Continuing on a vinous theme, Iíve been sampling some more high-end Chilean wines. The question Iíve been trying to address is one Iím almost embarrassed to admit to. I should censor myself at this stage, but I canít. It is thus: does Chile make any serious wines. Now there isnít space here to define what I mean by serious, but I reckon most of you have a good idea. If you are invited to a wine geek gathering, could you take a Chilean wine along? Have any Chilean wines made it onto your list of Ďtop ten wines drunk this yearí? Look, I think Chile makes really smart commercial wine. If you are spending £4 on a bottle, then Chileís a good place to shop. Or even £6 Ė it delivers plenty of flavour, especially with red wines. But does it do serious wine? Iím not ready to answer that question. Iím still in a data gathering phase.
So two more data points. Hacienda Araucano ĎAlkaí CarmenŤre 2003 Colchagua is an ambitious wine from J & F Lurton. Itís £30+, which puts it among the Chilean elite. I like it a lot, but I think it falls just short of serious. Lots of elegant, pure blackcurrant pastille fruit, with some silky tannic structure. It needs more complexity than just the sweet pure fruit (elegant as it may be) to be counted as serious. Close but no cigar.
Terrunyo Shiraz 2004 Cachapoal is a high-end wine from the Concha y Toro stable. Itís from a single vineyard, planted on a hill. Yours for £10.99 from Majestic. I wanted to like this wine, but it relies too heavily on spicy, roasted oak to mask those distinctively Chilean green herbal notes tagged on to the sweet, ripe black fruits. Itís tasty and accessible Ė I can imagine non-wine geeks really enjoying this Ė but itís a bit forced, and in a very new world style.