Online Wine Tasting with Roberto Henriquez in Chile
2019 Roberto Henriquez Releases are Here!!
To celebrate I'm doing a live chat with Roberto this Saturday at 2pm on Instagram Live
On Saturday anyone can just go on Instagram, navigate to the Devenishwines instagram page, and then join the live chat! Open a bottle of his wine, listen as we talk about wine making in rural Chile, and how his wine making has evolved.
Info on all the wines and where they're available below
Sunday Take Out 4 Course Wine Dinner
Sunday I'll be taking part in a virtual wine dinner! Here's the plan: 1-2 hours before logging-on to join everyone for wine and dinner in a Zoom meeting, you’ll receive your dinner-for-two package containing the two featured bottles of wines and 4 different Maine Squash dishes, one from each Chef, each in its own container with easy instructions to either place in your refrigerator, freezer, or set to be ready for our first course starting at 6 PM.
The chefs cooking and dining with us for this four-chef, 4-dish, 4-Maine Squash collaborative virtual wine dinner are:
Chef Jordan Rubin of Mr. Tuna featuring Maine-grown Kabocha squash with Bluefin Tuna Sashimi
Chris Gould of Central Provisions and Tipo will feature Maine-grown Butterscotch squash in a beautiful salad course with many components from his own garden
Chef Damian Sansonetti of Chaval: Maine-grown Musque de Provence squash married alongside local Breezy Hill Pork.
Chef Ilma Lopez of Chaval: will create an incredible dessert from Maine-grown Delicatta squash
We are excited to have you join us for this incredible collaborative virtual wine dinner as we gather online from the comforts of home—with two wine glasses in hand, four Chefs, and a Sommelier on the screen—to discuss the featured wines and the delicious Maine Squash dishes from Chefs Rubin, Gould, Sansonetti, and Lopez, all while creating community, and supporting local restaurants, farmers, and purveyors.
Caneva da Nani Col Fondo Prosecco
Conestabile della Staffa Il Rosso
Due to the nature of this event, we regret that we cannot accommodate food substitutions. The dinner-for-two ticket price is $220 all-inclusive of a 4-course dinner-for-two, 2 bottles of wine, tax, service, download materials, event experience, and delivery. “Seating” is limited to 20 deliveries of wine-dinner-for-two in the Greater Portland area.
Live outside of our Greater Portland delivery area? No problem. You may met us for contact-less curbside pick-up at 3:45 pm at Chaval. Just make sure to put a note in the comments section at checkout that you’ll do 3:45 curbside at Chaval.
Virtual Dinner Reservations
Roberto Henriquez Background
The new vintages from Roberto Henriquez are here!!! Visiting Roberto just before the Pandemic was an experience I'll remember for the rest of my life, but it feels like it was a different world. I'll try to be concise in my explanation of why Roberto is so awesome, but here's a link to a blog post I wrote at the time:
Wine making in the Bio Bio and Itata valleys of Chile is crazy. The Pais grape variety emerged from an unintentional cross between to imported varieties maybe 300 years ago in Chile. The vines are very well suited to the climate and if left alone will just grow wild up trees. Chile doesn't have phyloxera so all these vines are planted ungrafted on their own root stock. The wine culture in this part of Chile goes back hundreds of years and is associated with peasants and indigenous people. Santiago, the Euro-centric economic capital 300 miles north has always looked down on and ignored the wine culture of BioBio/Itata because of that association with indiginous people. The effect is that wine making in this rural area hasn't changed or been influenced by international markets; people still make wine for their own enjoyment using the same techniques that their Spanish ancestors did 300 years ago. Since the wines were just for local consumption they weren't worth enough for anyone to bother using any fertilizer or pesticides on them beyond maybe manure from local cows. Traditionally wines here are made without additives or any modern intervention and are technically extremely natural, but the local farmers have no idea that there is a "Natural Wine" movement and they're not trying to conform to any preconceptions of what a Natural Wine tastes like... which I think is great and makes these wines more interesting and important.
