Vistamar Brisa Cabernet Sauvignon

THERE was a time when the wine business was almost exclusively male but thankfully those days are long gone.

Vistamar Brisa Cabernet Sauvignon

Women are generally better than men at wine tasting thanks to their more finely tuned senses, and it only makes sense that they would be just as good at the other aspects of the business.

Winemakers are still mostly male but this is changing with many superstar women winemakers in Australia and California and increasingly in Europe and Latin America. I got the chance to chat and taste some wines recently with my first Chilean female winemaker Irene Paiva, the wine director of Vistamar whose wines are newly arrived on the Irish market thanks to the good people at The Vineyard in Galway who distribute them nationwide.

Irene grew up around vineyards and as a child helped her grandfather pick grapes and make the family’s wine. Although initially attracted to the excitement of the harvest, “it was also the complex and ever changing aromas of the fermenting vats that lingered long in my memory”. It was these persistent memories that led to her change from studying horticulture to wine (oenology) at university.

“Finding the perfect grape for each hillside and soil type is what excites me now and also how to preserve those pure fruit flavours in the wine-making process,” she said. Pure fruit flavours was one of the characteristics I found in tasting the wines and I think they will suit our palates here, especially as we buy one in every five bottles from Chile.

The Brisa range is the entry level and the Sepia is the reserve and the wines in the reserve range are particularly good. In addition to the wines mentioned below the part barrel-fermented Chardonnay has good balance and texture and the Sauvignon Blanc is delicate and fragrant while the Gran Reserva had lovely elegant soft fruit.

* Special offer Easter wines will start appearing this week, some at knock down prices so keep your eyes peeled. I will feature some of the bargains next week.

Best value under €10

Vistamar Brisa Sauvignon Blanc 2012 — €7.99-€8.99

Stockists: O’Donovans Cork, McCabes Dublin, World Wide Wines Waterford, The Vineyard Galway.

Bright lime and passionfruit aromas which follow through onto the palate. There is a touch of residual sugar but this is balanced with good acidity, making this an attractive wine that could happily be drunk without food.

Vistamar Brisa Cabernet Sauvignon 2011- €7.99-€8.99

Stockists: O’Donovans Cork, McCabes Dublin, World Wide Wines Waterford, The Vineyard Galway.

Classic blackcurrant and pepper aromas, solid ripe blackcurrant fruit with some nice herbal and chocolate elements. Good juicy Cabernet flavours, but with some structure so save this one for having with your Tuesday night stew or shepherds pie.

La Baume Viognier Pays d’Oc 2011 — €9 (down from €10.99)

Stockists: SuperValu

This wine is on special offer this month in Supervalu (from March 3) as are all the wines in the La Baume range. Light peach aroma with nice weighty peach and creamy lemon flavours with a dollop of acidity for balance. Even at full price this is worth buying.

Best value under €20

Vistamar Sepia Reserve Pinot Noir 2011- €11.95-€12.95

Stockists: O’Donovans Cork, McCabes Dublin, World Wide Wines Waterford, The Vineyard Galway.

Long cold soaking of the fruit before fermentation has given this a mix of red and dark fruit aromas and lovely pristine fruit flavours on the palate. Rarely does Pinot Noir this cheap taste this good.

Vistamar Sepia Reserva Carmenère 2011- €11.95-€12.95

Stockists: O’Donovans Cork, McCabes Dublin, World Wide Wines Waterford, The Vineyard Galway.

The Carmenère grape is virtually unique to Chile. Rich aromas of plums and coffee with ripe soft fruit and lots of flavour. A good introduction to the grape variety.

Vistamar Sepia Reserva Riesling 2011 — €11.95-€12.95

Stockists: O’Donovans Cork, McCabes Dublin, World Wide Wines Waterford, The Vineyard Galway.

It is rare to find a Riesling from Chile and even this may not be stocked by all the outlets mentioned except The Vineyard. Sweet apple and citrus aromas with a hint of diesel. Dry and complex and good fruit-acid balance and excellent typicité.

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