A Virtual Chilean Wine Tasting -- Without the Virtual

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Lee Klein
A virtual tasting of 8 Sauvignon Blancs from Chile (five of which were D.O.'s) took place last Wednesday evening. The promoters of the evening, Wines of Chile, invited me to participate along with 50 other wine enthusiasts, bloggers, writers, etc. We had all received our bottles in advance, along with info and a mat marked with a circle upon which each bottle could be placed. Master Sommelier and Wines of Chile Educator Fred Dexheimer was the host, and a winemaker representing each vineyard spoke, online from Santiago, Chile, as their wine was simultaneously sipped across America.

Just a couple of small problems:
1. I am technologically inept.
2. My computer is so old that when you click on to something necessitating a Flash requirement it links to a YouTube video of a guy exposing himself.

So I tried the Twitter route, as the wine tasters were using that forum as well. Again, my lack of finesse, especially in using hash marks, or whatever they're called, led to me sending off a lone tweet that surely never reached any Chilean wine tasters. It wasn't an especially profound tweet either -- I wondered whether I was correctly picking up pear notes in the Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2009 (Casablanca Valley; $10.99). Luckily there was a third participatory option involving a technology that I've come pretty close to mastering: The telephone.

After duly dialing an 888 number, I got to listen in to each vintner speak. In order to play catch-up I guzzled the Veramonte. It was light enough to do so. The online consensus (gleaned afterward): Crisp and citrusy.

I glugged down vino numero two as well, another crisp,  relative lightweight that went down smoothly: Ventisquero Queulat Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (Casablanca Valley, $17). It might be mentioned here that I'm from Brooklyn, a borough whose populace has traditionally been known to spit phlegm, gum, and profanities. But we never spit wine.

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Lee Klein
A favorite
Nor do I like to waste any, so I finished each pour. Meaning that after number three, a bright, peppery, citrus-driven Undurraga T.H. Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (Leyda Valley; $15.99), things became a little wobbly. I even forgot that I had plugged into the phone system as caller number 11, although those calls were still a ways off. Because I had noted scant mention of the labels in the discussions -- my one area of expertise -- I was prepared to ask winemaker number five if he thought switching to a livelier label might imply a livelier wine. Good thing I never made it to the call, as the Santa Rita Medalla Real Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (Leyda Valley; $19.99), whose look I was going to criticize, turned out to be the big hit of the evening -- expansive, intense, distinctive. In general, the Leyda Valley wines had the most praise heaped upon them among the bloggers.

(Speaking of which -- for a serious discussion of this virtual tasting go to blogwinecellar.com).

A cat fight outdoors took me away from the phone for awhile; when I returned and picked up the receiver I wasn't sure if the vintner from wine number five or six was talking -- or, for a few seconds, whether he was speaking in Spanish or English. I was pretty much finished for the night.

I still have four bottles left for my next tasting -- which, I can assure you, will not involve anything but a corkscrew and glass.

For next time:
Single Vineyard Wild Fermented Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Cono Sur Organic Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Haras de Pirque Haras Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Casa Silva Cool Coast Sauvignon Blanc 2009

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