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Changing Seasons, Changing Wines

Come chill with us as the seasons change and explore some exceptional South American wines, plus a few other new releases, sampled during tasting events.

Sena Wines
Seña, a Bordeaux style wine made in Chile, is the result of a revolutionary collaboration between world famous wine icons Eduardo Chadwick and Robert Mondavi, that began in 1995. A few years later, the two founders boldly organized The Berlin Tasting, a blind tasting inspired by The Judgement of Paris, with some of the world’s top wine critics tasting Seña alongside some of the world´s most famous—and iconic–Grand Crus of Bordeaux and Super Tuscans. Seña came out as the winner! In 2017, wine critic James Suckling awarded a 100 score to the Seña 2015 vintage and again for its 2018 and current 2021 vintages. 

Sena winemakers
Eduardo Chadwick and Robert Mondavi.  

I was invited to taste these Seña wines, along with the releases from 1998, 2002, 2009, 2015, 2017, 2020, each one a stunning example of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Carmenere, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec grapes, blended into exceptional wines that rival the classic vinifications from France. Seña, the name means “sign”, uses biodynamic farming principles in the Aconcagua Valley. The grapes are grown 40 km from the Pacific Ocean and, protected by the coastal mountains, this area seems to be a perfect combination of climate, altitude and temperature (and free from insect infestation which can ruin vines), resulting in vibrant wines of high aromatic complexity, refreshing acidity and fine tannins.    
On the subject of Bordeaux wines, Los Vascos in Chile’s Valle de Colchagua was founded in 1988 by the world famous Lafite family. Under the watchful eyes of Domaine Barons de Rothschild Lafite holdings, Los Vascos has become one of Chile’s largest vineyards. Philippe Rolet, its general manager and winemaker, is passionately devoted to protecting the unique terroir of wines, with the help of an ideal microclimate offering plenty of sun, water and semi-arid soil, no frost, diverse flora, forests. In 2022, Los Vascos released its first organic wine, Los Vascos Chagual, and is targeting 2030 for 100% organic certification for all its plantings and production. 

Luigi Bosca winery
Luigi Bosca winery.  

In neighboring Argentina, Luigi Bosca established itself in Mendoza (80% of Argentina’s wine is grown and produced in Mendoza) as a leading, and large, wine producing company owned by four generations of the Arizu family. Ironically, their base of operations is a gigantic French-inspired chateau in the middle of hundreds of acres of vineyards. Sitting down with Alberto Arizu, the CEO, we learned all about the traditions of the wine making family and its ongoing commitment to sustainable and organic farming methods, plus their establishment of DOC designation of Mendoza. Most of their wines (we tasted Los Nobles 2020 and Paraiso 2020—pandemic era wines!) are manually harvested and fall under the Malbec variety with deep violet red color, intense and expressive aromas of red and black fruits, sweet spices, jam, and subtle smokey undertones. Long finishes and soft tannins give these wines a very sophisticated tasting experience. 

Bodega Argento wines Patagonia
Bodega Otronia.  

Way down in Patagonia, where howling winds and brutal freezing temperatures would seem to deter any wine growing activity, there is Bodega Otronia, the most southern of any wine growing region—and the coldest–at Parallel 45. Surprise! The Gualtallary Chardonnay is one of the most luscious I’ve ever sampled, fresh with a long finish, but not flabby, with notes of citrus and wild thyme. The Altamira Malbec was a deep purple with notes of dark cherry and violet, with some spices, and juicy to the finish! 
Back in the US, Napa Valley’s Palmaz Vineyards, owned by Argentinian Julio Palmaz, offers several wine subscription packages and club membership levels to its Brasas Club events, at its spectacular gravity-flow winery, with a dramatic 18-story cave carved into the rock at the base of Mount George. 
The influence of South American wine and its wine culture can be experienced around the world and these are a few of the winemakers whose fairtrade policies and sustainability programs are helping to reshape the wine world one sip at a time. So, start stocking up!
Isabelle KelloggIn addition to a career in communications and marketing focused on the luxury lifestyle sector, including co-authoring and lecturing a case study on French heritage jeweler Mauboussin with Harvard Business School, Isabelle continues to share her experiences about fine art, wine, travel, jewelry and culture as a freelance writer for internationally based digital publications.