Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Evil Bugs, Saintly Science (Santa Rita 120 Sauv Blanc)

Always bring a long list of potentials to the liquor store.  I learned this is an important policy when you have specific wine(s) in mind for the evening.  I was going to write about an ’07 Tormaresca Chardonnay from Italy, or an ’08 Pink Elephant from Portugal but due to a list of potentials that was too short I had to resort to a bottle at the back of my fridge.  This taught me a valuable lesson; two wines on a wine list are not enough: go for five. 

The wine hiding at the back of my fridge was a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc.  As it turns out a short wine list and a lack of availability resulted in a delicious evening.  The Sauvignon Blanc was made with grapes grown in Chile’s Valle Central.  Chile has always been a wine country that has fascinated me.  Chilean wines are consistently good and their price is often much cheaper than their French, Californian or Australian counter parts.  Chile is definitely one of the most underrated wine regions in the world which is good news for us wine drinkers.  If you don’t drink much Chilean wine I suggest you stop reading this and run to your nearest liquor store.  If you are a white drinker look for a Sauvignon Blanc from the Casablanca region, if you’re into reds look no further than a Syrah (Shiraz) from the Elqui Valley.  If you manage to find a Syrah from the Elqui Valley please tell me as I have been looking for some time now.  For an easier find try a Carmenere.  What you will almost certainly find is that you’ve paid barely any money for a wine that is wholly delicious!

Besides having inexpensive good wine Chile is known for being one of the only areas that managed to go unaffected by the phylloxera outbreak in the mid to late 1800’s.  Phylloxera, a demon of a bug, is an aphid like insect that attaches itself to the roots of grape vines.  Once affixed to its host, phylloxera sucks the life out of the vine more specifically it takes the nutrients disrupting the fruits ability to grow well.  This leaves grapes that can barely produce any juice and therefore no wine!  Phylloxera devastated vineyards around the world.  There were a few areas that managed to keep the bug at bay due to their conveniently inaccessible geography.  Parts of Australia, Argentina, and Chile were unreachable as well as the islands of Crete, Cyprus and Rhodes. 

You may have noticed that while you can get wine from phylloxera-free areas there are a lot more regions you can get wine from too.  Thanks to some wine loving scientists we still have wine from all over the world.  The phylloxera pest is native to North America where the native Vitis aestivalis grape vines are largely resistant to it’s nutrient sucking.  The solution to replenishing the world wine stocks lay in grafting Vitis aestivalis (not so good wine making grape vines) roots on to Vitis vinifera (good wine making grape vines) effectively immunizing wine grapes!  Were it not for science Chile would be one of only a handful of regions with the ability to grow tasty wine, which based on the wine I tried tonight might not have been such a horrible thing.

Wine: Santa Rita 120 Sauvignon Blanc

Grape: Sauvignon Blanc

Region: Valle Central, Chile (Valle Central consists of Maipo, Rapel, Curico, and Maule.  However it seems to vary depending on who you consult, one way or another its approximately around there.)

Year: 2009

Alcohol: 13.5% by vol.

Price: $11.99

Sweetness: Dry (none)

Aroma: Strong mineral, Peach, Citrus, Slight floral

Taste: Mineral (like licking metal, but in a good way), white peach, slight tangerine, hints of floral (yes it tastes almost exactly as it smells)

Notes: Very nice wine, don't drink it too cold though it has really nice flavours and the cold will just mask that.  It's got nice acidity but not overwhelming, a very well balanced wine.  Even my roommate Matt who doesn't especially like whites asked for a refill.

Final Verdict: This wine is awesome the mouth feel is slightly off which is why I'm only giving it an A however for its price bracket it gets an A+ this could probably beat or tie a lot of wines in the $20 range.


  1. Matt asked for a refill? Now I've heard everything!

    On a more serious note, what do you think Cretan wine would be like, and where might I try some?

    Loving the blog, Mushu!

  2. Boutari is a producer on one of the Cycladic Islands they make a wine called Agiorgitiko which is sold at the liquor store on 1087 Mckenzie Ave in Vic. The Cycladic Islands also were phylloxera free. There are a few other wines by Boutari. I can't find any wines sold in BC that are actually from Crete but the Cycladic Islands should be pretty much the same. They usually use native grapes in Greece so don't expect to see anything you even vaguely recognize.

  3. I am really enjoying these little articles! They appeal to my nerdiness as well as my love of alcohol.

  4. Your going to fast, Cormier. I can't drink bottles of wine as fast as you're suggesting them. I do, however, want to try this one.