Christian CALLEC

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Posted by Christian Callec on zondag, mei 23rd, 2010

A visit to VALDIVIESO is like going back in time, back to the end of 19th century… Valdivieso is a beautiful old bodega in Macul, inside of the city of Santiago. This is the place where all the sparkling wines were (and still are) produced that made Valdivieso famous. Since the 1980’s, Valdivieso also produces a huge range of still wines in the Lontue Valley winery, in Curicó region. The welcome was warm and very friendly, the hospitality great, the tasting very well organized, and the lunch was absolutely tasty. Thanks for that! But the most important for us was of course, the tasting.

The tasting:

Valdivieso planned not less than 31 wines for us… We decided to pass for the 5 varietal wines and 4 Winemaker Reserva wines that we tasted many times yet in the Netherlands and really did not fancy to taste again. We wanted to taste only the sparkling, reserva, single vineyards and premium wines. A great compliment to our hosts for the perfect tasting temperature in the room and … in the bottle! The whites were not freezing cold but good chilled and the reds were not so hot that it would become a wine soup… Wineries often underestimate how important the right tasting temperature can be. The use of a good wine cooler or stylish refrigerator can make the difference!

Valdivieso charmat brut: (charmat = second fermentation in steel tanks) Nice yellow color with greenish hue. It opens fresh en fruity, with some ripe nutty and toasty tones on the back. Fresh and vivid on the tongue, well balanced. The bubbles should be however a little bit less aggressive.

Valdivieso ‘champenoise’ brut extra: (second fermentation in the bottle). This is now what they call in Chile a ‘champanoise’ (sic) or ‘champaña’, made with the ‘champenoise’ (sic again) method… Nice pale yellow color, quite hyperactive bubbles in the glass. The nose is fresh and fruity, the wine itself is good, crispy fresh and juicy… Unfortunately, the bubbles are not really worth the predicate ‘champenoise’, much too explosive, no finesse at all.

Valdivieso ‘champenoise’ blanc de blancs: Acceptable nose, with fresh and ripe tones, well balanced, good and vivid acidity on the palate, but once again, no finesse at all in the bubbles.

Valdivieso ‘champenoise’ brut nature: Bright and light yellow color. Behind the first reduction smell, quite a pleasant fruitiness, mostly green apple and citrus. On the palate, this freshness is sustained by some ripe nutty, yeasty and toasty notes. A little bit of everything, quite tight and a bit austere, but it lacks complexity and elegance, especially in the bubbles.

NVY berries: this ‘trendy’ drink based on ‘champaña’ (Valdivieso brut, actually not a ‘champaña’ but a ‘charmat’, but who cares) and natural fruit pulp exists in 3 tastes: maracuyá, cherimoya and berries. What to say about that, fresh, fruity and low in alcohol (8-9%), with the whole pulp included fibers and vitamins (as we have been told)… The name NVY could come from ‘envy’, translated as ‘envidia’ in Chilean. The recommended service temperature is quite chilling: 2°C! Some young drinkers actually might like this.

The still wines:


Valdivieso Sauvignon blanc Reserva 2009 Leyda: pyrazine nose, mineral and crispy fresh, too short in the finish.

Valdivieso Chardonnay Reserva 2009 Leyda: smoky and mineral, crispy fresh. Ok.

Valdivieso Viognier Reserva 2009 Sagrada Familia: sensual fruity nose, crispy fresh, luscious, mouth filling, warm in the finish. Ok, but could be a bit more elegant with less alcohol.

Valdivieso Sauvignon blanc Single Vineyard Wild Ferment 2008 Leyda: clean, fresh and crispy nose, vegetal and floral, mineral and fresh on the palate, but with a strange aftertaste.

Valdivieso Chardonnay Single Vineyard Wild Ferment 2008 Leyda: beautiful, elegant nose; very well balanced, with nice fruit and minerality, vivid fresh and juicy. Good wine!

Valdivieso Pinot noir Reserva 2008 Rapel: a little bit old-fashioned pinot noir, quite ripe en warm. Less alcohol would give it more elegance.

Valdivieso Merlot Reserva 2008 Rapel: typical merlot nose, well done, well balanced, commercial, round and mild. However, the tannins are a little bit too green and dryish in the finish.

Valdivieso Carmenère Reserva 2008 Sagrada Familia: spicy carmenère nose, commercial, well-done, well balanced, round and mild. However, here again, the tannins are too dryish in the finish.

