Sunday, August 17, 2014

Casas Del Bosque and the Casablanca Valley

Established in 1993, "The Houses of the Forest" winery was the project of Juan Cuneo Solari, son of Italian immigrants to Chile.  The 232 hectare estate lies in the Casablanca Valley seventy miles northwest of the capital, Santiago, and a mere thirty minutes from Valparaiso, one of the major Pacific ports of the country.  On that property the Solari family grows Chardonnay, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc and more recently, Syrah and Pinot Noir.  The cool and dry Casablanca Valley, itself, has been largely developed as a wine appellation only since the 1990s.

The Chilean wine industry really began in the late nineteenth century in the warmer Central Valley of Chile where Bosque sources their Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere grapes.  If the entire length of the ribbon of a country that Chile is is sixteen thousand kilometers, the wine industry is the four thousand kilometer belt that begins a third of the way down.  Until recent times the appellation system of Chile was viewed vertically north to south.  Expansion is now moving eastward and westward.  Proprietors of eastern foothill vineyards are recognizing the value of the winds from the Andes and the ocean breezes in the west are causing wine professionals in the coastal flatlands to reassess that value for wine quality.

On January 31st of 2013 we blogged about Augustin Huneeus, one of the contemporary wine giants of our time.  In 1960 he bought a struggling jug wine company and following just a few insightful improvements he developed Concha y Toro into the top wine company of Chile.  Today it is one of the top ten wineries worldwide. This week we brought in Bosque's Maipo Valley Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon, a worthy descendent of what Huneeus started fifty years ago.  Like all Bosque wines the superior Cabernet grapes are hand-harvested for quality following the long hot Mediterranean climate growing season.  Between the climate, alluvial soils, and Andes breezes the Cabernet exhibits structure, concentrated flavors of black currant and raspberry, and firm tannins.

Along with the Cabernet we also brought in the Casablanca Valley Gran Reserva Sauvignon Blanc which, as good as the Cabernet is, the Sauvignon Blanc is even better.  For as much acclaim as Loire Valley and New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs get, Bosque may have the best of all.  We have already said here that the primary characteristics of Sauvignon Blanc are citrus fruit flavors, minerality, grassiness, and the floral dimension.  Along with its piercing lemon and pear fruit flavors, Bosque adds an indelible herbal accent.  This example of my favorite white varietal may be the best I have tasted and it also has that attractive Chilean pricing.

History has always been a love here at the blogspot and what we have attempted in this post is to show how considerably things can change in a relatively short amount of time.  New global investment money continues to flow into Chile making the wine industry a player worldwide.  If there is a drawback to the industry, it is the scarcity of rainfall there.  Drip irrigation from wells serves to minimally alleviate the dearth of rainfall and if the wines end up with exceptionally concentrated flavors from water-stressed vines, well, that isn't necessarily the worst situation.

Join us on Thursday at 7pm for the Wine 101 class as we taste the Bosque wines along with others of like quality and if you can't make it Thursday, come by after 5pm on Friday as we repeat the same tasting for that crowd.  We actually have a perfect storm of high quality wines coming together for those two events.  Please join us.

On Friday the 29th David Hobbes of Prime Wines joins us for a tasting of new Greek Wines.

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