This summer while in Santa Barbara, I met a fun winemaker from Chile, Vicente Johnson, who was pouring his own Rios de Chile wine for tasting. He was a unique character with great spirits (no pun) and an uplifting energy about him that convinced me to try his wine.
Chardonnay with No Malolactic…
At the tasting, I was especially intrigued by the Rios de Chile Chardonnay. With a toasty nose, round mouthfeel, and straw yellow color, it seemed like a typical oaked Chardonnay that had gone through malolactic fermentation (the malolactic process is what gives Chardonnay its balanced mouthfeel and buttery taste). I overheard him telling another taster that there was actually no post-harvest malolactic – what!? How was this possible? Vicente was happy to explain how his vineyard used natural methods while the grapes were still growing on the vines, including trimming a little more of the leaves than usual, allowing slightly more sunlight to hit the delicate fruit, and naturally toasting the grapes! I was impressed as were other bloggers. This is a great value at $10 and worth a try.
More Rios Wine to Taste
From there, Rios de Chile sent me more varietals to taste on my own time, and since I knew this vineyard had already impressed me with its introduction, I set up a happy hour wine tasting one Friday after work. This was a great opportunity to taste the portfolio, and to share with others as well, which really is the point of food and drink. What was most interesting is that there was a clear winner across the board with all of the attendees, who I would classify as casual wine drinkers and occasional winery visitors:
WINNER: Rios de Carmenere Reserva
Everyone chose the Rios de Chile Carmenere Reserva wine as a favorite – the bottle won by a landslide. I was happy to share a lesser known varietal with the group, and was impressed with its smooth, easy sipping, and inviting spice aromas. One person described this as ‘… a motorcycle ride’, and I hope she meant on a cruise through the countryside, of course. The group is thinking about chipping in to buy a case. Originally, participants were grappling over who would take the bottle home with them at the end of the evening, but that really wasn’t an issue since the bottle was wiped out before anyone had the chance to leave!
Thank you to RIOS de Chile and (winemaker) for sharing the fruit of your labor with me! Also, thank you to my wine tasting attendees for keeping me entertained, and reminding me to take notes ;)