A fresh look at Chilean wines

Posted on: 10th April, 2017

Category: The Wine Buff

Contributor: Tony Eklof

Tony Eklof, originally from New England, has settled in Clonakilty after a career as a librarian at University College Dublin. His knowledge and passion for wine has been inspired by frequent visits to the wine growing regions of the continent, particularly Italy and France.

I was reading recently a fascinating article about a father and son from the tiny village of Ballynary in Sligo who both made names for themselves in Chile in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The father, Ambrose O’Higgins, was a conservative, and served the Spanish South American rulers eventually becoming Governor of Chile. The son, Bernardo, was a revolutionary and a leader of newly independent Chile, now revered by Chileans as a national hero.

It got me thinking about Chile, and the impact that the overthrow of the democratically-elected government of Salvatore Allende in 1973 had on me, as a young, idealistic man at the time. As it was revealed that the American CIA had undermined the Allende government and ushered in the notorious Pinochet regime, I would never again think that my country was always on the side of the good guys. (Perhaps you have seen the film Missing, the true story of an American journalist’s disappearance during the aftermath of the coup, and featuring one of Jack Lemmon’s finest performances.)

I’m not sure that the events above led indirectly to my admitted neglect of Chilean wines. More likely that for years, there was a sameness to the product. Anyone for a cheap Cabernet or Merlot from Chile?

Another factor is that the Chilean climate and growing conditions lead to high alcohol levels, which I find myself shying away from. I have a Cabernet from one of the top growers in my cave but at 14.5 per cent, I keep finding reasons not to pop the cork.

There have been exceptions. One of my favourite restaurants in Dublin was a classy Chinese place in Stillorgan whose house wine was the very fine Antiguas Reservas from the House of Cousino Macul, and this powerful full-bodied red made a perfect if unconventional accompaniment to the spicy dishes on offer.

Now it is time for me to have a rethink. Two factors have influenced me. The quality of Chilean wines has improved dramatically and there has been a move away from big oaky wines to more subtle and approachable types. The emergence of the Carmenere grape, as the country’s flagship has lifted the profile of Chilean wine. Carmenere (pronounced carmeneary) is an old Bordeaux variety, which yields rich and deep wines when grown in the valleys (Maipo, Rapel, Maule) of the Andes.

The second factor is the unquestioned popularity of Chilean wine with you, the consumers. A few years ago sales of Chilean wine in Ireland (two million cases!) overtook both previous leaders Australia and France so that Chilean wine is now officially the most popular in Ireland.

This month’s recommendation: Vistamar Sepia Reserva, Carmenere 2015. O’Donovan’s Wines, Bandon, €13. Deep violet in colour, tastes of vanilla and mocha, a lovely drop, and only 13.5 per cent.

westcorkwinebuff@gmail.com.

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Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition 23 February 2018

The inaugural Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition will take place in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen this Friday 23rd February. As part of Engineers Week 2018, leaders and members of Ballineen Foróige Club have organised an exhibition which will showcase a diverse and exciting range of engineering projects that have been undertaken by members of the club over the last few weeks, with the aid of leaders and a number of local engineers.

With the aid of local pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, along with the support of STEAM Education, a UCC based company focused on promoting science, technology, engineering, arts, and maths subjects in primary schools, Ballineen Foróige has been engaging members and leaders in all things engineering over the last six weeks. From researching, designing, and prototyping a project based on local problems, to participating in various workshops on coding and careers in engineering, Ballineen Foróige have been extremely busy in preparation for the exhibition this coming Friday night.

On the night itself, Michael Loftus, Head of Engineering at CIT, Fintan Goold, Manager at Eli Lilly and All-Ireland Cork winning Footballer, along with Geraldine Coughlan of GCA Architects & Designers, a local business, will act as judges on the night, evaluating the different engineering projects and offering some advice to the members of the club. Also in attendance will be the CEO of Foróige Seán Campbell, along with a number of local councillors, TD’s and Senators.

Leading the team of Ballineen Foróige leaders organising the event, is Rebecca Dwyer, a bioprocess engineer at Eli Lilly. Rebecca recently became a leader in the club and says that Ballineen Foróige Young Engineer Exhibition 2018 “promises to be a fun, challenging and rewarding experience for all involved and we look forward to welcoming parents, relatives, friends and members of the public to the exhibition and film screening on the evening of Friday 23rd February.” Overall, there are twelve projects entered in the exhibition. One project, led by Cian Kennefick and Charlie Nolan, members of the starting out club, examines the possibility of installing speed ramps on the road near local primary school. Fourteen-year-old Charlie says he got involved in the project as it was something to do and it gets you thinking. Cian says the most exciting part of the project was the building of the prototypes.

Both Cian and Charlie, along with thirty other members of the club will display their projects this coming Friday 23 February in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen. Doors open at 8pm and the event runs until 10pm. All are welcome to attend, and admission is free. Catering, including tea and coffee, will be provided on the night.
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17th February, 2018  ·  

Check out this new upbeat indie-folk track Edges, released today from Inni-K with a video by Myles O'Reilly. Inni-K will be performing at Levis’, Ballydehob on Saturday 24th February, with support from Sam Clague.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1jc2tlH75Q
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16th February, 2018  ·  

Vikings talk in Clonakilty!

“The Viking Gold and Silver Hoards from County Cork” is the topic of the next Dúchas Clonakilty Heritage lecture on Thursday 22nd at the Parish Centre starting at 8pm.

It will be delivered by John Sheehan, senior lecturer in the Archaeology Department, UCC and a former member of the Heritage Council and the Board of the National Museum of Ireland.

The Vikings were an important presence in Ireland for over two centuries. As well as inflicting great terror they were also responsible for introducing urbanism and new economic systems to the country.

In this talk the focus will be on the economy, looking at the gold and silver hoards that were buried in Co. Cork. It will also explore how these hoards were discovered, what happened to them, and where they are now!
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15th February, 2018  ·  

Bandon Toastmasters is a club that helps people overcome Glossophobia, a fear of public speaking. The club is holding a night of inspirational and motivational speakers on February 22 that is a must for anybody wishing to overcome this phobia.
Tickets can be purchased either on the club's facebook page or through eventbrite.

www.eventbrite.ie/e/bandon-toastmasters-presents-ignite-your-potential-tickets-41871052445?aff=es2
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