You get a Rothschild’s commitment to excellence at a commoner’s price with the 2010 Los Vascos Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay wines.
Most wine consumers think Chile is new to the wine world, but its wine history dates to the 16th-century. Los Vascos’ history can be traced to the Echenique family, who planted vineyards in the Colchagua Valley around 1750.
In 1988, Les Domaines Barons de Rothschild, the umbrella group of wineries owned by Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, purchased Los Vascos, from the Eyzaguirre-Echenique family.
Gilbert Rokvam, the technical director at Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, was sent to Los Vascos to oversee the restructuring of the winery and begin a replanting program for the 525-acre vineyard.
Today, Los Vascos is guided by Chilean winemaker Marcelo Gallardo. He made the Los Vascos 2010 sauvignon blanc from purchased grapes of Casablanca, Colchagua and Leyda valley vineyards.
Over the years, I’ve liked the white wines made from Leyda grapes as this cool climate area brings an extra dimension of acidity and citrus character. Gallardo captures this quality with a delightful grapefruit aroma in the sauvignon blanc. The wine was fermented at a low temperature in stainless-steel tanks and without oak aging, which preserves the bright, crisp fresh fruit flavor.
The 2010 Los Vascos Chardonnay is made only from Los Vascos estate grapes and follows the winery formula of cool fermentation in stainless-steel tanks without any oak barrel aging or malolactic fermentation for its white wines.
The latter technique changes the grapes natural malic acid (think green apple) to lactic acid (think milk) which gives many white wines a butter popcorn taste.
Both wines had a slightly sweet finish from the small percentage of residual sugar that comes from not fermenting the wines completely dry. While I would have preferred them without any residual sugar, Los Vascos’ wines thankfully avoid the oak-infused vanilla scent, candied taste and high alcohol style that plague many Chilean white wines.
I tasted the wines at Tocqueville, an understated elegant restaurant in Manhattan.
The 2010 Los Vascos Sauvignon Blanc was perfect with a yellowfin tuna tartare and sashimi with green apple, crystallized English mustard and basil. The raw tuna and green apple accentuated the citrus character of the wine, giving a wonderful freshness to the palate. The 2010 Los Vascos Chardonnay was delightful with sautéed Maine lobster.
You can reproduce Tocqueville’s pairings- good luck crystallizing that English mustard- or enjoy both wines with Cantonese dishes such as prawns with oyster sauce, crispy skin chicken or Chinese barbecued pork.
Both wines retail for approximately $12.