I never liked celery in the UK, finding it dull and tasteless. However, the celery in Chile is a whole different product. It grows enormous, is in its natural green state instead of that unnatural white we are used to and it has heaps of flavour. This salad is a very satisfying pairing of two very classic Chilean ingredients.
2-3 stems of celery
1-2 ripe avocadoes
Chop the celery sticks into short sticks, removing any stringy bits.
Peel the avocadoes, chop in half and remove the stone, then cut into similar sized pieces.
Add salt, lemon juice and olive oil to taste.
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How has your week been? I, for one, am very glad that the weekend is almost here! Spring has arrived in Chile – the sky is blue, the lizards have come out of hibernation, the birds are vocal and the garden is alive with colour. This photo shows Hazel just soaking up the sunshine in our front yard.
Of course, for anyone in the Northern Hemisphere, there will be a touch of autumn in the air and the new academic year will be getting going. Either way, the arrival of the weekend is worth celebrating in style.
So how about a glass of fizz to get the weekend off to a good start?
For a good, reliable sparkling, you can’t go far wrong with Undurraga Brut Royal. Nice and fresh and goes with whatever you like, alone or with food.
For something a little different, check out Estelado by Miguel Torres. Made with the País grape, it’s a salmon pink and delights the taste buds. My friends and I can always find a good excuse to taste sparkling wine and Estelado always ranks highly.
Finally, if you can’t decide if you fancy fizz or not, you could play it safe with one of Chile’s brand new Moscato Frizzante wines, which have just that little bit of sparkle and are relatively low in alcohol. Check out Echeverría’s Moscato Frizzante for a light, refreshing drink perfect for a hot day. On the sweet side but well balanced, so it comes across as young and fruity rather than sickly sweet.
Tasting led by winemaker Cristóbal Undurraga at Vinoteca in August 2015. These are biodynamic wines.
New, not yet available for sale. A light and refreshing dry wine, perfect for a hot summer’s day.
Carménère 2012, Alto Colchagua
Pleasant, easy-drinking Carménère with upfront spices, such as cloves, followed by a touch of green pepper. Medium + tannins. Smooth enough to drink on its own, but would pair well with any red meat.
Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Alto Colchagua
Contains 10% Cabernet Franc. Another versatile and easy-drinking red. Plenty of black and red fruit, followed by the spices. Medium body, tannins and finish.
Syrah 2012, Alto Colchagua
Another very pleasant wine, a little more intense with interesting notes of meat and gunpowder.
Koyle Royale Carménère 2012
Contains 8% Malbec, 5% Petit Verdot. This Carménère packs a punch; black pepper, cassis, cacao and a touch of the farmyard and slight minerality in the nose. Nice ripe tannins, spice, delectable acidity, lovely mouthfeel with just that touch of ashtray.
Koyle Royale Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
Intense, fruit first, then the spices (vanilla, cinnamon, a touch of menthol). Lovely mouthfeel, tooth-coating tannins, pleasant acidity, very fresh.
37% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Carménère, 18% Malbec, 13% Syrah and 7% Petit Verdot
What a wine! The first thing that hits you is that perfume coming right out of the glass! Intense, sweet and hard to define. I asked Cristóbal and he suggested mandarins and violets. I would add cherry pie with cacao and a touch of liquorice and blueberry. Just smelling this wine is like a feast in itself. In the mouth, smooth, rounded with big smooth tannins, lots of body and fruit and a slightly bitter cacao note, long in the finish.
33% Malbec, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Carménère, 14% Syrah and 7% Petit Verdot
Quite a different beast. Intense and powerful with cassis, cherries, cinnamon and that bitter cacao note again. Delightful wine but pales beside the 2010 vintage.
Winemaker Pablo Barros presented some Apaltagua’s wines at Vinoteca in July 2015.
Costera Extra Brut sparkling wine, Leyda Valley
Interesting and delightfully refreshing; an affordable sparkling wine made using the in-bottle fermentation method. Nice salinity thanks to the coastal origin of the grapes.
Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2014, San Antonio
Nice, chewy Sauvignon Blanc with crisp, apple and chilli acidity and a saline note just begging for some seafood.
Gran Reserva Envero 2013, Colchagua Valley
93% Carménère, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon. Upfront vanilla and cinnamon followed by red fruit and blackcurrants with a slight hint of yogurt. Very elegant, ripe tannins, good acidity, creamy with a touch of ashtray in the mouth. This would go beautifully with a juicy steak and peppers.
Tutunjian Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Curicó
Black fruit, blackberries and blackcurrants are followed by vanilla. Smooth is the word for this wine; smooth entry, smooth tannins, pleasing acidity with a nice, smooth finish with a touch of spice. Very drinkable.
