Catching Up with Chilean Sauvignon Blanc

P1070230A shipment of four Chilean Sauvignon Blancs arrives at our door (courtesy of Wines of Chile) along with a request to see how they paired with seafood. That’s the kind of challenge that we like, so we called our friends Cynthia Howson and Pierre Ly and organized a dinner tasting.

The conversation was stimulating, with Pierre and Cynthia exchanging tales of their wine research in China (which has been reported here at the Wine Economist) and their WSET classes for news of our recent travels in  Idaho and Australia. Then we got down to business with the food and wine.

For appetizers I decided to focus on wines from the coastal areas and the pairings were very successful. The Santa Carolina Leyda Estate Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2013 was good on its own but fabulous with a rich smoked salmon dip. And the Los Vascos Casablanca Sauvignon Blanc 2012 that we have enjoyed before was even better with fresh oysters from nearby Hood Canal and white prawns.P1070228

For the main course I selected the wines from the central valley and Andes foothill areas. The minerality of these wines (Calcu Colchagua Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2012 and Santa Ema Select Terroir  Maipo Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2012) really stood up to and enhanced a special brodetto (a seafood stew from Romagna) made with Lynne Rossetto Kasper’s recipe from The Splendid Table cookbook.P1070232

The meal was great (especially topped off with Sue’s raspberry-currant crostata) and the Sauvignon Blanc-seafood pairings really worked.

Taken as a group these were the best Chilean Sauvignon Blancs yet — an indication that perhaps Decanter reviewers were right when they said that Chilean wines just get better every year as site selection is fine tuned and the winegrowing and winemaking techniques continue to improve. Significantly, the wines were not carbon copies — either of other wine regions (think Marlborough SB) or of each other — we appreciated the diversity as much as the overall quality.

Four wines can’t possibly tell the whole story of a complicated wine country like Chile. But if these four are representative of the kind of Sauvignon Blancs being made there today, I think Chile has finally arrived!


Thanks to Emily Denton of the thomas collective for arranging this tasting. Thanks to Pierre and Cynthia for their help and to Sue for the photos.

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