Valdivieso Cabernet sauvignon Reserva 2006 Central Valle: beautiful fruit, unfortunately completely dominated by the spicy oak toast (4 years after the harvest!). Dryish in the finish.

Valdivieso SV

Valdivieso Merlot Single Vineyard 2007 Sagrada Familia: very merlot in the nose; well made, well balanced, round, powerful, fresh en very juicy. Good wine! (NB: 85% merlot, 15% carmenère)

Valdivieso Cabernet Franc Single Vineyard 2007 Colchagua: a bit a-typical for a cabernet franc wine (but some of my Chilean colleagues absolutely disagree on that), too heavy, and too powerful. I would not buy it as a cabernet franc, but the wine is very enjoyable, ripe fruity (without any disturbing pyrazine), round and mild.

Valdivieso Malbec Single Vineyard 2008 Maipo: beautiful, sensual nose; round, powerful, juicy on the palate, with a smoky, choco-mocha aftertaste. Good wine!

Valdivieso Cabernet sauvignon Single Vineyard 2008 Maipo: very aromatic, good ripe fruit; unfortunately a mouth full of not really elegant tannins, quite greenish and dryish. The primary fruit aromas are completely dominated by the oak aromas. Some of my Chilean colleagues will not agree with that, but I am not sure that this is going to get better after a few more years in the bottle.

Valdivieso Caballo Loco 11 Central Valle: very sensual nose, elegant, fruity and slightly toasty; plenty of ripe fruit on the palate, full bodied, mouth filling, powerful, generous, complex and juicy. Those tannins are elegant, the oak is well integrated, and the oak aromas are subtle, with cedar oak on front… This will surely evolve in the bottle! Good wine! (cabernet sauvignon-malbec-cabernet franc-carmenère-merlot)

Valdivieso Eclat 2007 Maule: beautiful nose, reminds me the smell of the Provencal ‘garrigue’, with plenty of wild bushes and aromatic herbs, especially in this case laurel; elegant and sensual, well structured and concentrated, complex aromatic, velvety, ripe, with well integrated oak and ripe tannins. Great wine! (Ah ah: carignan 65%, mourvèdre 25%, syrah 10% … no wonder I smell Provence in it, but still a very Chilean character).

Valdivieso La Primavera 2005 Sagrada Familia: very elegant wine, perfectly balanced, very juicy, with well integrated oak and ripe tannins. Good wine! (cabernet sauvignon 70%, carmenère 20%, malbec 10%).

Valdivieso Eclat Botrytis Sémillon 2007 Curicó: sensual candied citrus on the nose, more extravagant than elegant aromas; well made, very enjoyable but it lacks complexity. 9 gram of acidity for 190 g residual sugar might in this case be too little to get it well balanced. Some more minerality could help as well. Promising wine.

Conclusion: The tasting notes are just an indication of what I liked or not in those wines. It is my opinion and might be very different from the one of other tasters. You have to consider that for me fruit, freshness, balance and minerality are very important, and that oak, when necessary, must only be the frame of the painting, never become the painting itself.

And when people use oak barrels, it has to be as a container, which allows some soft contact with the oxygen outside, making the wine inside better and more complex. It should never be a way of ‘aromatizing’ a wine to match with the supposed ‘taste’ preferences of one or other market. If you want to use oak, use high quality oak. Using minor quality oak barrels because it makes the product cheaper is a crime against the wine and the consumers. If you want to use oak to aromatize your wines, you can better use good quality oak staves, cheaper and much more elegant than minor quality barrels.

When we started with this tasting, I had no clue about the price of those wines. The retail price of the sparkling wines is really low; it explains partly why the wines are lacking elegance in their bubbling. The consumers get what they deserve at that price. The difference in price between the reserva wines and the Single Vineyards wines is in the Netherlands very small. Forget about the reserva and buy the Single Vineyards for just a little bit more money. The three premium red wines, all three in their own style, are really great value for money. But the very best value for money will be the Eclat 2007 from Maule. Go to your favorite wine shop, or go and find it online, buy it and enjoy it!

VALDIVIESO has a great potential, and is working now on a different level than some years ago. Their premium wines and most of the Single Vineyards are promising a very healthy future. I will come back within a few years to have this tasting again and I do hope that my feeling will become reality.

¡Comprar vinos chilenos ayuda a las víctimas del terremoto!

Buy Chilean wines to help the victims of the earthquake!

Achetez du vin chilien pour aider les victimes du tremblement de terre !

Koop Chileense wijnen om de slachtoffers van de aardbeving te helpen!


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