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September 12, 2021

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Rooted in good quality wines

A whole host of healthy edible gems come from the earth including carrots and radishes as introduced by our talented writers in today’s paper. These root veggies have long been a part of mankind’s diet, initially harvested from wild plants by hunters and gatherers.

The carrot was mostly likely first domesticated in the Near East about six or seven thousand years ago. Over thousands of years, traders traveling through the region spread carrot seeds along the trade routes of Arabia, Africa, and Asia. Early domesticated carrots came in an assortment of colors including purple, white, black and red but curiously not orange.

In the 16th century Dutch agronomists cross-bred yellow and red carrots to produce a carrot color reflecting their House of Orange. The modern orange carrot was born and as we say, the rest is history.

The origin of the radish is rather more obscure. The earliest written records of the plant suggest northern China as the birthplace for radish cultivation but the greatest diversity of radish varieties are found in the eastern Mediterranean and near the Caspian Sea point to a different area of origin. We do know that the Greeks, Egyptians and Chinese have been savoring this root vegetable for over 5,000 years.

When I think of vegetables and wines and in particular about root vegetables, one noble variety comes to mind. Sauvignon Blanc originated in the Gironde area of southwest France in the 17th century and is possibly a descendant of the more ancient variety Savagnin.

The grape has gained renown for making some of the world’s best white wines in the Loire Valley where it’s a single variety wines and in Bordeaux where the grape is most often blended with Semilion.

The New World boasts several regions that produce notable Sauvignon Blanc wines with some of the affable and affordable coming from South America.

Sometime in the late 17th and early 18th centuries Catholic missionaries brought the first Sauvignon Blanc vines to Chile. The earliest plantings of the variety were interspersed with the less distinguished variety Sauvignon Vert that’s sometimes referred to as Sauvignonasse. Over the years, winemakers lost track of which vines where the noble Sauvignon Blanc and which were the more pedestrian Sauvignon Vert. The result was centuries of confusion and white wines of compromised quality. Finally, in the early 1990s scientists specializing in the genus of the grapes developed technologies to distinguish and segregate the two varieties and a new age of quality Chilean Sauvignon Blanc wines was born.

Featuring a long coastline bordered by the Andes Mountains that boast altitude and wind-aided cooling elements along with a range of porous soils. When choosing a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc, three factors can help you pick a good wine. First, check that the wine is from one of Chile’s cool climate regions like Casablanca, San Antonio Valley, Coastal Aconcagua, Colchagua Valley or Northern Limari.

The best Chilean Sauvignon Blanc wines are all from the aforementioned cool climates where the combination of altitude and ample breezes helps make wines of admirable intensity and freshness. While not as outwardly exuberant as their counterparts in New Zealand, Chilean Sauvignon Blanc wines often share some of the elegant and balanced characteristics of French Sauvignon Blanc wines while still retaining plenty of New World muscle.

The majority of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc wines have no oak, or moderate oak aging, and exhibit a range of zesty lime, grapefruit, passion fruit, pineapple and apple flavors along with mineral and grassy notes and a bracingly dry and respectably long finish.

When possible it’s a good practice to pick a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc reserve level wine. Some entry level Sauvignon Blanc wines are exceptional values costing well under 100 yuan (US$15.5) and offering an eminently drinkable experience. However, less distinguished barely drinkable Chilean Sauvignon Blanc wines also exist and consumers often have trouble distinguishing the good from the bad. A simple way to increase your chances of getting a good wine is to choose a reserve level Sauvignon Blanc.

Lower-yield reserve, or reserva in Spanish, level wines are made using more discerning winemaking techniques and therefore tend to have greater intensity, complexity and freshness. Unlike higher level wines from other countries, Chilean reserve wines are usually only moderately more expensive than the entry level wines.

Finally, choose a quality producer known for their dedication to the varietal. There are still plenty of producers who make excellent reds and Chardonnays but treat their Sauvignon Blanc wines as an afterthought. Some of the best Chilean Sauvignon Blanc producers with wines available in Shanghai are Caliterra, Casa Amada, Errazuriz, Ventisquero, Casa Lapostolle and Vina Chocalan.

In particular, I recommend the Caliterra Casablanca Sauvignon Blanc Reserva that offers lively citrus and topical fruit flavors with mouth puckering freshness the Casa Amada Colchacua Valley Sauvignon Blanc Reserva wine that features zesty yellow fruit and gooseberry flavors with a long palate pleasing finish. The price-quality ratio of these whites makes them among the best value wines available in China.

To optimize your Chilean Sauvignon drinking experience buy recent vintages and serve well chilled or about 6-8 degrees Celsius.


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