2003 Gentoo Reserve
Chile: Maipo Valley
What We Say
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Mission Codename: The Penguine King
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Go undercover and attend the first-ever winetasting on Antarctica, drink wine with penguines and score some great Chilean wine for our Operatives
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Pengwine
Wine Subject: 2003
Winemakers: Chris Millikan and Max Eyzaguirre
When The Wine Spies learned that Chilean-American wine producer Pengwine was holding a winetasting on Antarctica, Agent Red was dispatched immediately. Read his mission debrief below.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dark garnet red, to brunt orange at the edges with fat and slow-moving legs
Smell – Deeply ripe plum, chili verde, barnyard, coaco, sour cherry, cranberry, raspberry and tar
Feel – Slippery and cool at first, then grippy, dry and very slightly stringy
Taste – Concentrated fruit with big sweet & tart flavors plus subtle coffee, toasted vanilla and mild oak
Finish – Not as big as it drinks. Dry, sweet flavors and medium tannins fall off at a medium pace
Conclusion – Passionate wine producers usually produce passionate wines. Pengwine is no exception to this notion. Their Gentoo exhibits unique character with bold flavors and and a drinkability that won’t alienate most wine drinkers. If you are looking for something different or want to expand your palate, this is a great wine. With enough acidity to make the wine food friendly, this is also a wine that could be enjoyed on its own. For food-pairing, we recommend that you try this wine with a great steak, cheese fondue or a BBQ pork tenderloin!
Guest Sommelier Agent K contributes her thoughts on this wine:
“Overripe berries mixed with tar drive the nose on this wine. The palate showcases strong raspberry and cranberry with plum. A complex wine with strong features.”
US/Chilean Pengwine Wines was conducting a winetasting at the bottom of the world, and I tagged along. It turned out to be an adventure.
Posing as a wine writer for a prestigious wine magazine, I was able to secure my cargo plane seat on this first-ever Antarctic wine event.
As I sat in the plane, I watched out the window as the airport workers clumsily loaded luggage and wine crates onto the planes loading ramp. After I saw my own luggage spill off the cart and onto the tarmac, I had visions of the wine crates suffering the same fate. Shortly thereafter, they did. Spilled wine made dark circles on the black pavement.
I dashed out of the plane with the winemaker and ran to save the wine. Many of the bottles were broken, but we managed to repack the remaining wine and load it safely onto the plane. After the winemaker conducted a few harried-sounding calls, he decided that he had enough wine for the expedition and that the trip was still on.
Two bumpy flights and a refueling stop later, we were out over some of the clearest water I had ever seen. The day was crystal clear and I could feel the excitement of the expedition members mounting.
The landing was flawless and the wine survived the trip intact.
We were greeted by airfield personnel (a single person) who accompanied us on our quest to find the natives. With wine bottles secured inside of parkas, we simply picked a direction and started walking. A short while later, a few dozen natives in sight, we stopped, opened bottles, poured and raised our glasses in a salute – to the penguins… Those on the glacier and those on the labels!
To learn more about this expedition, book a National Geographic cruise through the Antarctic – where Pengwine is an official selection aboard the ship.
Wine Spies Spy Photo:
The bottom of the world, where this winetasting actually, honestly, truly, really did take place, can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Special Note: Your purchase today does good for the Children of Chile! The Wine Spies and Pengwine will donate $1 for each bottle sold today to our favorite cause, VEglobal, whose mission is:
VE organizes a global network of volunteers of diverse backgrounds and nationalities in a universal effort to achieve our dream in Chile and bridge the social rifts that perpetuate poverty and child abuse.
… Have a PengWine Affair …
Enjoy our fun short film about a happy couple dealing with the influence of a Great wine from Chile.
Stay tuned for part II.
Safe travels to all throughout your wine journey!
Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz Blend
Fans of shiraz, syrah, even petite syrah will drool over our Gentoo, a dry, medium-bodied red filled with flavors of young blackberries, caramel, some vanilla and light spice. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (60%) and Shiraz (40%) this wine developed gracefully in barrels that rested in our cellar for over a year, giving it a toasted finish. The Cabernet smooths, while the Shiraz grips your taste buds and pulls you into this bold red. Get your hands on some before it is gone.
Our Gentoo Reserve, an elegant blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz exemplifies the full fruit and spice characteristic of the Maipo appellation in Chile’s Central Valley. We aimed to create a wine that would resonate with a wide market of red wine lovers and capture the qualities unique to Chile.
The 2003 season started off cool with steadily increasing temperatures—ideal conditions favored healthy grapes. Fortunately April was rain-free and the Shiraz grapes were the first to mature and be hand-picked. We waited patiently for the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes to mature and picked them two weeks later in still dry conditions. We saw excellent color and classic Maipo Valley fruit flavors this year. All harvesting was done by hand and only whole, ripe, loose bunches were selected.
Like other PengWine blends, our Gentoo Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz grapes were de-stemmed, crushed and moved to steel tanks for fermentation with the skins. Each batch fermented separately in tanks for approximately eight days obtaining an average temperature of 29ºC for the Shiraz and slightly higher, 31ºC for the Cabernet. Maceration with the skins continued for two weeks. The must was then passed through a pneumatic press, but only the free flow juice was used.
This resulting Cabernet wine was aged in 300 liter barrels with French oak staves for 12 months to increase the complexity, giving it the vanilla and toast influence. We aimed not to impart too much oak onto the wine while preserving the rich flavors of the Cabernet while providing complexity.
The Shiraz was stored in stainless steel tanks to preserve the natural aromas and flavor typical of the variety. From there we slowly blended Cabernet Sauvignon into the Shiraz resulting in this 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Shiraz blend.
The 2003 Gentoo exhibits aromas of young blackberries, a hint of vanilla and maple syrup. The luscious fruit repeats On the palate with vanilla, a touch of coffee and light toast. It’s a smooth, medium-bodied wine complemented with a soft oak finish.
Food Pairing Notes
This is a great cocktail wine, but will handle a steak with great pleasure. Try it with BBQ pork tenderloin or a cheese fondue. Gentoo is good drinking—down to the last glass.