I was told that Wong‘s Expo Vino was the best wine tasting event in Latin America as fact by one of the people working for the event, and to be honest I absolutely believe it.
Expo Vino brings hundreds of wines from all over Latin America, and the rest of the world, to this event in Chorrillos, Lima, where ticket holders can try tasters of each one. The wines are all judged by a panel of no more than 10 experts and then are awarded with prizes dependent on the amount of points each bottle gained in their field.
They can win Bronze, Silver, Gold or even the Gran Medalla de Oro (extra gold!), however regardless of prize, they all showcase their wines for the public to choose from. They also put their wines on offer during this event, in a special mini Wong store by the exit, so you can buy wines with up to 50% off their regular price, which is absolutely amazing.
We were lucky enough to be invited this year to see all that Wong had to offer. Well I say lucky, but really my boyfriend buys a lot of bottles of wine from Wong, so as our gift we were given our ticket to Expo Vino.
Wong really does take care of its customers like that, whether it’s in store or during events too. It’s a fantastic supermarket to do your weekly or monthly shop in, and full of products and brands that you cannot get hold of anywhere else in Peru. I also like to enjoy a mid-shop snack which they make possible via tasters, or ice cream and desserts or even chinese food. Amazing.
I explained last year how Expo Vino is set up, with the main space dedicated to wines and then a few separate ‘salons’ (special lounges), but this year we had a few changes to the latter part.
There were 4 ‘salons’ in total as opposed to 3 last year, and one of those 3 has grown in size and changed location. This year there is a Salon de Cava which costs S/200 to enter and the Salon de Whisky returns. The Salon Gourmet (which is now located on the right hand side as you enter and is much bigger) has food (cheese and ham plates) and some artisanal beer, and then next to that space is the Salon del Pisco, neither of which comes with a cover charge (although the food is not included in your ticket price).
There is also again this year a number of restaurants to eat in throughout the event, including Granja Azul.
This is one of my favourite places to eat, and they serve the best Pollo a la Leña (chicken roasted in a clay oven over wood) and chips in the whole of Lima (except ARO, who serve chips to rival!)
But, back to the most important part; the wine…..
I want to share my favourites from 2015, which I hope you will want to add to your wishlist of wines to buy during your next shopping expedition, or to try yourselves if you are able to attend Expo Vino tomorrow (Saturday 3rd). They hadn’t displayed all of the medals for each vineyard so I can’t tell you if all of the bottles below won awards this year or not, but there were a few I have made sure to take note of. Luckily all of the wines from the 2014 post are still showcasing at Expo Vino this year (and are all still excellent), but for this post I’m going to give you a whole new list to indulge yourselves in.
So, put both lists together, and you are set for a fantastic Expo Vino!
NOTE: These lists are just my recommendations with some random descriptions of things that I personally tasted when drinking each glass. Some may sound very similar (I like the words fruity and smooth….), but just remember I am no expert, just someone who enjoys a glass of wine!
/// RED ///
El Enemigo Malbec 2010 from Mendoza, Argentina
I was so looking forward to trying this wine last year, but they had run out of bottles, so as soon as I saw it this year I jumped at the chance to try it (currently S/129 at wong.com.pe). Smooth, and full of juicy fruity flavours; I fell in love almost instantly. Red fruits or blackberries hit me to begin with and it was sweet and full bodied but smooth and delicious. I honestly could have drunk this wine all afternoon!
Alto Tierruca Gran Reserva Carménère 2013 from Colchagua Valley, Chile (exclusive to Wong)
I don’t particularly like Carménère, but my boyfriend loves it, and he really enjoyed this particular one. The label suggested red fruits, tobacco, and strawberry jam, but I also found it very herby and savoury tasting (perhaps the tobacco notes). I much prefer the taste of fruits in my velvety wine, so this one wasn’t for me, but if you like that slightly lighter more herby taste then this one might be for you.
Carmen Gran Reserva Merlot 2011 & Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 from Alto Maipo Valley, Chile (exclusive to Wong and the vineyard was a gold medal winner in 2014 )
The Merlot was absolutely stunning, and I could imagine snuggling up with a bottle of this in winter. It’s so full flavoured and full bodied, but perfectly smooth and velvety in taste and full of berry flavours. Such a deep and drinkable wine. The Cabernet Sauvignon was also a very nice bottle, albeit less smooth and a little drier in the mouth, but definitely quite fruity too.
The gentleman in this booth had come from Chile to represent the wines, and he was very informative and helpful. He assured me that I would prefer the Merlot to the Cabernet and he was absolutely right. It’s great to know that the person serving the wine is excellently informed.