Roberto made his first vintage in 2013. He made about 500 bottles from the vineyard that would become Notro Tinto. He had grown up around very small scale traditional winemaking from his grand father, but he'd never been exposed to commercial wine making. After that 2013 vintage Roberto became more and more interested in wine making and his local area's unique grapes and traditions. Roberto enrolled in a state agronomy school with a focus in wine making. He was one of only a handful of his original class to make it to graduation. There is no state wine making school or degree in Chile, you have to study to become an agronomist and then focus on wine; It's considered engineering so the bar is quite high and being a state sanctioned agronomist is pretty prestigious. Roberto then worked with Luis Antoine Luyt, a French man who came and was dazzled by the 200 year old vines and first really took these traditional wines out of Chile and presented them to the rest of the world. Roberto and Luis Antoine eventually parted ways, but Roberto says that no one but a French wine professional could have taken these wines to France and convinced the French that they should pay attention to them. Roberto started making his own wines in earnest in 2016.
Warning: these wines are really fantastic, but Roberto's entire yearly production is about 2500 cases. So there is very little to go around. If you want some I would not recommend waiting to order...
Here's a video of Roberto talking about why he pays farmers more than double the market price to farm grapes.
Along with being a talented wine maker Roberto is an endlessly energetic, quietly confident, and extremely driven person. This part of Chile is remote and most people are quite poor. He knows he was lucky to get into the state engineering school and then also lucky to have gone to France and worked with the legendary Loire winery Agnes and Rene Mosse. His time working with them making natural wine in the Loire opened his eyes to the international wine world. He's using his business as a spring board to help other people in his local area. He's trying to stimulate business and empower other local people to look beyond their local horizons. It's kind of amazing that in the space of 5 years he's gone from making wine in a tiny root cellar to now having his own building as a dedicated winery and a following all over the globe! He always takes on a large group of interns from the state agronomy school hoping that he can help get some of them started as wine makers and build a little cluster in his area. Next he's working on plans for a community winery to help small local wine makers and give them the possibility of exporting.
Molino del Ciego
Approximately $30/btl retail
Old vine Semillon from a vineyard in Itata. These are bush vines generally bigger than the ones in the video below but still totally wild. Roberto does a sort of maceration of the grapes through a destemmer and then lets them ferment on the skins in a vat. From there it get's transferred to a big concrete tank where it rests with the skins for several months getting daily punch downs.
The aroma is pretty strong...aromatic sunny spicy pineapple and a hint of rooibus tea. Behind the fruit I can smell white peppercorns and a hint of clove.
The Molino is lush in texture, juicy, tart at first and then the mid palate turns spicy. It's sleek, relaxed, and focused, There's that aromatic spice...like coriander...but then behind that a little gentle caress of tannin that dries your palate out. There is a flavor that reminds me of green tea and also a bit of yuzu. There are definitely some unique Asian sorts of flavors here. Wow, green tea and yuzu is coming across pretty clearly to me!
You can find this at Vessel and Vine, Maine and Loire, Lily's House Cafe, and Aragosta
Here's a short clip of me harvesting bush vines in Itata. This is what the landscape looks like where the Molino comes from
One of Roberto's traditional Rauli fermenters. Rauli is an indigenous tree that's related to the beech family (it's not oak despite what some people will tell you). The wood is hard and dense and it's very slow growing.... so the government cut them all down in order to plant fast growing pulp wood trees for the paper industry! Seriously they're endangered and protected by the government now so it's almost impossible to get new Rauli barrels.
Roberto's brand new winery! It doesn't have water in it yet (he has a garden hose run into it from his house) but this is a huge step for him in having a real work space to keep everything organized. Seriously, he was previously making wine in various sheds and root cellars at the different vineyards he was farming.
Approximately $30/btl retail
A new wine for Roberto, he just bought this vineyard last year. It's old bush vines that grow to just about head high on a little flat piece of ground close to the banks of the Bio Bio river. The soil is all black volcanic sand! Like all of Roberto's reds this is carbonic fermentation.
The aroma is so juicy! It smells like crushed macerated blackberries and black pepper. Like if I cooked a steak and just drowned it in cherries and ground black pepper. It smells so pure and so like Pais
The taste lean cherry, cranberry, tart, then some spicy cedery wood comes in on the midpalate. Lovely pure dark raspberry fruit and cranberry... the fruit is so high-toned! Then the midpalate is spicy and some soft but young tannin comes in. Wow, this is just so so pure and racy and beautiful.
