By The Glass
Veramonte offers quality and value
Many wineries make different types of wines, such as cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, merlot and sauvignon blanc. Usually a winery that makes several varietals can excel at one or two, but the other offerings aren't up to the same level. Rarely does a winery hit on all its varietals.
I went through a tasting with Veramonte Winery recently and was pleasantly surprised to see that everything was good.
I've had a good impression of Veramonte since visiting the winery in Chile five years ago. The winery was progressive, had great vineyards and seemed committed to making good wines.
Veramonte's Sauvignon Blanc ($9.99) is a staple in my store. So was the pinot noir, when I could get my hands on some. But we didn't have the cabernet, merlot or Veramonte's Bordeaux blend, Primus. After my most recent tasting, we do.
These wines are great values and deserve more attention than they are getting. They are high-quality wines that are more than just varietally correct and technically sound. They have character, personality, style and grace. You rarely see all those qualities in bottles at this price.
2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva ($9.99): Deep flavors of black cherry, blueberry and blackberry fruits, highlighted with earthy notes and elegant oak, lend a creamy mouthfeel. Plush with soft, rich tannins, this wine is concentrated, round and luxurious with a long finish.
2005 Merlot Reserva ($9.99): This is not your typical flabby, fruity $10 merlot. It has great flavors of currant, pepper, chocolate and mild oak, and a good structure that you don't see in many inexpensive merlots.
2006 Chardonnay Reserva ($10.99): Grown in Casablanca Valley, which is perfect for chardonnay and pinot noir grapes, the Reserva offers the best of both worlds: plenty of ripe and exotic fruit such as pineapple, nectarine and banana from the hot days, and good acid, balance and structure from the cool nights.
2006 Pinot Noir Reserva ($19.99): Possibly my favorite of the bunch. Pinot noir from Chile has always fascinated me because it is one of the last great hopes in inexpensive, good-quality pinot. This one really delivers. Veramonte hired the renowned Paul Hobbs as winemaker and has stepped up the new-oak barrel regimen. Both add greatly to the price. What once sold for $10 is now $20, but it is well worth it. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better bottle of pinot noir at a cheaper price. What separates this from your typical $20 pinot is the subtle, silky, smooth, sensuous mouthfeel. That's what gives this wine personality.
2005 Primus ($19.99): Primus is Veramonte's Bordeaux blend. While many cabernet-merlot blends boast power, only the top-notch show a duality of power and finesse. Full of lush blackberry and currant fruit, with exotic spice and tobacco nuances, this wine has ample flavor, but is framed in a graceful, harmonious and refined structure. Really amazing stuff.
Jay Kam is president of Vintage Wine Cellar. This column is a weekly lesson in wine pairing written by a rotating panel of wine professionals.
This column is a weekly lesson in wine pairing written by a rotating panel of wine professionals. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org