In 1960, a relatively unknown gentleman by the name of Agustin Huneeus burst onto the Chilean wine-scene. He purchased part of the Concha y Toro winery operation, became the winery’s CEO, and is credited with turning it into the largest wine producers in the country.
By the 70’s however, things in Chile had gotten kind of crazy! Pinochet had overthrown the Government, and Agustin decided it was time to get out!
Mr. Huneeus headed for the U.S., and over the next 20 years ended up running beverage company Seagrams, the Franciscan winery in Napa Valley, and also purchased the Quintessa winery. Kind of makes me feel unproductive!
In the 90’s; after things had settled-down in Chile, Agustin Huneeus headed back, and started the Veramonte winery.
Wines made from 100% Carmenere are quite rarely seen in Chile, with the country focusing more and more on the capability of Carmenere as a blending grape. Chile is still one of the few countries in the world where Carmenere is grown…now that they have figured out what it is…but that’s another story…
Veramonte is one of the the largest producers in all of Chile. Most of their wines are considered “value brands”, usually representing great bang-for-the-buck!
The Veramonte Primus 2007 received a 90 point rating by both Robert Parker and Wine & Spirits magazine….not that I subscribe to scores…
Place (click map for larger view)
One of the most significant things about Chilean viticulture is that the vine disease Phylloxera has never affected the vines. The louse (which attacks vines at the root), has devastated vineyards across Europe and California, causing replanting in the majority of a number of regions. Phylloxera is thought to have been kept at bay in Chile by the natural irrigation from the snowmelt of the Andes mountains.
Colchagua (pronounced kohl-CHA-gwa) has been dubbed the “Napa Valley of Chile”, and for good reason. Colchagua on a bottle of Chilean wine is about as close to a show of quality as you’ll get…although there’s always exceptions…
Red grapes of Cabernet, Carmenere, Syrah and Malbec dominate the region, although a small amount of white wines are produced.
There are around 50,000 acres of vineyards planted in Colchagua. That converts to just over 78 sq miles (for those of you not familiar with farmer-speak).
Colchagua was named 2005 Wine Region of the Year by Wine Enthusiast magazine, who called it "..one of the country’s most successful regions", and also stated that "…the natural advantages of the Colchagua Valley are yielding some of the most compelling wines in the world".
Telltale “Chilean” menthol and eucalyptus on the nose. Blackcurrant, blueberry, ripe cherry, chocolate, toasted oak, vanilla, pepper, anise, and rich chocolate all come together for an over-abundance of flavors. Very unique, and drinking great now; but has the potential to hold for up to another 10 years. That is almost unheard of for a wine at this price-point! If you see it for sale, pick up a couple before it’s all gone!
Obviously a big and rich wine, so you’ll need something that stand-up to all those flavors!
Aged steak, balsamic reduction, lamb, venison, and beef bourguignon would all work wonderfully!