Chile highlights

British wine lovers have become very used to the appeal of the wines of Chile – excellent value, well made, fruit driven wines. They are the products of a country which, with modern irrigation, has become a viticultural paradise and of large companies making wine in a highly professional  manner.  However, we rarely try Chile’s higher quality wines.  Here from a recent tasting are three that stood out:

 

Chile hightlights

Amayna Sauvignon Blanc barrel fermented Leyda Valley 2007 £17.50

Despite having chosen this wine, I approached it with some trepidation.  Jancis Robinson’s comment – admittedly tasted when the wine was much younger – did not inspire confidence:  ‘I used to quite like this style but the interaction of oak and Sauvignon ripeness seems over the top here’ .  But the good news was that the oak has now settled down and wine has become quite harmonious; in fact not a gooseberry bush or a plank of wood in sight.  The wine has lost its primary fruit but has become very supple in the mouth, still powerful, with an intriguing salty edge.  The vanilla and leather notes are relatively muted.  It would be interesting to try an unoaked version of the same quality.

 

Cono Sur 20 Barrels Chardonnay Casablanca Valley 2006 £12.95

A more common style – oak ageing and lively fruit in the ripe apple to tropical range – this also has settled down over the years, Refined if still moderately pronounced on the nose, the vanilla and leather of oak is now well combined with lemon aromas. The palate shows good lime and lemon fruit and excellent acidity. It’s not white Burgundy but then why should it be?  It is a very good wine in a fruit-led New World style at a very good price.

 

Purple AngelVina Montes Purple Angel Colchagua Valley 2007 £22.75

If the prize was for the weight of the bottle or the depth of the punt, then the Purple Angel would be flying off with it, no contest.  And the wine inside the massive bottle is pretty muscular too: 92% Carmenère, 8% Petit Verdot. So this is a text book example of how two minor grapes from the Bordeaux blend grown in perfect Chilean conditions can produce a wine of both substance, intensity and not a little finesse.  A deep ribena colour, mint and blackcurrant/blackberry fruit on the nose and then a remarkable palate of fruit with some cocoa notes. Very long finish.

 

 

These big reds all cry out for red meat and  we duly provided them (and us) with Venison and prune casserole, a perfect match.  Other wines tasted:

Venison

Concha Y Toro Reserva NV Sparkling wine – 100% Chardonnay, rather sparse if fine bubbles, mild vanilla and apple nose, refreshing, very drinkable

Tabalì Reserve Syrah Limarì Valley 2007 – strawberries/plum fruit and smoke, big alcoholic legs, serious stuff

Concha Y Toro Terrunyo Cabernet Sauvignon Maipo Valley 2005 – textbook Chile, forward blackcurrant and leather nose, good acid balance, amazing quality at the price (£10)

Concha Y Toro Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2007 – pleasant honey and flowers on the nose, quite a luscious sweet palate, both fresh fruit and  marmalade, waxy and rounded: all that for less than £6!

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