Wednesday night is winemaker's night at The Vines of Mendoza in Argentina. For less than $7, the two hour interactive presentation showcases a particular winery, which in last night's case was Kaiken. The winemaker and head of exporting for the winery both presented information about the winery and the specific wines it produces, while we tasted Kaiken wines and snacked on cheese and bread in a lovely courtyard patio. The head of exporting expressed the sentiment that they look forward to opening new markets to carry Kaiken wines, because to him wine is all about enjoying life and sharing a bottle with people you care about...an experience Kaiken wants to be a part of.
About Kaiken winery
The namesake of the winery is a goose, native to Patagonia, that flies over the Andes from Chile to Argentina. Kaiken's parent winery is Montes from Chile, which saw great potential in making fantastic wines in Argentina, and, like the Kaiken, crossed over the Andes to establish Kaiken in the Mendoza region. Rather than starting with a big investment, the winery started small and organically, buying grapes from local growers and making wine in rented space. Next year the winery hopes to produce 90,000 cases per year.
We started out with the 2006 Reserve Malbec and 2005 Reserve Cabernet. Both were great, but I preferred the Cabernet, perhaps because my palette was warmed up and ready to taste it. Both wines were very smooth while carrying a big taste. Both were fermented in American oak barrels, which impart more vanilla and chocolate flavors on the wine.
A step up in price and taste, the next wines were a 2005 Cabernet Ultra and a 2006 Malbec Ultra. These wines were aged in French oak and the grapes were from 50-year-old vines. Even more soft than the Reserves, both wines were incredible: complex and wonderfully balanced.
A few fun facts:
A wine has to contain at least 85% of a certain grape to be considered that varietal. If it contains less than 85%, it would be considered a blend.
The best time to taste grapes is in the morning since your palette is the most clear in the morning. Sign me up!