2003 Humboldt Reserve
Chile: Maipo Valley
What We Say
If you are visiting us for the first time, Welcome! The Wine Spies feature one exceptional wine each day – and we only bring you wines that we ourselves seek out and love. Always, the wines are great. Sometimes really great, as is the case with today’s wine from Pengwine Winery.
Enjoy this fun short film from PengWine, about a happy couple dealing with the influence of a Great wine from Chile.
Stay tuned for part II.
Mission Codename: The Penguin Queen
Operative: Agent Sparkle
Objective: Locate a non-bubbly wine that pleases Agent Sparkle
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Pengwine
Wine Subject: 2003 Humboldt Cabernet Sauvignon
Winemaker: Chris Millikan and Max Eyzaguirre
Backgrounder: Agent Sparkle, Wine Spies’ resident sparkling wine expert, prefers bubbly – but also loves a great red wine. Even though we feature only the best wines that we can sleuth, Agent Sparkle is notoriously hard to please . For today’s mission Central Command sends Agent Sparkle to the Maipo Valley in Chile to taste a wine a wine rumored to please even the most picky red wine drinkers.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Black cherry juice garnet, clear with a deepening dark center and fat , slow legs
Smell – Very aromatic and sweet on the nose with a giant hit of red currant, cherry, raspberry, violets and a hint of chocolate
Feel – Initially cool and wet, round and flowey, then the medium tannins appear and grip the top of the tongue and the roof of the mouth
Taste – Raspberry, red currant and blackberry with a hint of nutty cocoa powder
Finish – Long and fruity with a medium dryness and tapers off to leave traces of minerals and subtle cocoa powder
Conclusion – I hereby declare that this is my favorite Red wine of the year! While I am usually a bubbly girl (sparkling wines are my specialty), I really do appreciate great red wines. I have been searching for a great ‘go-to’ wine all year and am so pleased to have found it in this wonderfully rich and lusciously layered Cab from Pengwine. When we first featured this winery about one month ago, I was not overtaken by that wine. In my not-so-humble opinion, this offering is far better. This wine is so full of character – and is so wonderfully balanced with aromatics and flavors – that I am officially smitten. Way to sway a girls favor, Pengwine!
Thank goodness – or, in this case thank Wine Spies Central Command – for sending me on this special mission to Chile. The weather here is in the mid-eighties and the humidity is perfect. So, too, is today’s Cabernet Sauvignon.
Okay, for me, Winter is bubbly season. A great sparkling wine or a French Champagne has the power to lift my spirits – at a time of year when the weather usually gets me down.
While I have been reveling in my recently reviewed refreshments, they have all been of the effervescent variety – and I found myself craving something Red and racy. Looking through my personal cache, I found myself hard pressed to find a real standout, and I realized that I needed to find myself a standby staple red. After voicing my conundrum to my fellow spies, I was quickly dispatched to the beautiful Maipo Valley in Chile.
Reluctant at first, to spend valuable party time away from home, I was intrigued at the promise that my covert colleagues had found my the wine for me. At first I was shocked at their presumptuousness, but decided to give them the benefit of the doubt. Besides, even if the wine did not live up to the hype, I still got a trip to Chile out of the deal.
Long mission report short: Agent Red and the boys were right! This beautiful Cabernet Sauvignon is perfect, and our friends at Pengwine have managed to create a wine that I absolutely LOVE. This is not a subtle wine, nor is it completely over the top as some Chilean wines I have tried tended to be. Here I find refinement and great fun, in a wine that delivers powerful aromatics and layers of flavor.
This wine gets my personal endorsement as the best red wine of 2007!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The lush farms, orchards and vineyards of the beautiful Maipo Valley can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
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Awards and Accolades:
“Good Buy” by Wine Enthusiast Magazine, November 2005
This outstanding wine has a beautiful purple appearance with ruby edges that show some evolution. Each bottle has wonderful layers of aromas including baked apples, toasted hazelnuts, cherries and subtle violets. On the palate the wine exhibits a balanced acidity with round tannins and good fruit character. It explodes with creamy hazelnut, chocolate and raspberries flavors. The wine is velvety on the palate with a full body that allows it to carry the alcohol without it being hot in the finish.
Food Pairing Notes:
As a classy bird, the Humboldt Reserve is a good match for a juicy sirloin steak or seasoned salmon hot off the grill.
About This Wine:
The five varietals (Cabernet Sauvignon (75%), Merlot (10%), Cabernet Franc (6%), Petite Verdot (5%), Malbec (4%)) that go into this wine were carefully chosen for the individual characteristics that each could contribute to the final blend. The base, Cabernet Sauvignon, was chosen for its big body,and overall great flavor, the Merlot for its silkiness. The Cabernet Franc was added for its lighter tannins and earlier maturity. Malbec adds earthiness and deep color. Petit Verdot brings structure to the blend. The final product was designed to be enjoyed now and will improve for the next five years.
The weather was generous with us in 2003 during the whole growing season. In January we green harvested to reduce yields and help the vines concentrate on just two bunches. The harvest began in late March for the earlier ripening Merlot and ended with the last to ripen Cabernet Sauvignon. All harvesting was done by hand and only whole, ripe bunches were selected.
Each of the five free flow juices were placed in individual steel tanks with the skins and fermented at an average temperature of 29ºC. Fermentation averaged three weeks among all varieties, a bit longer than usual due to the high sugar levels achieved during the warm growing season. Eighty-five percent of all the musts were aged in small oak barrels (75% French, 25% American, both medium toast) for 9 to 12 months (longer for the Cabernet and less for the other varieties). Fifty percent of the barrels were new, first use and 50% were second use.
Detailed Wine Information:
Appellation: Chiles Valley
Sub-Appellation: Central Valley, Chile
Harvest Date: March 2003
Special Designation: Maipo Valley
Tasting Notes: Blend = Cabernet Sauvignon 75%, Merlot 10%, Cab Franc 6%, Petit Verdot 5%, Malbec 4%
Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon Blend