Chilean wine: Aresti – keeping it in the family

Last week I received a selection of wines from the Aresti winery in Chile. Being a fan of Chilean wines but not knowing too much about Aresti I was keen to find out more and taste through the samples received.

Aresti - Vicente Aresti portraitAresti Wine of Chile dates to 1951 when Vicente Aresti decided to establish a winery in the Central Valley sub-region of Curicó. Over time the family increased their land holdings and invested in technology to enable them to begin releasing wines under their own label in 1999.

Still a family owned and operated business, Aresti now owns just over 400 ha of land making them one of the largest vineyard owners in Chile and their wine is produced entirely from grapes grown on their vineyards. Sparing no expense the company looks to France for its stylistic inspiration and produces a range of wines including a number of different Bordeaux-style blends. (Image: Vicente Aresti)

The samples tasted were from the Trisquel and Family Collection ranges. Trisquel is two-fold in meaning referring at once to a symbol used by ancient civilizations to signify the three main forces in nature; earth, water and fire, while at the same time representing the three generations of the Aresti family involved in their wines.

Aresti Trisquel symbol

The Trisquel range includes a Gewürztraminer and Syrah in addition to the Sauvignon Blanc and Assemblage I tasted, while the Family Collection Assemblage is the single expression for that range. There are two additional ranges within the portfoilio; the Special Release and the Estate Selection.

Using Hong Kong prices as my reference point these wines represent excellent value for money. They are very well made, clean wines of good fruit purity with the reds showing some nice complexity and good potential for ageing. So next time you are looking for a good quality wine that won’t disappoint or leave a hole in your wallet, pick up a bottle or two from Aresti.

Happy Drinking!

(Images credit: Aresti Wines of Chile)

Tasting Notes

Aresti, Trisquel, Sauvignon Blanc, Leyda Valley, 2014

Aresti Trisquel Sauvignon Blanc bottle shotBeing located just 8 kms from the Pacific Ocean and on the edge of the Maipo River provides a moderating influence on the temperature allowing the grapes a long ripening period. After being harvested by hand the grapes undergo whole cluster pressing. Winemakers may choose to do this for a number of reasons; the stalks of the grapes provide a natural filter helping to improve the clarity of the juice and the stalks can add a little addition tannin or texture to the wine, something that needs to be managed carefully for white wines in particular.

Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks at low temperatures of between 11 – 13˚C to preserve the fruit flavours of the wine. As one might expect, the wine does not see any oak before being bottled.

The wine had a pronounced nose of asparagus, lifted notes of nettles and fresh pea along with lemon and lime citrus fruit that led through to tropical fruit aromas of melon. On the palate the wine had a nice texture with generous flavour intensity of lemon, lime, green apple and passionfruit. The finish was very long showing lingering saline and chalk notes.

A very clean wine showing good purity of fruit; there is fresh, zingy acidity, good concentration of fruit and a very pleasant weight to the palate. Barbecued white fish or a creamy white cheese would be the perfect accompaniment.

Aresti, Trisquel, Assemblage, Colchagua Valley, 2012

Aresti Trisquel Assemblage bottle shotAssemblage is a red blend, in this case, of Cabernet Sauvignon (44%), Syrah (42%) and Petit Verdot (14%). The grapes are sourced from the Colchagua Valley Zone in the Rapel Valley.

This area is known for red wine grape plantings as it is warmer than coastal areas yet open to some maritime influence ensuring temperatures don’t get too hot causing cooked or raisined aromas and flavour to the wine.

As the different grapes ripen they are harvested by hand before being fermented in stainless steel tanks. Each variety is vinified and matured separately. Maturation takes place in a mixture of American and French oak barrels for between 8 – 12 months after which time the blend is created.

There is a pretty perfume to this wine with aromas of black and red fruits, a burst of dried herbs and some toasty notes of oak. The palate showed ripe fruits of blackberry, plum and blackcurrants together with tart red fruits such as raspberries and redcurrants. The oak was well integrated, revealing itself in subtle flavours of vanilla and spice which worked well with the dark chocolate and pencil shavings that came through on the back palate. Refreshing acidity and fine-grained tannins completed the picture to create an elegantly structured wine, if a little warm from the 14% alcohol.

This wine would go nicely with a number of different foods, particularly a roast lamb given the dried herb character to the wine.

Aresti, Family Collection, Assemblage, Curicó Valley, 2010

Aresti Family Collection Assemblage bottle shotLocated in the Central Valley region, the Curicó Valley sub-region is home to the Aresti winery in the Molina Zone, where the grapes for this wine were sourced.

The Family Collection Assemblage is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (50%), Merlot (20%), Syrah (12%), Petit Syrah (10%) and Petit Verdot (8%). In keeping with vineyard practices the grapes were hand harvested before being de-stemmed, crushed and fermented for 10 days at temperatures ranging from 26 – 28˚C. The wine is then transferred to French oak barrels where it is aged for 18 months before bottling.

This was an interesting one – it took a good couple of hours for the wine to open up and reveal itself but it was definitely worth the wait! Aromas of ripe black fruit, herbal notes of mint and eucalyptus, mineral notes of graphite and subtle sweet notes of vanilla and liquorice appeared in the glass together with touches of age such as mushroom, game and farmyard notes.

In this wine the structure is more powerful than the Trisquel Assemblage with a fuller weight to the palate and although the alcohol is higher at 14.5% it was well integrated and well matched by acidity, fruit concentration and finely textured tannins.

Like the Trisquel Assemblage this wine would go nicely with roast or barbecue meats or a Portobello mushroom dish but it requires time to open up, so I would either decant it for a period before the meal or follow the main course with a cheese board rather than a dessert to continue the savoury theme.

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About Happy Wine Woman

Wine consultant currently based in Melbourne, Australia.

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