz Caskey, Partner in Culinary & Wine Experiences of Santiago, Chile, Mark put together a fabulous dinner that paired incredibly well with the wines that Liz brought us to taste.
Our Chilean wine experience began with a Maycas Del Limari, 2009 Sauvignon Blanc, Reserva Especia, D.O. Limari Valley that was paired with two lovely “little bites” of chili chicken mousse served in little cones and camerones pil pil, spicy sweet shrimp. This Sauvignon Blanc has a brilliant yellow color with greenish hues and comes from the land that was the foundation of the Incan Empire. Notes of citrus, gooseberries, and asparagus are present with a delicate touch of mineral bringing complexity and elegant character to the wine. The Limarí valley benefits from a strong coastal influence and features lower elevations than the rest of the range as it heads southward. That means more of the ocean breezes make their way up into the valley. The wines produced here reflect the luminosity of the zone, the minerality of the rich marine soils and the extraordinary coastal breezes. Maycas Sauvignon Blanc is fresh, fulfilling and long, with citrus flavors and a hint of minerality on the finish which really paired will with the hors d’oeuvres.
The group was invited to take their seats by our Chamballan/Bailli Paul Haar. We knew that we were in for a treat when Paul introduced us to Liz Caskey, or Chilean wine expert for the evening who was not only supplying us with wonderful wines for the evening, but who was also going to educate us about these wonderful wines. Once we were all seated, our first course of porcini cappuccino with English pea profiterole, the best mushroom soup I have ever eaten, was paired with a Kingston Family Vineyards 2008 Alazan, Pinot Noir, D.C, Casablanca Valley, whose combination of power and silkiness is the hallmark of good Pinot Noir.
As we waited for our second course, Chamballan/Bailli Paul Haar invited us all to introduce ourselves and our guests. Liz Caskey then described the wines that we had already had, and introduced us to the wines that we would have with our second course. Liz used a PowerPoint presentation to show us the various wine areas of Chile and where each of the selections we were drinking came from. It was very interesting, educational and delicious. Liz was nice enough to provide her very complete tasting notes on each wine which I have included in this review.
Next, a pan seared petit filet of salmon with black peppered hash brown, Maine Mussels and lemon and black cherry salsa was served with a Terrunyo, 2008 Carmenere / Block 27 Peumo Vineyard – S.O. Peumo – Cachapoal Valley. The Terrunyo Carmenere is 85% Carmenere, and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes grow in a warm climate near the mighty Cachapoal River. The appearance is bright, with a dark, deep red color highlighted by violet nuances. With a very elegant and complex nose, this wine exemplifies the great characters of pure Carmenere: plumy, red ripe fruit, spicy, with black cherries. This wine has great structure, with sweet tannins, graphite and lots of fruit resulting in a long finish. The wine was very drinkable and paired well with the salmon.
Our third course, an incredible goat cheese soufflé served with a veal and pistachio galantine, was served with two different wines, both of which were fabulous with the soufflé; a Concho y Toro Marques de Casa Concha 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, D.O. Puente Alto and an Emiliana Organico Vineyard Coyam Blend, 200, Los Robles Estate, Colchagua Valley. The Concha y Toro, Marqués de Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon from the Maipo Valley presents luscious aromas and flavor of cherries, blackberries, cedar, and smoky tar. Its tremendous concentration of flavors is revealed in firm tannins with a soft and silky texture and a long finish. The river bench where the grapes grow is made of associated soils, is stony, poor in nutrients and highly permeable due to the gravel sub‐soil. This produces plants of frugal growth, which bear clusters of small, concentrated ripe grapes. The Coyam (“Oak Forest”) is a wine made from organically grown grapes. Ancient oaks surround the vineyard where Coyam is born. Coyam is 41% Syrah, 29% Carménère, 20% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Mourvedre, 1% Petit Verdot. The wine is an intense violet plum red in color with a nose that expresses aromas of ripe red fruits, plums, berries, and black fruits that meld elegantly with notes of spice, earth, and a touch of sweet vanilla. Well balanced and big bodied on the palate, with good structure and soft, round tannins.
If this was not the piece de résistance, an amazing fourth course of French lamb chops with an exotic mushroom blend served on parsnip puree followed. This wonderful dish was served with a Polkura Vineyards 2008 Syrah Marchigue, from the same valley as the Coyam, the Colchagua Valley. As Liz told us, this wine is a blend of the different blocks of the vineyard, where more fruity components coming from more sun exposed blocks are combined with spicier lots from shaded sites. Deep purple in color, the typical spicy nose is combined with black fruit. This is a full bodied wine with very intense tannins. It has depth and is extremely velvety. The acidity is in good balance with the sweetness of the alcohol. The wine is very complex with many layers and has a very long finish, and went really well with this dish which also had many complex layers of flavors.
Our extravagant dinner came to a close with a grand finale dessert of Jockey Club crème brulée, not your regular crème brulée, but a magnificent chocolate crème brulée. This amazing dessert was paired with a Concho y Toro Don Melchor 2007Cabernet Sauvignon, D.O. Puente Alto from the Maipo Valley. Don Melchor is a hearty assemblage of Cabernet Sauvignons originating from distinct, yet contiguous sub‐divided blocks. Some years, small quantities from the 7 hectares of Cabernet Franc are added. Over the years, slight differences have been noted in six sections of the Cabernet Sauvignon vines. Each section contributes something special to the final blend. Nevertheless, every vine still delivers the distinctive style of this “contemporary classic”. Generally, the wine is intense and complex, with very evenly ripe fruit and pronounced blackberry, blueberry, and blackcurrant aromas that meld with notes of fine chocolate and tobacco. The degree of ripeness and quality of the tannins is a firm reminder of the personality of the Cabernet Sauvignon from this area of Chile. And although this wine was not at all what one might expect from a dessert wine, the pairing with the chocolate crème brulée did make this a grand finale to a wonderful evening.
After dinner we were treated to an appearance by Chef Rotisseur Timms who spoke about his food and the wine pairings and also introduced us to his excellent staff. Liz’s discussion of the wines and where they come from in Chile as well as how they were made, plus our Bailli’s witty repartee made for an exciting evening of fabulous food and wine, a fitting assemblage for the Société Mondiale du Vin.