Monday, September 22, 2008

Brandywine Tasting....
For almost an year I have been part of a local wine tasting club "Brandywine Tasting". The way this works is..
  • Every month members of this club get together at the house of a person/s who volunteer to host. No one does not have to cook, food can be catered or purchased.
  • Another member/s volunteers to research and present a wine.
  • All the members contribute an amount towards the expense of purchasing the wine that is being presented and the food that goes along with the wine.
This wine tasting club for me has been an extremely fun, educational experience. While I am known to drink wine regularly, I could not claim to know much about wines. Being a part of the tasting club has awakened or I should say made me more aware of my palate. It has introduced me to a wonderful group of people, and helped me sample and appreciate wines from many different parts of the world (Spain, Italy, India, Chile, France, US). And it is not like it is just wine, we have had beer and Scotch tastings as well.

The tasting club has been a success in other ways too. The inaugural tasting was covered by the community newspaper. The president of the club has been interviewed on local radio and we will be featured in the next issue of Delaware Today magazine. Not bad eh?
In addition word of the club has helped us get an occasional free wine tasting. And thanks are due to Canio and Christy for doing most of the legwork to keep this club going!
I have been to almost 8 tastings so far, I am not sure why I never blogged about any of them.
Oh well so here goes...

The last tasting I went to was organized by Rob (Thanks man, I know you read this space, and you did a great job making it all happen!) and was hosted at Deerfield Wines in Newark, Delaware. This was a first for us to have a tasting hosted at a wine shop. And not just any wine shop, this was easily amongst the nicest looking wine shops that I have been too. I think if you see the attached slide show on this post you might agree. Dean the manager, was a gracious and wonderful host and the food was Tapas catered by Ole Tapas Lounge. And our wine tasting always have excellent food and this was no exception. The collection of cheeses, meats and other appetizers was a huge hit!

But the highlight of the evening was the wine. The wines featured were from Chile, specifically from the Tamaya winery. And there was to be a surprise guest! When we arrived we found out that the surprise guest was none other that Juan Pablo Martin the vintner for Tamaya wines!!! He was in the region and altered his schedule just so that he could come and do the wine presentation for us!

What followed was a very educative evening about the wines that Tamaya winery featured, as well as an excellent presentation of how the microclimates of the Limari valley and the highlands in Northern Chile are conducive to wine making. There were 5 wines presented but the ones that really stood out for me were..

Sauvignon Blanc 2006 - Clean and light. Very easy on the palate, extreemly refreshing with acidity that struck just the right balance.

Pink Goat (Rose De Syrah) A lovely pink in color. Probably the best Rose that I have tasted so far. Very smooth on the palate.

Carmenere - 2006 - The Carmenere grape while not native to Chile is now mostly found there, and it has a very interesting history that we found out that evening. From wikipedia..

The Carménère grape has known origins in the Médoc region of Bordeaux, France[11] and was also widely planted in the Graves until the vines were struck with oidium.[12] It is almost impossible to find Carménère wines in France today, as a Phylloxera plague in 1867 nearly destroyed all the vineyards of Europe, afflicting the Carménère grapevines in particular such that for many years the grape was presumed extinct.

Far from being extinct, in recent years the Carménère grape has been discovered to be thriving in several areas outside of France. In Chile, growers almost inadvertently preserved the grape variety during the last 150 years, due largely to its similarity to Merlot.
Thanks to Chile's minimal rainfall during the growing season and the protection of the country's natural boundaries, growers produced healthier crops of Carménère and there was no spread of phylloxera.

A similar situation occurred in Italy when, in 1990, the Ca' del Bosco Winery acquired what they thought was Cabernet Franc vines from a French nursery. The growers noticed that the grapes were different from the traditional Cabernet Franc both in color and taste. They also noticed that the vines ripened earlier than Cabernet Franc would have.
This was clearly the highlight of the evening. This wine turned out to be a pleasant surprise, wine had a deep red color, a wonderful aroma of spices and berries. More importantly the tannins were easy on the tastebuds and it was just a wonderful medium bodied wine that everyone loved. I am sure Carmenere's fascinating story had something to do with it, too but for me the wine itself did the trick.

In return for hosting the tasting, we were expected to buy at least a bottle of wine from the store. And it was not a surprise that pretty much everyone bought the wines that were presented that evening. Actually the Carmere sold out!! I think the store must have sold at least a 1000$ worth of wine after the presentation.

If you want to know more about Tamaya wines, here is a link.

All in all an excellent evening and time well spent I thought. There is a slide show of the evening for those of you interested, there is also a caption on each picture. Hover over the slide show to see each one and click on the little note icon on the menu at the bottom to turn on the captions for each slide, also have buttons to control the slide show.

Made with Slideshow Embed Tool

For those of you unable to view the slide show....

Juan Pablo Martin, the wine maker for Tamaya wines, Chile.

