Chile’s vineyards have been producing fine fruit for centuries, but in the last two decades, viticultural research in conjunction with substantial amounts of capital improved quality immeasurably.
Well-established large wineries make and market superb wines that can compete with the best anywhere.
Recent developments indicate that all are now making concerted efforts to increase their world market chare, and they stand a very good chance in succeeding simply because their prices are more than competitive. Labour costs are low, land is inexpensive, and vineyard maintenance requires fewer hours than those on steep slopes, as is the case in many European regions. Weather patterns remain constant year after year. Variances are small enough to be barely noticeable.
So successful have been the likes of Concha y Toro, Vina Cousino-Macul, Vina Santa Rita, Vina Santa Carolina, and Errazuriz that European wineries felt compelled to invest in the Chilean viticulture. Casa Lapostolle, Baron de Rotschild, Caliterra and Torres are only some of the famous investors.
Recently the Chilean trade commissioner in Toronto staged a blind tasting of her country’s wines.
The results were revealing to say the least. Label bias was excluded, and as a result, tasters (mostly wine writers) recorded their impressions without prejudice.
The wines were served in five flights without indication of grape variety or vintage.
Here are the Chilean wines I liked best.
Caliterra, Sauvignon Blanc 2004, excelled with typical gooseberry aromas and a fine balance. A lively acidity made the wine succulent and good company with food. This is a wine particularly suitable for white fleshed fried or grilled seafood.
Santa Rita Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2004 appealing and penetrating gooseberry aromas, followed by a medium body and fine acid backbone.
Definitely a food wine to match with grilled scallops, steamed mussels, seafood pastas and pan-fried sole fillets.
Errazuriz, Sauvignon Blanc 2003 a finely balanced wine with good fruit and medium body. Highly recommended as an aperitif with grilled, roasted or pan-fried chicken, or all kinds of grilled fish.
Cousino-Macul, Antiguas Reserves Chardonnay 2003 this full-bodied wine from one of the finest wineries of Chile smells of pears and ripe fruit. In the mouth, it is smooth and buttery with a fine support of oak. A superb wine representing good value. Enjoy with baked or grilled salmon, stuffed roast filet of pork.
Casa Lapostolle Cuvee Alexander Merlot 2001 has a brilliant dark crimson colour. The wine exudes raspberry and berry aromas. In the mouth, this multidimensional wine has a superb, smooth texture opening up to toasty flavours.
It requires one or two years of cellaring to achieve its full potential, but is enjoyable now with rich foods, like beef or game stews, medium rare steaks or roast rib of beef.
Santa Carolina, Barrica Selection Carmenere 2003 Chile’s varietal Carmenere wines are always appealing whereas in Bordeaux, where the grape originates, it is used in blends. Brilliant red colour, aromas of ripe berries, and mint waft out of the glass. Opulent and rich in the mouth, this full bodied wine is best enjoyed with roasted or grilled lamb, or grilled steaks or beef stews. Hard cheeses would be excellent as well.
Ventisquero Yali Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 offers ripe berry aromas, intense deep flavour, good balance and a long satisfying aftertaste. Enjoy with cheeses, pizzas, pastas with meat sauce and roast beef.
Carmen, Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 dark red, brilliant colour. Fruity with a medium-to-full body. Well-balanced with a long finish. Recommended with roast leg of lamb, roast rack of lamb, beef or game stew, hard-cheeses ie. Five or seven year old cheddar, Gruyere, Emmental, Muenster
Caliterra, Sena 2001 I have tasted this wine several times in the past year. Every time I taste it, I find the characteristics even better. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc the wine is essentially Bordeaux blend minus Petit Verdot and Malbec. The bouquet is intermingling with smoke, and raspberry fruit. In the mouth, tobacco and chocolate flavours dominate. A full-bodied, superbly balanced intense and refined wine, with a long, satisfying aftertaste.
Enjoy it on its own, with hard cheeses, or with a roast lamb or grilled medium-rare steak.
$ 80.00 plus,