T’is the season to be Chile

Chile has consistently been able to deliver good value and good quality this year, and so is on point to play a key role in the wine offering this Christmas

With its producers keeping a foot on the value pump there’s no getting away from the fact that a huge proportion of wine drunk in Ireland this Christmas will be Chilean. So when Wines of Chile held its most recent Dublin tasting, I was on special look out for keenly priced bottles of that most turkey friendly grape variety, pinot noir, as well as keeping a weather eye for something new, suitable as a gift or personal treat.

Morande Pinot Noir 2006 (Nash €12.99) was sound value, with a decent structure and firm, well-defined fruits.

Cono Sur Pinot 2008 (Findlater €9,49) is the best pinot you’ll find at this price but perhaps for Christmas it’s worth the trade up to the Morande or, indeed, to Cono Sur’s own Reserve Pinot Noir 2007 for around the same money.

Among wines new to me, it was a couple of cabernet francs that caught my eye and they didn’t disappoint. Loma Larga Cabernet Franc 2005 (Gleeson €19) was lovely stuff, with crunchy red and dark fruits and a real bit of character; a perfect gift wine.

Chocolan Cabernet Franc Reserva 2006 (O’Briens €12.99) is currently exclusive to O’Briens but it’s terrific value, full of fresh blackcurrant fruits and a touch of green pepper.

Cabernet Franc turned up again in Oveja Negra 2008 (Classic Drinks €10.99), this time blended with carmènére. I’m not sure it’s the wine for die hard fans of either variety but, brought together, they made a tasty, well-priced red, perfect with turkey and good value for drinkers who aren’t fussed about what grape their wine is made from.

Of the carmènéres, best buy was Secreto 2008 (Mackenway €13.99) which managed to capture the character of the grape, with its hints of green beneath dark fruits, while avoiding the common pitfalls of insufficient acidity and too soft a structure. It should work well with turkey.

One of the best value cabernets was an old reliable Montes Classic 2008 (Findlater €11.99); everything was in harmony here, from the well-defined fruit to the fine balance of alcohol, acidity and tannins. It delivers quite comfortably above its price point.

And if you want merlot, a well priced offering was Mont Gras Soleus 2008 (Barry Fitzwilliam €9.99). A good party wine but respectable enough to take to dinner.

Amongst whites, Terra Andina Chardonnay Reserva 2008 (Gilbeys €9.99) had punchy flavours yet with some classic citrus and mineral notes. It knocked the socks off many a chardonnay at €10 more and would work with turkey and all white meats.

Finally, Costa Verde Indomita Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (United Wine €10.95) had some classic, Sancerre-style green apple and gooseberry flavours; another good value bottle which would be great with most cold starters.

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