Excellent Tapas, catered by Deerfield wines from Ole' Tapas Lounge, Newark, DE. The Prosciutto and dips were yum!

Excellent Tapas, catered by Deerfield wines from Ole' Tapas Lounge, Newark, DE. -2

Some of the Tamaya wines we tasted for the evening.

Tamaya Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah - Reserve

The refreshing Sauvignon Blanc and the pleasant Rose de Syrah

Dude's having a blast!

A most excellent presentation!

Juan Pablo Martin (J P Martin) the winemaker of Tamaya wines flew down from Chile and changed his schedule so he could do a presentation for the club

Wines signed by the wine maker!

Folks completely taken by the presentation!

Wine, food, great company make for excellent conversations!

All eyes and ears!

Canio..that is a great pic man!

The food is always good at our wine tastings!

Alex Rivera, local expert in Chilean wines

Can I have some more of that please?

I would like to thank Canio for letting me use some of the pictures he took for this post. And if any of you local folks want to be a part of the Brandywine Tasting Club, send an e-mail to :
brandywinetasting at Also check out our website at We always welcome new members.


Lotus Reads said...

Sanjay, what a very interesting post, thank you! I can hardly describe myself as a regular wine drinker, but I am curious about wines and would love to know more about them. Joining a wine tasting club, like the kind you describe here, would be something I would enjoy,I think. I will have to look for some in my neighborhood.

Loved reading about the Carmenere wine...I'm curious, did you manage to secure yourself a bottle before it was sold out? :)

Couldn't see the slideshow for some reason...must be my PC, will try again tomorrow.

Do keep posting! You do some very interesting stuff and I love reading all about it!

deepsat said...

this is quite informative. something which i always wanted to try. ;-))

Sanjay said...

Hi there Lotus! How are you? There might be a wine club in your neighborhood, also if you have any good wine shops around, they may also host wine tastings? I hope that you find one!

The Carmenere does have an interesting history doesn't it?
Yes I was able to get a bottle of both the Carmenere and the Rose.! Got the last bottle of the Carmenere actually!

Sorry about the slide show. Perhaps you have script turned off? I was able to see it in Firefox and IE as well.

Thank you for your comment and the words of encouragement! Take care!

Sanjay said...

Deepsat, Thanks man! Australia has some wine wines too!

Anonymous said...

Have you heard a Wine tasting at Hockessin Athletic Club? Coming soon.

donviti said...

very well done

chello baya! (sp?) :)

Anonymous said...

wow what a write up. that was awesome! thank you. also can't see the pictures at the end of the post

Anonymous said...

wow what a write up. that was awesome! thank you. also can't see the pictures at the end of the post

Sanjay said...

@Anonymous -1. No not heard about that wine tasting club. Thanks for the info and for stopping by.

@Donviti.. Thanks man. It is Chalo Bhaiyya! But you were close. :)

@Anonymous -2. Thank you for your comment. Glad you liked reading the post. I have pics up now too, that are outside of the slide show.

donviti said...

got it...

great pics, now that I can see them.

fyi: christy was anon @ 8:25pm :)

sandhya said...

Neat post. I went to a wine tasting last year at a friend's house. He had a French vintner visiting who was trying to get Americans to invest in a subplot of his vineyard in the south of France. I was tremendously impressed by his passion for small, local efforts and the old-fashioned way of making wines and even though I can barely tell the difference between one type of wine or another, a good wine certainly stands out. I'll keep my eyes peeled for a club like this here in NYC. It sounds like a fun and educational experience.

starry nights said...

sounds like a lot of fun.I love a good glass of wine occasionally.Interesting facts about all those different wines.thanks.

Sanjay said...

Donviti, Thanks. I did wonder who anon2 was. Thank you for telling me.

Sandhya, How fascinating! I wonder if the French Vintner got any Americans to invest in a subplot. I wonder what they call someone who loves local wines? I suppose that is still a locavore.
I agree that one can tell good wine from bad. I once picked up a case of wine that was $7 a bottle as I am known to drink a glass of red in the evenings. It was not bad, but like you said I could tell the difference compared to the other better wines at home. Talking about palates, I don't think I have a very sensitive palate either. Some flavors just escape me. :)
I am sure you will be able to find a wine tasting group in NYC.
Thank you for stopping by.

Sanjay said...

Hey Starry, thank you for your comment. I could not agree more, nothing like an occasional glass of wine.

Lotus Reads said...

You said:

also if you have any good wine shops around, they may also host wine tastings? I hope that you find one!

Now that's a great suggestion! I just might do that! Thanks a bunch Sanjay!

Sanjay said...

Hey Lotus, thanks and you are so very welcome. I am sure some of the better wine shops in your neck of the woods may hold tastings and perhaps know some wine tasting groups? I sure hope you find something.
Have a great evening ahead!