What is the best way to expand your culinary experiences? If you can’t travel to another country, the next best way is to search for foods from the same region as the wine!
At least that’s what Sue and I have learned in the past few years: what grows together goes together.
Whether it is South African cuisine to pair with South African wine (here) or Portuguese wine with Portuguese food (here and more recently here) or any of the number of articles I’ve written in the past about Italian and French wine and food pairings, I’ve found this is a really fun way to learn about a region — by learning about the food and creating a menu to pair with wine.
For these organic Odfjell wines from Chile, Sue suggested she make a traditional dish: Pastel de Choclo.
I wondered about a corn pastry for a dinner with three red wines but figured I’d better just trust her. After over five years of pairing foods and writing together several times a month, she has a really good idea of what I like and don’t, and what will work and what won’t.
Turns out, Pastel de Choclo has nothing to do with chocolate or pastry, and a lot more in common with Shepherd’s Pie. Somehow I’d missed that part, possibly because I was excited about a chocolate pastry…
Since today is March 14 aka 3.14 aka Pi Day, I figured this was perfect timing to share with you our thoughts about these three organic red wines from Odfjell paired with this Chilean take on Shepherd’s Pie.
Even better than the Pi Day and Shepherd’s Pie connection: the Odfjells are committed to organic and biodynamic practices, an important theme here on Wine Predator for 2019 and beyond. In fact, this April I’m leading the Wine Pairing weekend group of wine writers into wine and food pairings of biodynamic wines of the world (join us! here’s the invitation post!). I’ve already hosted the Italian group of writers in March to investigate viticulture and the French writing group to do biodynamic and organic wines in January.
Organic for over 20 years, in 2009, the Odfjells began farming using biodynamic practices in their southern vineyards. Three years later, in 2012, Demeter recognized and certified their vineyards as 100% biodynamic. While the organic logo is on the back label, and made with organic grapes is proclaimed on the front and back labels, the fine print reads biodynamic practices and the Demeter logo is only found at this time on their website. Read more about their sustainability here.
Quick note on the beautiful labels which LOVE so much so I am reluctant to recycle the bottles! The labels reflect Earth, Water, and Fire, important elements at Odfjell Vineyards; they created the design with the DAf team and it has recently won a silver medal in the Packaging category in the 2018 Latin American Design Awards.
In addition to the label artwork featuring abstractions of the elements, labels have a horse insignia. These are Norwegian Fjord horses; the ancestors of these horses migrated from Central Asia to what is now Norway. Traces of the prehistoric horse remain including a black stripe down the middle of the white mane.
While a striking image on the label and in the vineyards, the horses serve an important purpose in the vineyards: they control weeds, assist with soil drainage, and transport grapes during harvest without compacting soils.
2017 – Odfjell – Orzada – Carignan Maule Valley – 15.0% alcohol – SRP $23
This wine is made from some of the oldest in Chile: 20-80 year old dry-farmed Carignan vines in Cauquenes.
The name represents Odjfell’s a passion for innovation and discovery — the word word “Orzada” means “to sail into the wind.” The label was inspired by the movement of water and its energy.
Color: Rich royal ruby red, like the velvet curtains at the theatre, bright, ruby sapphire,
Nose: Cherry, pomegranate, rich loamy earth, cigar box, mostly the fruit though, carnation, cinnamon spice of the carnation
Palate: Silky smooth, rolls across the tongue, nice bright fresh ripe red stone fruit, plum, cherry, mineral finish, light tannins.
Pairing: Fruity enough to go with a salad that has a balsamic vinegar dressing. It liked the sweetness of the balsamic. There were so many layers of flavor with the complex Choclo, it brought out nice fruit and peppery qualities of the wine, leaving you wanting to take another bite of food and then again more wine.
2016 – Odfjell – Armador – Cabernet Sauvignon – 13.5% alcohol – SRP$15
An Amador is a ship owner, and the Odjfells were sea faring folk before they settled in Chile to make wine. The winery says that “In the bygone days of sailing ships, wine was the drink of choice on long voyages. Today Dan Odfjell, a Norwegian shipowner, perpetuates his legacy by making wines to sail from Chile across the seven seas.” The image on the label is inspired by the soil’s natural energy, which is key in the practice of biodynamics.
Color: Deep rich red with a raspberry ring
Nose: Herbs, and fruit, there is a little bit of funk a little bit of barnyard, horse leather, cherry, menthol, eucptyluptus, after the wine is on the palate and you go back to taste it there is a jalapeño jelly quality.
Palate: Green herbal bell pepper. Sue makes a pomegranate jalapeño jelly, and this reminded her of that jam on the palate. Grassiness, super smooth
Pairing: The herbal, jalapeño qualities in this wine brought out even different characteristics in the choclo. It brings out different spices,
In a dance the person in the lead sets off the dancer; the wine sets off the frame for the dancer which is the choclo.
The wine also worked well with the salad bringing out a nice crisp peppery quality in the lettuce. The choclo emphasized the flavors in the wine. If you like this wine, this meal really makes the wine pop.
We can’t believe that this wine is only $15.
2013 – Odfjell – Aliara –
65% carignan, 20% syrah, 15% malbec – 14.5% alcohol – SRP $44
Label is inspired by a nebula fire of creation
Aliara means a small tin cup used for alcohol rations at sea in the days of the sail ships.
This is their wine that breaks the rules that uses innovative techniques and blends to elevate wine making to an art form.
And they are successful: this wine won a gold medal in the Cata’dor Wine Awards, the most important international wine contest in the Americas which has been held since 1995 in Chile. A jury of 45 specialists from Chile, Canada, the United States and Brazil. Argentina, Uruguay, United Kingdom, China, Spain, France and Japan among other countries taste and select the winning wines. www.catador.cl/home-eng.html
They say: Our Aliara 2013 is a unique blend of Carignan, Syrah and Malbec. The nose is intense with a range of aromas including dry fruits, floral notes and hints of chocolate. The palate is intense with notes of chocolate, coffee and tobacco leaves. The finish is long with ripe and velvety tannins.
Color: Dense, maroon, maybe garnet rose mauve ring
Nose: Fascinating minty sensation, coastal chaparral, cherry pipe tobacco, pine resin
Palate: Mouthwatering good. It comes across as alive and vibrant with stone fruit and a coolness as it rolls across the tongue. Maybe the texture comes from the minerality or acidity? There is the feeling that the mint is there.
Pairing: The fatty avocado in the salad gave such a wonderful creamy umami, the lemon oil then elevated the positive experience. Once again, the flavors of the choclo so complimented the complexities of the wine. The choclo was also complex enough to stand up to the complexities of this wine.
There was a back and forth tango between the wine and the food that was sure bliss to experience.
A 2013, this is an older more rounded wine than the others.
All three of these Odfjell wines if they were produced in North America and had the Napa or California name would be at least one third more in price. These are such wonderful accessible ALIVE wines.