Greg and Amanda Day with Neil Hodgson in middle
Although I’ve reviewed the Escudo Rojo wines imported and distributed by Kahurangi Liquor Distributors nearly a year ago before (click here the see my reviews), Greg and Amanda Day invited a group of wine media, including myself to try a selection of the wines again, but in the context of a matched food course luncheon prepared by the chef at Poquito Bare & Café in Tory Street, Wellington. It was good to be able to interact in a less formal situation with the Days, who are very personable, as well as the other media. Nelson writer Neil Hodgson made the journey over the Cook Strait, and it was especially good to catch up with him. www.kahurangiwine.com
Escudo Rojo is the Chilean wine venture of Baron Philippe de Rothschild SA who established the operation in 1999. The bodega and 63 ha of vineyards are located at Buin-Maipo, 45 km south of Santiago in the Maipo Valley. Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Syrah, Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon are planted to produce varietal wines as well as a rosé and a Bordeaux-blend, named simply ‘Escudo Rojo’. The wines are priced in the affordable premium category. The style of the wines is more typically Chilean in flavour and structure – as dictated by the terroir –and the wines are fleshy and robust, quite user-friendly, in the New World style. I’m sure there is an influence coming from the French ownership and Bordeaux-made wines, whether Mouton-Cadet or Chateau Mouton-Rothschild, but it is subtle at present, and may show itself more with time. In the grand scheme of things, it has not been 20 years since the venture began, so who knows where the Escudo Rojo wines will go in the future? www.escudo-rojo.com
Tasting the Wines with the Food Courses
As I’ve already reviewed the wines, I did not go into detailed notes, but give a more general feel, and how they interacted with the food. The order of the wines was chosen by the chef, to match the order of the food courses. The Escudo Rojo wines carry a RRP of $29.95, and the second label Mapu wine has a RRP of 18.95. Here are my impressions, with provisional scores, not added to my database:
Escudo Rojo Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 with Duck Rillette
Dark, black-hued ruby-red, the nose is up-front, open and accessible with savoury blackcurrant aromas along with a touch of leafiness and green olive notes. The palate is up-front, plush and juicy with ripe blackcurrant fruit alongside some herb, leaf and olive notes. The mouthfeel is supple, with light, grainy tannins and soft, but fresh acidity. The wine finishes a little light. (17.5-/20)
The duck rillette flavours managed to hold their own with the Cabernet Sauvignon, which took a lesser role in the flavour. The food was rich, earthy and layered in flavours with good solid textures.
Escudo Rojo Chardonnay 2013 with Sous Vide Chicken with Spices and Mushroom
Bright straw-yellow with light golden hues. The bouquet is full and bold, showing green stonefruits and citrus fruits, This has savoury penetration and showing secondary development. The palate is well weighted, but the fruit expression is light. The fruit is in the cooler spectrum with some herbal and leafy detail, but the fruit is juicy and lush with sweetness, balanced by crisp, clear acidity. Despite the secondary flavours, this has energy. (16.5/20)
The wine and food interacted well, with the wine’s citrussy flavours enhanced. The wine’s acidity provided good cut. And the mushroom sauce matched the bottle development flavours. The spices on the chicken played very little part.
Escudo Rojo Carmenere 2013 with Beef Bourguignon
Very dark, black-red heart to the colour. This has a soft, fresh but concentrated and classically expressed bouquet of blackcurrants and blackcurrant leaf, with herbaceous stalk elements. I tend to allow a little discretion in seeing the cooler characters, which are inherent in the variety. This is elegantly proportioned on the nose. On palate still quite tightly bound with a firm concentrated core. There is intensity, and the extraction is fine-grained, with balanced acidity. This has richness and a little oak showing too. (17.5+/20)
Beef cheek on a baguette slice. The beef richness and textures held up strongly to the wine, but a little of the Carmenere herbaceousness cut through the beef flavours. This added a freshness to the match.
Mapu Merlot 2015 with Gouda, Peach, Pear, Tomato salsa and Walnut
Full, dark, deep ruby-red colour with black hues, youthful. This nose is full, soft and upfront with redcurrant and slightly leafy, herbaceous notes. On palate, bright and vibrant, with juicy curranty and leafy fruit along with fresh herbal elements. The acidity is racy and enlivens the mouthfeel. The extraction is light, lending a supple grip. The fruit fades somewhat on finish, leaving briskmess and greener notes. A cooler and racy style of Merlot, a tad on the greener side. (16.0/20)
As with most wine matches with multiple cheese components, a variation of flavour interactions. Good wine softening with the cheese, and the salsa blending in. The pear quite neutral whereas the peach and walnut emphasised the coolness of the wine.
Escudo Rojo Syrah 2014 with Dark Chocolate and Chilli Cake
Dark, deep, black-hued red colour with slight garnet hues. This has a fresh nose with rich fruit aromas of black berried fruits along with black pepper, some spice notes and a touch of leafiness. The fruit richness is a feature on the palate too, vibrant, black and raspberry fruited, with black pepper and spices. Some dark-red and violet florals with herb elements too. Light supple tannin extraction provides moderate structure, and fresh acidity endows vitality. Good aromatic elements. (18.0-/20)
The Chocolate cake had too much chilli, and it was best to taste the wine first. The side of cream did little to alleviate the heat. Neil Hodgson suggested ice cream would bring down the heat. The waiter overhead that PX Sherry over ice cream was a combination, and this was served!
The wines appeared very much as I had reviewed them last year. They are good quality Chilean wines first and foremost. They tend to be a little more fleshy and rich than the majority of other Chilean wines in the same category.
However, the reds do carry a suggestion of coolness. Is this clonal, site or vintage? The cooler character of many earlier Chilean reds was attributed to lesser clones and virus. These factors should have been avoided in these modern times…
The interaction of the wines with food was generally positive. Clearly the chef gave good thought to the matches, and there were no real clashes, but some pleasing mixes, where the wine or food was enhanced.
And it is always good to share wines with good company. Thank you Greg and Amanda!