Thursday, April 4, 2013

Lights out!! De Martino Estate Organic Wines Rock!! by Philip S. Kampe

“Drinking Wine by ‘Flashlight’, The De Martino Virtual Wine Story 

Who would expect that the anticipation of a wonderful evening of ‘online wine tasting’ would end up as an evening of drinking four bottles of Chilean De Martino wine by flashlight?
Well, here is the story.
The apartment we rent in New Jersey is in a large building (35 floors). We have a large balcony and a skyline view of Manhattan and the George Washington bridge.
We are adjacent to the Hudson river, opposite 90th street.
We entertain often. I am from New Orleans and cook relatively well. My wife’s family is from the Isle of Capri and Genoa. Her family is in the restaurant business. She knows her way around the kitchen.
On this evening, we invited four friends (two couples) to help us evaluate wines from Chile. I have the good fortune of writing about wines and am often sent wines to review.
On occasion, winemakers share their wines, online, with selected individuals.
For this evening, I was one.
In the Mardi Gras spirit, at eight at night, SNOOTH Editor-in-chief, Gregory Del Piaz, would conduct an online interview with De Martino winemaker, Marcelo Retamal
The electronic age made it simple: Gregory was in New York and Marcelo was in Chile.
Four wines from the De Martino Estate were selected for the tasting.
Three reds: Carmenere, Cabernet Sauvignon and a Malbec/Cabernet Sauvignon blend, plus one white, a Sauvignon Blanc. All  wines are organic.
I decanted the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Malbec/Cab blend several hours before the guests arrived.
Our guests arrived at seven-thirty, half an hour before the online tasting.
My online job was to comment on the wines, online, with the other participants and question Marcelo, specifically, about the wines we were tasting together.
The concept is great: Send wine samples to a group of semi-influential media types, cook or buy food that pairs with the wines and discuss the results, online, while watching Gregory interview, often with the aid of our questions, De Martino winemaker Marcelo Retamal.
I explained the format to our guests and opened a bottle of Cava Paul Cheneau (demi sec) to whet our palates and discuss the wine, in regard to appearance, aromatics and flavor on the palate. We discussed what food we would pair the Cava with and so on. It was an easy exercise to start the festivities off.
Shortly, the ‘De Martino Virtual Wine Tasting Experience’ would begin.
Eight o’clock was ten minutes away and we were all excited,
Suddenly, the lights go off, the hallway alarm blasts loud notes every five seconds and uncertainty fills the air.
We are in the dark, but, not panicked at all. We knew we had four bottles of De Martino wine to drink by moonlight, worst case scenerio. 
The moonlight was romantic, but, the alarm kept blasting away. Eventually the sound became background music, while we were sampling the first wine, the 2012 Estate Sauvignon Blanc ($12) from the Maipo Valley in Chile. Our palates burst with lemon, grapefruit and melon. A crisp, juicy, ripe, fresh, balanced acidity took over and led our band of six wine tasters into euphoria. I found oysters on the half shell in the fridge thanks to my I-phones flashlight. We thought it was the perfect pairing with an outrageous wine that showed its grassy nose and crisp, delicious flavor.
Next, I poured the 2011 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ($14) from the decanter. It was a little tricky, but doable thanks to the flashlight.
The aromatics were interesting, pepper and cherry followed by an earthy, spicy, vegetable flavor on the palate. Soft tannins balanced this elegant, organic, estate wine. We paired a beef goulash that was barely warm with the three red wines we sampled.
The 2010 Legato Reserva Cabernet/Malbec 50/50 blend was next. Aromas of tobacco, spice and vanilla dominated, while our palate found concentrated spicy fruit followed by vanilla notes. The wine was full-bodied, yet, still somewhat tight after airing for two hours. At $15, we all thought this wine was a real bargain and a wine to put away for a couple of years.
Last, but, not least came the 2011 Estate Carmenere ($14). Since our tasting group rarely comes in contact with Carmenere, we thought this would be a highlight and saved it until the end. There was a hint of tobacco and spice on the nose. The palate was entertained with a cast of cherry, cassis, black pepper and earthy notes. The tannins were light with a soft, lingering finish.

'LIGHTS OUT or ON', the four organic wines that De Martino produces are extreme values in the $12-$16 marketplace.
Marcelo Ratamal knows how to make wine.


If you want to see the interview--I certainly want to, visit the Snooth website and find videos under the Explore column. Look for the De Martino Green Interview. Opici Wines import and distribute De Martino.

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