So I get to do some pretty cool shit, like this last week: Wines of Chile hosted a Wine Bar War featuring four sommeliers from around NYC. Basically, it was a battle of pop-ups, but in this case, the medium wasn’t food but wine.
“Alright,” you may be saying to yourself. “I can dig that.” Damn straight: there was a ton of talent in that room.
Working with Hector Vergara, South America’s only Master Sommelier, each of the somms took to their corners and built out their wine bar concept that would best evoke Chile’s diversity. Did I mention they started at 9 am? By the time dusk fell, the event (hosted at Villain in Williamsburg) drew a fun weekday crowd of wine lovers, industry pros, writer-types (like me!) and the like. The prize was a trip to Chile for the winning team of somms (score!).
As you’d expect, the wine flowed quite easily.
While a few bottles piqued my interest, only one bottle really stood out at Earth’s End, the pop-up created by Momofuku Ssam Bar’s Anna-Lisa Campos. The bottle: Louis-Antoine Luyt Carignan. Long story short, winemaker Louis-Antoine is a native-Frenchman who traveled to Chile in his youth, found wine, studied it back in France and took that training back to Chile to produce something incredibly unique in a country run by many large producers. A believer in terroir and the natural wine-making philosophy, he set out in 2009 to create the wines he loved. Fast-forward a few years and he’s now rockin’ three lines of vino you don’t often see coming from Chile.
His newest venture, an eponymous Carignan, attracted me first with its colorful label, but the glass was an all-out seduction offensive.
First sniff, swirl and sip: The 70-year-old vines threw off aromas akin to a big bowl of summer berry fruit with an underlying, tell-tale earthy funk. The palate was all ripe red juiciness, with more of that horse-y funk coming in like the goddamn flavor cavalry. To say I was “into it” would be an understatement. If this is how LAL makes all his wine, sign me up. Lest I forget, this wine rocks a $22 price tag. Delicious AND affordable? GTFO.
I didn’t stick around to see who won (papa’s got a bedtime, yo) but for real: This “wine bar war” thing needs to catch on. Can I get a witness?
For the full scoop on the Wine Bar War, like the kick-ass somms who brought their A-game that night, check out Wines of Chile’s site.