Artisan wine from Chile: Garage Wine Co
Chilean Wines in the United States
We get a nice variety of Chilean wines in Minnesota, from Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere to Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc from coastal vineyards. However, the large majority of wines are from major wineries, focused on commercial success and internationally styled wines. There’s nothing wrong with this approach, but I have always wondered if there are small, artisan producers, and would we ever see their wines here in Minnesota?
Derek Mossman and Garage Wine Co
My answer came this summer in the form of Derek Mossman and the Garage Wine Company. My friend Kristi who works for the Minnesota distributor for Garage Wine Company invited me to a tasting where Derek would be showing his wines. Only a few cases come to Minnesota, so this seemed like a rare opportunity to meet Derek and learn about the garagiste and small producer movement in Chile.
Derek, his wife Pilar Miranda, and Dr. Alvaro Peña are the principals behind Garage Wine Company. They produce 1500 cases of wine a year and they’re dedicated to the small and traditional, low intervention approach. No additions, no subtractions, only native yeasts in the winery. Aging is in 3rd to 5th use barrels and they even use recycled bottles, how cool is that?
Harvest with Garage Wine Company
The video below speaks volumes about Garage Wine Company and the ploughman farmers they support. The antithesis of manicured vineyards, this is backcountry winegrowing!
Derek was very willing to share their story and his ideals. Perhaps most impressive of all is their belief and support of the ploughman winegrowers in Chile. These are farmers who have small acreage of old vines, which in many cases have been a bit forgotten. Derek works with these farmers to realize the potential in out of the way, small vineyards in rural Chile.
Finding Garage Wine Company Wines in Minnesota
After meeting with Derek and trying his wines, I had a new challenge: finding his wines in a local retail shop! On retail shelves, very few Chilean wines sell above $20, so they are risky for a small shop. Two local shops rolled the dice: BrightWines in White Bear Lake, and Sunfish Cellars in Lilydale.
Garage Wine Company Carignan at Dinner
I thought the Garage Company Carignan would be big enough to pair with a braised lamb shank in beans recipe I had been wanting to try. Braising is usually a wintertime activity, but I also wanted to try doing it on my Primo Grill. Even though it was a warm summer day, this meal seemed perfect as the late summer sun was setting.
Recipe Notes for Braised Lamb Shanks in Beans
Now that we’re into more traditional braising weather, this will be a great time to try out the lamb shanks with a Garage Wine Company wine!
I made the lamb shanks in my Primo ceramic grill, which can be configured for low temperature smoking and convection cooking, but you shouldn’t think it’s the only way to make this dish. The original recipe was created for a dutch oven in a conventional kitchen. You’l find it here at: Braised lamb shanks in beans at original Kalofagas website. The recipe was adapted for use in a kamado ceramic grill and is available here: braised lamb shanks in Kamado Guru. Take your pick, I’m sure either one will be great!
The Garage Company wines are labeled by their lot number, starting from lot #1 with their very first wine. The website has lots of information available for each wine.
Garage Wine Company Lot 48 Portezuelo Vineyard D.O. Maule Valley Carignan, Field-blend ($30 locally at Brightwines and Sunfish Cellars)
Eye: Clear, medium ruby with a cool edge.
Nose: Clean, medium+ intensity, sweet ripe blackberries, shows a bit of oak but well integrated.
Mouth: Bone dry, medium acidity, medium+ tannins, medium+ body. Blackberries carry on in the flavor, this wine gives a definite old-world impression.