Available at Hops and Vine, Maine and Loire, Maine St Meats, Lorne, Cheese Shop of Portland, and Bath Natural Foods
A quick look around the Pais Franco vineyard. Look at that black volcanic sand! Roberto just bought this vineyard and 2019 is the first vintage he's made of this wine.
Santa Cruz de Coya
Approximately $28/btl Retail
Named for a Spanish city that was razed to the ground by the Mapuche people and now no one even know where precisely it was... this is sort of Roberto's flagship red. It's carbonic but the grapes do get macerated a bit through a destemmer. The soil here is gritty granular decayed bits of red granite; it's just about the same color as the label.
The aroma is ripe raspberry, cherry, blackberry....and also a hint of cooked rhubarb. And there's that hint of smoke too. Right here right now this bottle of Coya doesn't have the expressive aromatics that the Pais Franco and Notro Tinto have, which is kind of surprising because having also tasted this bottle I know that this wine is an absolute firecracker on the palate!
The taste is so juicy, richer, more blackberry, brambley and some lovely plum in the finish. This has some angular acidic and tannic structure, but it's not as dense and muscular as the Notro. It is more juicy and fruity, more of a vivid expressive punch of fruit right in the front of your palate. This is fresh and has uplifting acidity, but also a riot of vivid juicy ripe fruit. Absolutely delicious!
Available at Maine and Loire, Lorne, Cheese Shop of Portland,Hops and Vine, Trillium Caterers, Brooklin General Store, Treats, and Central Provisions
Roberto in an old previously abandoned vineyard that he is slowly recovering and will use for Santa Cruz de Coya. The Pais vines are so hardy and the climate so perfect he maybe sprays some copper sulfate once a year in his vineyards; vineyards in Europe may need 10 treatments to prevent mildew!
Approximately $27/btl Retail
Notro Tinto comes from the first vineyard Roberto started making wine from. The vines are over 100 years old and grow in a mix of rocks left by the Bio Bio river millions of years ago. This vineyard is almost a stones through from the Pais Franco vineyard, but the soils and wines are so different!
Lovely expressive aroma of dried cherries, raspberry, cranberry, some smoke and charcoal too.
the taste is juicy fruit followed by firm tannins and a broad meaty midpalate and then a lovely savory salty component. More substantial and muscular than Roberto's other reds. There's some of that hint of wood smoke in the midpalate as well. Still, overall this is very clean focused (like all Roberto's wines) and the flavors are integrated with precision. This is lovely and fruity in a different way than the Santa Cruz de Coya: more spicy and brambley and a bit chewy.
Available at Maine and Loire
Approximately $27/bottle Retail
Notro Blanco is a blend of Corinto, Moscatel d'Alejandria, and some Semillon, all from vineyards in Itata that are exposed and a bit fresher than in Bio Bio. The free run juice and pressed juice are fermented separately and then blended back together. The wine spends 3 months with skins in the tanks.
Wow, wonderful tropical aroma of Pineapple, a whiff of spruce trees, and some dry honey aromas a bit like mead.
the taste is rich, sunny, with some orange creamsicle and tart tangerine; this is so alive tasting! The character of the wine really gives the impression of the warm sun. The fruit is rich and pineappley, but also citrusy and lemony as well....this is a very complex white and it's tricky to unpack. The finish is savory and there's a sort of taste of baked pastries that lingers. A bit of spice on the mid pallet. Its deep and interesting but not a heavy unctious white; it's still light on its feet and energetic. That freshness is one if the most special things about this. There's a lot of depth but the wine doesn't come across as heavy or thick.
Available at Lily's House, Maine and Loire, Perks Beer and Beverage, Trillium, Aragosta, Primo, Bow St Beverage, Blue Hill Wine Shop, Leeward, Wine Wise, Brooklin General Store, Maine St Meats
Here's a picture of the vineyard that produces most of the Santa Cruz de Coya. Previously abandoned, Roberto has been working on recovering it for about 5 years. It's very well sheltered and you can see the red, gritty, decayed granite soil. He said it had been about 3 years since he had plowed this with a horse and he had spread some manure in the previous year. they do a little bit of pruning to keep the vineyard somewhat passable but they don't need to do any green harvesting of grapes or stuff like that.
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