By Margaret Snook, April 24, 2009
Viña Morandé Limited Edición Sauvignon Blanc 2008
This was the second time I’ve tried this recently released wine from the King of Casablanca, Pablo Morandé, who literally put Casablanca on the wine map back in the 1980s. Today he and his daughter Macarena (also a winemaker) do an amazing job of keeping it there.
This particular wine, part of their Edición Limitada collection, was an experiment that will surely become part of their regular repertoire. The idea was to make a Sancerre-style Sauvignon Blanc, fermented in new French oak fudres—2000-liter barrels. This is a good thing—don’t let the word barrel trick you into thinking that this is some clunky California fume-style Sauvignon or 1990s Chardonnay wannabe. The barrels are nearly 10 times the size of a regular 225-liter barrique, so they allow the wine to develop volume and elegance without masking the fruit flavor.
Fudres at Viña Morandé for fermenting Sancerre-style Sauvignon Blanc
The results? A walk on the richer side of Sauvignon Blanc. Using fudres instead of the now-standard stainless steel tanks allows for micro-oxygenation that enhances the body, so the wine has a richer mouthfeel than most SBs. And despite the fact that most Chilean wines tend to have at least 13.5% alcohol, this one has a thankfully low 13%, which helps make it particularly food friendly.
It’s got good citrusy fruit, pica lime, ripe lemon, pear, and a refreshing mineral note. It’s definitely a break from the bright and sassy, green and grassy Sauvignons we’ve been pouring for the last few years. They’re great aperitif wines, and I still love ’em, but once cocktail hour is over, they don’t usually make it to the dinner table. All that vim and vigor makes them too antsy to settle down with the grown-ups, and beyond ceviche and salads, they don’t always work very well with food. And that’s where this one is a real winner.
That extra body teams up well with the richer texture of meal-time dishes, and while there’s just a bit more residual sugar than I’m usually comfortable with, but I have to recognize that this would be the perfect wine for a dish with body and a kick, like some of those spicy Thai shrimp dishes, or a shrimp bisque, or scallops pil pil… That light touch of residual sugar will help take the edge off the spice and bring it all into luscious balance. In fact, we tried it with a delicious curry of sautéed locos (Chilean abalone) on a bed of creamed leeks… just perfect!
Price (in Chile): $11.900
Sold: El Mundo del Vino