Tapiz Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 from Mendoza, Argentina (This bottle was a Gran Medalla de Oro (top award) winner 2015)
An excellent wine, and I can see why it won such a high honour. A wine that has a very smooth finish, and is slightly sweeter (though not sweet) than I would expect a Cabernet Sauvignon to be, however this doesn’t take away from the flavour or the body of the wine. A full- bodied, flavourful beauty with hints of cherry.
Kinien de Don Raúl 2011 from Mendoza, Argentina
This wine, from the Ruca Malen vineyard (a favourite of ours), is around S/300 a bottle and it is absolutely beautiful. It’s a mixture of 4 different grapes and is the top wine from the Ruca Malen vineyard. I mentioned two bottles from here last year too, and this was another excellent option from a continuously brilliant vineyard. Full bodied, fruity and smooth; everything I love in a wine. For me it’s a wine that I would want to drink slowly and savour over an evening, as it is quite a rich, full wine; a wine to really enjoy. Delicious.
/// WHITE ///
Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand
One of my favourite wines, and a family favourite too. New Zealand wines are extremely popular in England, but far less common here in Peru, and I am so happy that I can get bottles of Villa Maria in Wong. I didn’t try this in Expo Vino as I have drunk it many a time before, but I had to mention it, because I seemed to have missed it last year when it won its gold medal. Delightfully fruity and crisp, and so fresh, just like a good Sauvignon Blanc should be. I really dislike overly acidic ones, and this bottle is definitely not that. A firm favourite for years for a very good reason!
Chateau Ste. Michelle Chardonnay 2011 from Woodinville, Washington State, USA
I’m not sure that I have ever had a wine from the USA so I really can’t compare this wine to any I have previously tasted. I have put it on this list though due to its smooth finish and drinkability, and also for its buttery, nutty flavour. I have never tasted anything like this before (I don’t drink that much Chardonnay), but I would definitely drink it again. Such an interesting flavour.
Durbanville Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2012 from Cape Town, South Africa
A nice fresh and crisp Sauvignon from South Africa. Deliciously fruity and not overly dry or acidic like you can find with some Sauvignon Blancs. So refreshing!
Nederburg Noble Late Harvest, Winemaster’s Reserve, Vintage 2011 from Paarl, South Africa
I loved this sweet wine, which is a mixture of 87% Chenin Blanc and 13% Muscat de Frontignan. It reminded me a lot of mead (an alcoholic drink made from honey) due to its honey coloured appearance and thicker ‘dessert wine’ texture, and it had a delightful flavour of apples and even slightly of warm raisins (in my opinion). It actually reminded me, at the end, of an excellent apple pie served with that glass of honeyed mead. Absolute heaven. The vineyard suggests flavours of peach and apricot which I do think is spot on too, as both fruits are quite sweet and honey like too, especially dried apricots.
/// SPARKLING ///
Codorníu Brut Rose “Anna” from Catalonia, Spain
I really enjoyed the Codorníu Brut Blanc de Blancs “Anna” last year (read the reason behind the name here – click 1984 on this page) and so this year I was tempted to try the Brut Rose “Anna”, which is a mix of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. This sparkling wine was delicious and had a taste that reminded me of very ripe red apples. It was such a pleasure to drink, just like the Blanc de Blancs, but definitely a touch sweeter. A perfect bottle of sparkles for any special occasion.
Another bottle we tried was the Codorníu Brut Pinot Noir which instead is pure Pinot Noir and therefore has a slightly deeper and more concentrated flavour than the Brut Rose.
Mumm Extra Brut from Mendoza, Argentina
Mumm is always a favourite for us. The Extra Brut is flavourful and dry, but also crisp, refreshing, and has a perfectly smooth finish, unlike other dry sparkling wines which can leave a slightly bitter aftertaste. A perfect accompaniment to our beautifully sunny day in Expo Vino.
/// PISCO ///
Paca Paca – Guardian de la Uva
This is a brand of Pisco that I had never seen before and it had such an attractive appearance that I was immediately drawn in. I’m so glad that I was, because the Moscatel was extremely good quality. A good flavour without being to strong, and then a perfectly smooth finish as you swallow with a slightly warming sensation in the throat. My boyfriend also really liked the Mollar, a grape that even he had never heard of before. Mine was such a nice pisco that I was not surprised to find that they are actually stocked in many of the top restaurants in Lima. An excellent find!
Go during the day and you will have far less crowds, much more time to speak with the distributors or people representing each wine/vineyard, and much more chance of getting your favourite bottles in the shop. It’s a far more pleasant experience and a far more interesting one too.
I would also just like to mention the excellent piano player that plays throughout the event. Charlie plays jazz, traditional Peruvian, rat pack, musicals….the list goes on. Everything is in a laid back, chilled, jazz style, and is perfect to listen to with a glass of wine. Thank you Charlie.
I hope you enjoy Expo Vino if you can make it, and if not, I hope you get to try one of these excellent wines very soon (or even the ones I recommended last year). Let me know which ones are your favourites!
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