jamie goode's wine blog

Saturday, April 08, 2006

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.


At 4:01 AM, Blogger g58 said...

I don't think you'd consider this Casablanca Valley Chard a serious wine... but it's one Chilean I might put in my top ten wine this year. It made me think of a very serious Chardonnay from Beaune:

At 6:26 PM, Anonymous Ollie said...

Hi Jamie,

it's me again, the Veramonte guy. Sorry, but I wasn't aware of the "other" option allowing you to enter a name.

I haven't had the Terrunyo Syrah yet (btw it's not Terrunya; there's a typo - it comes from the word terruŮo after all), but CyT's Terrunyo-series Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon are consistently among Chile's best reds. Not as ultra-premium as Almaviva or Clos Apalta etc., but super-premium and IMO certainly more worth the money than their bigger brothers. By Chilean standards, that is: Yes, Chilean producers can do serious wines, but no, they're not as good a bargain as lesser wines. As a matter of fact, they're almost expensive, a bit too much pushing the price envelope for my taste (no pun intended). I'd be very interested in your comments about those wines.

If you're more into Syrah, however, you might want to take a closer look at Montes' Folly, Errazuriz's La Cumbre or Matetic's EQ, supposedly the spearhead Syrahs in Chile. If you can get them - they're notoriously difficult to find and very expensive.

Cheers from Montreal.

At 8:42 AM, Anonymous Piers Barclay said...

I agree with you regarding the Terryunyo, but the CyT make a Don Melchor Cab Sauv which I remember being 'serious'. I tasted it when I was in Chile, so I'm afraid I don't know cost/availability. The other one to try is perhaps Le Dix de Los Vascos (particularly 01) from the DBR stable...


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