These two red wines hail from Gonzalez Byass’s holdings in Chile. (Veramonte is its best known brand.) These grapes are grown in various vineyards located throughout the country, and you’ll note the relevant appellations in the respective writeups below.
2016 Ritual Pinot Noir Casablanca Valley – A slightly darker expression of pinot noir, at least as far as fruit is concerned: Black cherry and a touch of tar give this wine a sense of austerity. At the same time, it’s got a surprisingly light body, a lower alcohol construction that is a bit at odds with the dense flavor profile. A bit of yin and a bit of yang, it works best as a meal companion — though the lingering notes of black tea give it a certain style when sipped solo. B+ / $21
2015 Neyen Espiritu de Apalta Colchagua Valley – An ever-changing blend, this year Neyen is made from 45% carmenere and 55% cabernet sauvignon. One of the top wines in the Byass portfolio, this silky number is rolling in milk chocolate notes, with notes of strawberry and some baking spice dusted across the top. Opulent and unctuous, the tannins feel far more austere and well-integrated than you would expect from a wine just 5 years in the bottle, and the two varietals complement one another nicely, leading to a lengthy, seductive conclusion with just a hint of that carmenere beefiness on the finish. One of the best Chilean wines you’re likely to come across. A / $60