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» Chilean Shootout

By Charles Borden

Any expat wine shopper in Moscow knows first hand about the poor price/value relationship of wines available in Moscow. A standard bottle of Robert Mondavi Woodbridge Cabernet (the Cherokee Station third world export version) retails at 410 roubles ($14.70) versus $8.99 for a 1.5 litre bottle of the real thing at John Ortega’s favourite wine store, Hi-Time Liquor in Costa Mesa.

Passport asked our wine panel to help our readers find some decent wines in Moscow’s supermarkets and wine shops. This month we began with Chile, the New World wine country that has the largest selection in Moscow. Vineyards were first planted in Chile in the 16th century by Spanish missionaries and explorers, and in recent years large investments in the wine industry have paid off with international awards and sales.

Our tasters managed to put away quite a few bottles of Chilean Cabs and Chards, all bought over the counter in the 400 to 700 rouble price range. These prices ought to fetch a decent everyday drinking wine, even in Moscow.

Our team assembled for the task at Gorki Restaurant on Tverskaya. We started with the Chards and finished with the Cabs, keeping an even pace with the help of our attentive waiter. This was not a blind tasting and we weren’t trying to assign Wine Spectator scores. The simple Passport system is meant to help us (and you) determine which wines are worth buying and trying. The midpoint (3.0) is the pass/fail point, and a 4+ means that we found a pretty decent bottle.

Personally, I was disappointed in the wines, and only a few really stood out. I expected better, especially of the whites. The Errazuriz wines have consistently received awards and the wines of their sister winery, Caliterra, are available in Moscow at a lower price point. The Casillero del Diablo is available at Metro for 230 rubles. The Carmen Casablanca Chardonnay closely followed the Casillero. This wine is from Chile’s famous Casablanca region, which produces some of the country’s best grapes. These three wines are worth another try.

The Panel:

Charles W. Borden
Jeffrey Combs
Julia Evdokimova
Paul O’Brien
John Ortega
Barry Shea
Mark Stiles
Director, Meridian Capital
Director, NCI Telecommunications
of Arcum Wine Trading SA
Owner, Starlite Diners, Uley and Guilly restaurants
Publisher, Passport Magazine
President, The Pepsi Bottling Group
General Director, Cushman & Wakefield Stiles & Riabokobylko

Tasting Notes: Cabernet Sauvignon

Errazuriz 2003 (WC 493 - $17.67)
Winemakers Notes: Presents an array of ripe red and black fruits with spicy accents. Notes of toasted bread, dark-roast coffee and vanilla form a rich backdrop to the ripe fruit. The mouth is medium bodied and lively, with good acidity and spicy, chalky tannins. The medium-long finish is full and clean, like a bowl of fresh berries. The delicious fruit characters make this wine enjoyable now, and it should continue to age well for four or five years after vintage.
Montes 2003 (AV 454 - $16.27) 3.26 
Molina Reserva 2001 (WC 422 - $15.13) 3.32
Escudo Rojo Baron Rothschild 2002 (AV 678 - $24.30) 3.20
Miguel Torres 2003 (AM 502 - $17.99) 3.16

Tasting Notes: Chardonnay

Casillero Del Diablo 2003 (AV 436 - $15.63)
Winemakers Notes: The wine has a lemon-yellow colour. It is rich and appealing with heavy pineapple fruit, toasty oak and a creamy butter texture. It is an elegant, round and mouthfilling wine balanced by crisp acidity for a long and memorable finish.
Carmen Casablanca 2002 (AM 529 - $18.96) 3.46
Carmen Reserve 2002 (EV 640 - $22.94) 3.36 
Luis Felipe Edwards 2004 (AV 407 - $14.59) 2.52
Montes Reserve 2003 (WC 540 - $19.35) 2.07 

Key: Shown above are location purchased, rouble price, equivalent USD, and rating.
EV = Elitnoe Vino, WC = Wine Collection, AV = Azbuka Vkusa, AM = Aromatny Mir



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