Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Spirit of Wine Review & Rating: *** $ Vina Tarpaca Gran Tarapaca Pinot Noir Reservado, 2008, Casablanca Valley, Chile - Zagat Wine Club Offering (BEST VALUE)

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By way of background, original review, November, 2009: Gran Tarapaca Pinot Noir Reservado from the Casablanca Valley area of Chile was acquired as part of the introductory Zagat Wine Club selection. It also seems to be a regular component of other wine club offerings, including such as WSJWine (Wall Street Journal Wine) and the Sunday Times Wine Club of the UK.  This publication is an affiliate with Zagat, although this wine was purchased, not provided as a sample.

"ZagatWine" - part of the broad Laithwaites Wine group from the UK - is promoted by the well known Zagat Survey group, offered by founders Nina and Tim Zagat. This collection included a case of 12 wines, with four reds and four whites each. The initial shipment arrives with a promotional pitch to have your friends join the club, along with one-pagers on each of the delivered wines.

For the Gran Tarapaca Pinot Noir, the description broadly tells you a bit more about the vineyards and winemaking than some of the other offerings in this series. Though to me, the information density lags the non-green-nature associated with the heavy-stock, glossy printed, four-color brochures accompanying the wines.

Frankly, the label tells us more: aging was five months in oak barrels (no indication whether new or pre-used), and the wine is finished at 14% alcohol (the brochure reports a quite different 13%). Sigh. Let's try the wine itself...

In the glass: Deep pink to light red, slight ruby hints, no opacity.

On the nose: Smoky and deep raspberry aromas, some oak and red currants too.

On the palate: Simple bright red cherry fruit first, with a little hint of smoke. It touches just a point on the middle of your tongue. When you seek a wider taste, the solid red cherry flows along the surface of your tongue. It doesn't really want to climb your cheeks, or crawl up into your nostrils. Just stays on your tongue. Sweet, even.

And the finish: The finish is a clean fade, sweet with a bit of charcoal bitterness. Ends clean and fairly brief.

In summary: Nice experience overall, but not memorable. Two stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale for its pleasantness, with a plus for its approachability. Decent value at introductory Zagat Wine Club price.
Updated review, a year and a half later, May, 2011:   Color is consistent, light red throughout.  Whoa, bold oaky, funky deep fruit aromas.  On the palate, the deep funky red fruit coat your tongue and curl into your cheeks.  Soft, persistent and lush now.  Moved up a notch to three stars, with its insistent but pleasant funkiness.  Best value now. Following long decant, full day in partially-filled bottle kept vacuum
: Palate is entirely consistent.  We'll try more air...Following even longer decant, two days kept cool in partially-filled bottle, with no vacuum:  Still funky red fruit on the nose.  Palate remains soft, persistent, lush and slightly funky.  Held up well. 

Find prices and availability for Zagat Wine introductory mixed case.

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