It was an exotic and sometimes raucous evening at Zinful Wine Bar and Restaurant during the Toledo Wines and Vines South of the Equator tasting. Wines from Argentina, Australia, Chile and New Zealand were featured.
Six wines were on the tasting menu plus a seventh bonus wine. Chef Mike prepared four dishes to accompany the wines. The wine lineup was:
- Astrolabe Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand
- Carrick "Unraveled" Pinot Noir, New Zealand
- Santa Ema Reserve Merlot, Chile
- The Lucky Country Shiraz, Australia
- Allamand "H" red blend (50/50 Malbec, Cab), Argentina
- Bramare Cabernet Sauvignon, Argentina
- Bonus Wine (extra charge) Montes Purple Angel Carmenere, Chile
The lone white on the list was the Astrolabe Sauvignon Blanc, from New Zealand. It was a very good choice. We love the vibrant Sauv Blancs from the Marlborough region and this was spot on. The refreshing wine had zesty citrus flavors with a touch of herbaciousness. The acidity was not teeth-rattling and so it was a nice kickoff to the evening. This was picked as the group’s second favorite wine.
Lamb chops with potato rosti and fresh herb pistou was the food pairing with the Carrick “Unraveled” Pinot Noir, another New Zealand wine. New Zealand is rapidly gaining a reputation for world-class Pinot. It comes from Central Otago, the world’s southernmost winemaking region. This wine has depth with some spice and earth flavor notes.
Next was perhaps the best value wine in the tasting: 2010 Santa Ema Reserve Merlot from Chile. This wine explodes with richness without becoming a “fruit bomb.” It has supple flavors of blackberries and plum with wafts of vanilla and caramel. It has a long, smooth finish. It paired nicely with the Plantain soup with brie crutes. This was the overall favorite of the group by a far margin! Many bottles marched out the door at the end of the evening.
We next visited Australia’s McLaren Vale region for The Lucky Country 2010 Shiraz. When selecting the wines for the tasting, we had previously sampled another Shiraz that had a good dollop of sweetness. We opted for this drier version and were not disappointed. It paired nicely with some Poppyseed Cheesecakes. This is a savory wine with a focus on dark fruits. It tends more to the rugged flavors of Syrah than the Shiraz style (both the same grape!).
You can’t have a South of the Equator tasting without Malbec. The Allamand “H” red blend is 50% Malbec and 50% Cabernet. Our tasters either loved it or could leave it. The wine is finished in oak, giving it the sturdiest tannins of the lineup so far. Malbec is a plush wine, but here the softness is balanced with the Cabernet.
We called in tasting team member The Cabinator to introduce the next wine, the 2008 Bramare Cabernet Sauvignon from Argentina. The wine is from the Lujon de Cuyo region known as the prime growing area of Mendoza. The wine is produced through a partnership with Paul Hobbs. This is a magnificent Cabernet at about half of what you might pay if the label read Napa Valley. Dark chocolate, currants and oak percolate through this wine, which is deep and rewarding.
The bonus wine was the Montes Purple Angel Carmenere from Chile. Carmenere is Chile’s most famous red grape – with the prominence that Malbec has in Argentina. It is a member of the Cabernet family of grapes, but has a softer body and richer red berry flavor. It also has a dash of Petit Verdot. This was the most complex wine of the evening and had several layers. Beyond the berry rush there was a nice mixture of toast and tea leaves. Just luscious.
Thanks to everyone who came out to enjoy the evening. A special tip of the cap to Joyce Franzblau and her staff at Zinful for making it an extra special night. We promise we won’t wait another three years until our next TWAV tasting.