On the other hand, if you choose to host your own Mad Hatter tea party, F&W has assembled our favorite tea-party recipes, from delicate radish-lemon-butter sandwiches to ginger brandy snaps.
Liz Caskey of the Santiago-based tour company Liz Caskey Culinary & Wine Experiences —who just launched an insidery food and wine e-travel guide, Eat Wine Santiago —sent me an update earlier this week on the effects of the 8.8 magnitude earthquake that devastated parts of Chile on Saturday. Wineries in key regions like Colchagua Valley and Maule are scrambling to rebuild damaged facilities and equipment right before harvest. Miguel Torres estimates that his winery lost thousands of bottles and 100,000 liters of wine from a single cracked vat.
Caskey is doing her part to help by donating a portion of the profits from Eat Wine Santiago toward reconstruction efforts. She's also urging people to buy Chilean. I'm planning to host a Support Chile dinner party and wine tasting with dishes like these and these and wines like these. And I'm swapping out my Sicilian olive oil for this great new Chilean brand.
As everyone knows, Chile was recently struck by an immensely powerful earthquake. Among other devastation, the country's wine industry was hard hit, with some wineries nearly leveled, and many others reporting massive losses of wine and equipment, as well as damage to buildings.
Various people in the wine world have been chronicling the results—there are some vivid images on Jancis Robinson's site here—but it seemed also worthwhile simply to ask people to help support everyone down there by going out and purchasing a bottle or two of Chilean wine. To that end, here are a few good ones I've tasted recently:
2008 Maycas de Limari Chardonnay ($23) This new project from Concha y Toro is located in the Limari Valley, about as far north as you can go in Chile and still produce wine (and probably one of the areas least affected by the quake). Befitting its cooler-climate origins, this is crisp and zesty, with a distinct citrus-lemon character—it would be a great wine for wild salmon, for instance this recipe from Restaurant Eve's Cathal Armstrong.
2008 Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Carmenère ($11) There's a lot of spicy depth to this red, especially given the moderate price, and to my mind it has a bit more personality than the Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon from the same range. Concha y Toro, I've been told, effectively lost three of the eleven winemaking facilities they own (the company is vast); nevertheless, they still plan to start harvest next Monday, bringing in white grapes from their vineyards in Casablanca.
2007 Chono Reserva Syrah ($14) This is a small, artisanal producer whose winemaking is headed up by Alvaro Espinosa, one of Chile's top winemakers as well as the country's foremost proponent of biodynamic viticulture. Dark, sleek, and spicy, it's an impressive bottle for a modest price; also look for Chono's equally good Carmenère-Syrah blend, which unfortunately is made in much smaller quantities.
2008 Veramonte Ritual Pinot Noir ($18) California winemaker Paul Hobbs consults on this substantial, dark berry-fruited Pinot. Veramonte sources the fruit from the Casablanca Valley, a cool, breezy region close on the Pacific Ocean.
2009 Viñedos Emiliana Natura Gewurztraminer ($10) Made entirely with organically grown grapes—Alvaro Espinosa consults here as well—this is a dry, intensely spicy Gewurztraminer, showing a lot of the grape variety's floral/dried rose/jasmine character but without at all going over the top.
2009 Apaltagua Reserva Chardonnay ($13) Cool climate Casablanca Valley fruit defines this appealingly non-blowsy Chardonnay: it has a pleasant citrus peel and pineapple character, with lively acidity and not too much oak.
The matters at hand were Dom Pérignon's newest rosés, of which there are two. The first, the 2000 Dom Pérignon Rosé, is a 50/50 blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, but Geoffroy thinks the wine "makes a statement on Pinot Noir. The point is to go for the Pinot Noir-the holy grail of winemakers and consumers." The 2000 vintage is a delicate golden salmon color and has the power, tannic structure and strawberry and sweet cherry fruit of Pinot Noir, balanced by a roundness on the palate and minerality, thanks to the Chardonnay. It's a duality that Geoffroy calls "very Dom Pérignon." The price, a cool $350, is also very Dom Pérignon.
The second wine we tasted was extraordinarily exciting, but, unfortunately, you won't ever be able to get it. Let me repeat: you won't ever find this wine. There will only be 350 bottles of it in the U.S. That said, the 1990 Dom Pérignon Œnothèque Rosé (the very first Œnothèque Rosé ever released in this country) is just dazzling. Œnothèque bottlings are late releases of particularly great vintages, and 1990 is especially important to Geoffroy because it was his first vintage at Dom Pérignon. The copper-toned wine is at once mellow but intense; creamy with spectacular acidity; and has remarkable longevity on the palate. "What I'm after is the lasting sensation of something," says Geoffroy. "I want the finish to be a seamless, gliding, holding note." I'd say he hit his mark.