November 8, 2007

Emiliana wines

Bill Dowd photos

You may not be familiar with the Emiliana name, but you might be with Walnut Crest, the label under which the organic Chilean winery has been shipping its products abroad. The business is a partnership with the Banfi organization that is bringing more of its wines to the U.S. market. I was fortunate to sample several at a wine luncheon in Saratoga County, NY, hosted by James W. Mariani, co-CEO of Castelo Banfi.

2005 Coyam:

I am normally skeptical about any blend of more than four grapes. It takes a wonderful palate and a deft hand to make such a marriage work. Winemaker Alvaro Espinoza has both as shown by this blend of 45% syrah, 27% cabernet sauvignon, 14% merlot, 11% carmenere and 3% petit verdot. Both French and American oak is used to mature the wines ("coyam" means oak in the language of Chile's indigenous Mapuches people), The finished product looks syrupy with its bold color, but flows cleanly and wraps the tongue in a pleasant coverlet of fruit flavor, the wood nuances subtle.

Coyam has been selling for three years in Europe and South America but is new to the U.S. market this year, at a suggested retail price of $30.

2007 Emiliana Natura Gewurztraminer:

This is a first vintage that tells of kiwi and passion fruit; full nose, floral notes, sweet taste with a clean finish.

The wine has been sold in the UK under the Adobe name while the vines were maturing. This first vintage under the Natura name is extremely limited, with only 150 of the 500 cases produced shipped to selected dealers around the United States. Retails for about $14.

2004 Sincerity:

This merlot-cabernet sauvignon blend (75-25%, respectively) highlights the best part of each grape, resulting in a deep coloring which promises the intensity of the berry and black fruit nose and taste. Soft tannins, mellow finish. Retails for $14.

2006 Emiliana Natura Carmenere:

The carmenere grape is in the cabernet franc family, and needs longer aging on the vine. This grower lets it stand 10 days to two weeks longer. The initial taste is a very forward combination of cherries and plums, although it's more of a shock wine than anything very complex. Sweetness dominates. Retails for $9.

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