Chakana is the Andean name for the Southern Cross. Chakana winery, founded on the day the Southern Cross reached its perfectly vertical position in the night sky in Argentina – 2nd May 2002, is located in Mendoza and the high altitude vineyard which includes several blocks of 100 year old Malbec is in Lujan de Cuyo and Valle de Uco.The Chakana Range consists of young fruit driven wines aged briefly in oak.
Last week we tasted the top-end wines of Chakana with Sophie Jump.
“…no-one knows more than Sophie Jump about Argentine wine in the UK market…” – Jancis Robinson once said. After 8 years in the British Diplomatic Service, Sophie launched her own Strategic Sales and Marketing company – Jump Start. Today, she also runs her own wine events company, Planet Thirst and has a part-time role as CEO of the International Wine Clubs Association – a trade association of direct wine sales specialists.
We stood at the bar and drank chilled Torrents – the aromatic signature white of Argentina. It was once believed that the grape came to Argentina from Galicia with Spanish migrants. Most of the tasters liked the 2014 that was poured but I found the Mission and Muscat of Alexandria crossing too aromatic and low in acidity.
Sophie spoke briefly about Mendoza and Chakana and we sat at tables to drink Estate Chardonnay and Estate White Blend with a crab and smoked salmon roulade, a rocket and watercress salad with wasabi dressing and a ciabatta crisps. The Estate Selection is a limited production wine produced each year from the best grapes from the best vines of the vintage. The Chardonnay was light, had plenty of fruit and was only gently oaked. “It would partner chicken better” Sophie said. The White blend with 50% Chardonnay, 35% Viognier and 15% Sauvignon Blanc was delightful.
Sophie walked from table to table, chatting and and pouring wine.
Ayni Malbec, Estate Selection Blend and Estate Selection Malbec were poured with a duo of beef – a slow cooked feather blade and slices of tender ox cheek with bourguignon jus, baby onions, pancetta lardons, crushed potato and seasonal vegetables. The Ayni, the estate’s icon wine from Altamira with full expression of Mendoza’s best terroir, is a real star – dark, rich, brooding and wonderful. It spends 18 months in French oak and comes in an equally attractive wooden box. “The Estate Selection Malbec is equally good and costs a couple of Pounds less” Sophie said. The Estate Selection Blend comes from the Uco Valley and is made with Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. It too is a lovely wine but for me, not in the same class as Ayni.
We drank chilled Bonarda (Douce noir of Savoie) with a dark chocolate fondant and brandy snap biscuits with vanilla ice cream. It was strange drinking a dry red with a chocolate pudding but the chilled, light, low tannin and alcohol wine was not offensive and in fact, was quite pleasing.
- “The Chakana tasting and dinner last Thursday was informative, interesting and very enjoyable. The wine we enjoyed the most was the Ayni Malbec but having said that we thought the whole range of wines presented were really good.
Sophie Jump was an enthusiastic speaker and exceptionally knowledgeable on the subject of Argentinian wines. Let us hope she produces a good itinerary for our proposed trip to Argentina.
This was our first visit to the golf club, we were impressed by both the food and the venue plus the staff were pleasant and helpful.” – Peter Murphy, Ackworth
- “Just a short, but heartfelt, note to thank you for the ‘Chakana’ Winetasting & Dinner’ evening on Thursday last at Pannal Golf Club. The event was a great success in every way and was a tribute to the interesting Chakana Wines, (we found the ‘Torrentes’ at the reception was most aromatic and with a very distinctive and memorable taste), to Sophie Jump’s lively and fluent presentations, and to your attentive and meticulous organisation. Moreover, the meal, especially the main course, was excellent and, as ever, the company and good fellowship further enhanced a truly memorable evening.” – Malcolm Beer, Harrogate
- “Last night proved to be an interesting tasting, most of the wines complementing the food. That and and excellent presentation made a very enjoyable experience.” – Jane Greenwood, Leeds
- “Sophie was both informative and entertaining, the wines interesting, and the company most enjoyable. All in all, a delightful tasting.” – Gail Bent, Harrogate
- “What a fabulous tasting we had with you on Thursday. Sophie was such a friendly an excellent speaker, her relaxed presentation was a great way to include us all so that we could really appreciate what we were tasting with each course. In fact if we had drunk every drop of the generous and lovely wines alloted on the table, we would have been even merrier!! (I would probably have been under the table singing away)!!
It was a super evening and the chef had prepared a delicious meal to top it all.” – Ann Joslin, Harrogate
- “I very much enjoyed the tasting dinner, especially the forthright presentation style! I would happily buy all the wines. The reds were all ‘a point’ despite their youth.” – Dr. Peter Goulding, Harrogate
- “Sorry I couldn’t make the tasting last night, I’m sure I would have enjoyed it.” – Dr. Ashley Guthrie, Harrogate
- “A very enjoyable evening! Wines very interesting and the supper was very good! The members who were absent missed a treat. The three Guests on my table were impressed – I hope they join us!” – Gwynneth Owen, Leeds
Chakana wines are imported to the UK by Fells