So far in 2009, Chilean wine exports have gone up by around 15% by volume but the average bottle price has gone down by around 10%. During the recent harvest, Chile wasn’t as badly affected by adverse weather as some of its South American neighbours and wine quantities may be up by around 15%. That means that there should be some deals to be done with producers and importers, so it’s a good time for retailers to think about adding some extra interest to their Chilean offerings. With an eye to budget bottles that are characterful, along with some treats for trading up, here are some Chileans tasted recently, with prices approximately retail.
Good budget buys: whites and rosés
Cono Sur Gewurztraminer 2008 (Findlater €8.40). Lightly floral, slightly juicy style; good as aperitif and with canapes.
Torres Santa Digna Gewurztraminer 2007/8 (Findlater €10.50). Not quite entry point but a lively style with good concentration. Good with Roquefort in lieu of top Alsace.
Rucahue Viognier 2008 (seeking distributor €7). One of a range of very good value wines, including shiraz, cabernet franc and malbec. Details from Jean Smullen at Wines of Chile.
Underraga Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (Comans €8). With many decent entry point sauvignons around it’s hard to single one out, and this one is sometimes overlooked: good with cold salmon.
Terra Andina Chardonnay 2008 (Gilbey €8.50). Decent entry point, and the Reserva 2007 is a decently structured trade up at a couple of euro more.
Santiano 2008 Rosé (United Drinks €8). Usually made from merlot with flavours of strawberry and ripe raspberry. Works well with nibbles and cold chicken.
Cono Sur Pinot Noir 2008 (Findlater €8). Cono’s 20 Barrels Pinot has got a rake of awards but this entry point one has always been one of the best budget beaters around. A great intro for consumers getting into pinot for the first time, as well as for fans who fancy a bit of pinot mid week without having to assault the wallet.
Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon (Irish Distillers, €10) Well priced but with enough concentration and structure to go with red meats.
Tamaya Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2007 (Quintessential €9). Decent blackcurrant flavours and structure for the price.
Terra Andina Carmenere 2008 (Gilbey €8.30). Better site and clone selection, and more carefully chosen harvest times have really cleaned up the carmenere act at all price levels in the last two years. This has good varietal character but is fresh and tasty with nicely balancing acidity
Trading up: whites
Errazuriz Wild Ferment Chardonnay (Cassidy €16.50) One of the trail blazers in the move toward naturally occuring yeasts for fermenation, this has decidedly Burgundian style while still retaining approachable fruit flavours. Max Reserva Chardonnay 2007 (Cassidy €15.50) is a step above the entry Estate range and worth the jump for concentration and balance.
Casa Silva Viognier 2008 (Febvre €16). Varietally very correct with lots of flowery succulence, soft yellow plum and melon flavours.
Cono Sur Bio Bio Riesling Reserva 2007 (Findlater €13). This a small production wine so you may have to make a special order. Slightly off dry but with sufficient acidity to buffer the sweetness. Interesting stuff and good with richer white fish such as sea bass or monkfish.
San Pedro 1865 Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (Cassidys €18). Strong on flavour with varietal definition and good concentration, and lots of body for white roast meats and rich fish dishes.
Cono Sur 20 Barrells Sauvignon Blanc 2006 (Findlater €18). Dry citrus and pineapple fruit with soft, and well concentrated gooseberry flavours. The slight ageing has given it a mineral, slightly nutty touch. Enjoyable treat with good length.
Loma Larga Cabernet Franc 2005 (Gleeson €18). This is something really different for the Chile fan who wants to trade up. Sound balance and structure underpin fresh, well defined plum fruit. Lovely with duck.
Armador Carmenere 2007 (Tindal €13). A pretty stylish example, with good varietal character and nicely balance structure and acidity. There’s also a good syrah at around the same price.
Castillo de Monlina Shiraz 2007 (Cassidys €12). Shiraz is the latest story from Chile. This is lively, plummy and excellent with grilled meats.
Ventisquero Yali Three Lagoons Shiraz 2006 (Galvins €13). Fruity New World style but not over ripe, and would be lovely with lamb or duck.
Casa LapostelleCuvee Alexandra Syrah 2003 (Comans €25). This is where Chile sets itself up in direct competition with premium Australians. A mature wine which straddles European and New World styles. There’s ripe blackcurrant and bramble but hints of lead pencil as well, and all leads to an enjoyable, slightly leathery fruit finish.
Tarapaca Natura Plus Cabernet Franc 2005 (Gleeson €12). Clean, dense and very enjoyable; lots of character at a very good price.
Valdivieso Merlot Reserve 2006 (Wine Select/Chris Harrison €13.50). Another wine, not so very far above budget point, which is excellent value for money. Plum and berry fruit with decent structure.