Almaviva Red 1998
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
The 1998 Almaviva is one of the few vintages that were never rated, and as I had the chance to taste a bottle from the winery with current winemaker Michel Friu, I took the opportunity to write this note to complete the information in our database. 1998 was at the time considered one of the worst vintages ever, for the simple reason that it was a very rainy year, with 730 liters of rain during the year in Puente Alto. It was also a cooler year, and they were not ready for such weather; many were unprepared, and there was less ripeness, which was considered a catastrophe at the time. The thing with years that are less ripe, with moderate alcohol and more acidity, is that the wines often develop better than expected, sometimes better than the warm and dry years, and this 1998 is a good example of that.
Almaviva is the name of both winery and wine born of the joint venture between Baron Philippe de Rothschild and Viña Concha y Toro. It is also that of Pierre de Beaumarchais' character, the "Count of Almaviva" in his Marriage of Figaro, a work Wolfang Amadeus Mozart later turned into one of the most popular operas ever. The classical epithet, laid out in Pierre de Beaumarchais' fair hand, shares the label with insignia of pre-hispanic roots symbolizing a union of European and American cultures that at every level has created successive bonds over centuries that have evolved a unique identity. The recent synthesis of French tradition and American soil has delivered an exceptional wine embodying the best of both worlds, a Primer Orden that really shines.
Long and narrow, with a continuous coastline and the Andes Mountains along its eastern border, Chile remains an exciting frontier for wines of all styles.
The country’s wine growing regions vary widely in climate and geography from north to south. Chile’s Coquimbo region in the far north contains the Elqui and Limari Valleys, where minimal rainfall and intense sunlight are offset by chilly breezes from the Humboldt Current. Historically this region focused solely on Pisco production, but today finds success with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
The Maipo, Rapel, Curicó and Maule Valleys produce a wide variety of red and white wines. Maipo in particular is known for Carmenère, Chile’s unofficial signature grape. In the up-and-coming southern regions of Bio Bio and Itata make excellent Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
One of the world’s most classic and popular styles of red wine, Bordeaux-inspired blends have spread from their homeland in France to nearly every corner of the New World, especially in California, Washington and Australia. Typically based on either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot and supported by Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, these are sometimes referred to in the US as “Meritage” blends. In Bordeaux itself, Cabernet Sauvignon dominates in wines from the Left Bank of the Gironde River, while the Right Bank focuses on Merlot. Often, blends from outside the region are classified as being inspired by one or the other.
Tasting Notes for Bordeaux Blends
Bordeaux Blends are dry, red wines and generally have aromas and flavors of black currant, black cherry plum, graphite, cedar and violet. Cabernet-based, Left-Bank-styled wines are typically more tannic and structured, while Merlot-based wines, modeled after the Right Bank, are softer and suppler. Cabernet Franc can add herbal notes, while Malbec and Petit Verdot contribute color and structure.
Perfect Food Pairings for Bordeaux Blends
Since Bordeaux red blends are often quite structured and tannic, they pair best with hearty, flavorful and fatty meat dishes. Any type of steak makes for a classic pairing. Equally welcome with these wines would be beef brisket, pot roast, braised lamb or smoked duck.
Sommelier Secrets for Bordeaux Blends
While the region of Bordeaux is limited to a select few approved grape varieties in specified percentages, the New World is free to experiment. Bordeaux blends in California may include equal amounts of Cabernet Franc and Malbec, for example. Occassionally a winemaker might add a small percentage of a non-Bordeaux variety, such as Syrah or Petite Sirah for a desired result.