Signature Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Maipo
This is a lean, elegant and powerful Cabernet Sauvignon with notes of fennel and liquorice in amongst the fruit. High acidity, nicely balanced body, good length. Would work well with a highly flavoured meat dish, such as lamb or game.
60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Carménère, 12% Syrah, 10% Malbec, from different wine regions. Raspberries, blueberries and currants combine with liquorice and cinnamon in an elegant and smooth fruity wine with firm tannins and high acidity. Cries out for a rich lamb dish.
Apaltagua Grial 2009, Colchagua
Inky Carménère with an expressive nose featuring plums, blackcurrants, black pepper, chilli and liquorice. Smooth and well-rounded with elegant tannins, a vegetal touch and a hint of ashtray. This wine will hold its own with spicy dishes, as well as a well-seasoned red meat dish.
Very pale and shiny. Apples and maracuyas. Good acidity, light-bodied, well-balanced. Refreshing and pleasant.
Novas Viognier 2013, Casablanca
Shiny, light yellow. Nose of melon, honey, white flowers, lychees, banana. Unctuous, slightly oily hint, sweet touch, chewy, high acidity and good finish. Slight pneumatic hint again in the aftertaste.
Novas Carménère-Cabernet Sauvignon, 2013, Colchagua
Medium purple in colour. Nice fruity nose features raspberry jam, plums, cherries, some black pepper and green peppers, a touch of cinnamon and vanilla. Medium tannins, nice and smooth, high acidity, medium + alcohol, peppery, medium finish.
Medium + intensity, reddish purple. Complex nose reveals cassis, blackberries, plums, cinnamon, vanilla and a hint of smoke. Smooth tannins, medium+ alcohol, good body, good acidity, medium finish. Nice, elegant wine.
You know those dishes so ingrained into local culinary culture that everyone will swear that their own recipe is the right one, such as paella in Spain or pumpkin pie in the States? Well, here in Chile, one such dish is Carne Mechada, a piece of stewing beef stuffed with vegetables and slowly braised in liquid until it almost melts in your mouth. We’re talking serious comfort food.
Well, this is the way I make it.
1 kilo of beef (any braising cut)
1 large onion, diced
Half a red pepper, diced
5 cloves of garlic, sliced
2 carrots, cut lengthways into thick sticks
2 kilos of tomatoes, skinned and chopped.
Lots of fresh Mediterranean herbs, whatever you have to hand.
Salt and pepper to taste.
First use a large, sharp knife to make holes in the meat.
Stuff these holes with the carrot and garlic.
Heat some olive oil in a large saucepan.
Cook the onion until translucent.
Remove and put to one side.
Turn up the heat, put the piece of meat into the pan and brown it on all sides. Then add the fried onion, the red pepper, chopped tomatoes and herbs.
Top up with water until the meat is covered with liquid.
Put on the lid and leave to simmer over a low heat for an hour or so, checking every once in a while.
When the meat is cooked through, remove the lid and continue to simmer. The meat will become really tender and the sauce thicker and more concentrated.
When the sauce has reduced and thickened or you’ve run out of patience, season to taste.
Remove the meat from the pot, slice it, then return the slices to the hot sauce.
Serve with pasta.
Carne mechada is even better one or two days after it is cooked.
This dish pairs beautifully with any characterful, fruity Chilean red wine, especially ones with medium to high acidity, like Carignan. You could try Indomita Gran Reserva Carignan 2013. For more information about Chilean Carignan, check out my article Vigno: the renaissance of Chilean Carignan.
Clear, light, almost translucent. Fruity nose dominated by grapefruit, maracuya, apple and a touch of green chilli pepper with a floral hint. Good acidity in the mouth, citrus but not like sucking a sour lemon, well-rounded, with good body and relatively long in the finish.
Gran Reserva Chardonnay 2013, Casablanca
Shiny yellow. Oak aromas mingled with bananas, pineapple and red apple. Good body, a bit oily, high alcohol, good acidity, that hint of oil in the mouth.
Gran Reserva Pinot Noir 2013, Casablanca
Light purple; classic nose of strawberry flavoured toffee with hints of chocolate and vanilla. Dry, high acidity, slightly astringent tannins, good alcohol and fruit.
Gran Reserva Syrah 2012, Casablanca
Classic inky purple colour. Nose of blackcurrant cordial with olives, black pepper and a hint of leather. Strong, tannic with high acidity, good body, almost chewy. Potential to evolve a little more.
Gran Bosque Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Maipo
Intense purple with good legs. Expressive nose featuring blackcurrants, blackberries, cherries, sweet spices, such as cinnamon and cloves. A sweet, chewy, elegant wine with smooth tannins, high alcohol and well-integrated acidity. I think this would benefit from more ageing.
This tasting was part of the premium tour at the winery in June 2015.