Chile answers back to red Bordeaux

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Alma Viva

Written by Jancis Robinson
20 Feb 2015

See also Chile’s revolutionary new reds and Chile’s fresh whites and a pink.

Chile’s traditional wine treasure is her Bordeaux-inspired reds, mainly made in a very special area on the outskirts of the capital in Maipo. I took this murky picture in the breakfast room of the NOI hotel in Chile where I was staying and tasting as an illustration of just how deeply embedded wine culture is in Chile’s capital. In this collection of reviews of 32 wines in this category, including many of the country’s most famous, there are some fabulous bargains. There are also the ambitiously priced icon wines which I did not always prefer to their more modestly priced siblings.

One respect in which Chile is blessed is that her dominant wine company, Concha y Toro, owner of a wide range of labels and projects, is run so well and is outward looking. The young guns of MOVI and VIGNO may kick against the big companies but in the overall picture, this helps the whole industry enormously. It has not always been the case that the dominant forces in all New World wine-producing countries have been so benign and open.

Many of these wines are available in the UK, where I believe Chile cast off its image as merely cheap and cheerful some time ago. We Brits are fortunate to have access to these great buys, some of them, such as the Loma Larga 2008, with the benefit of considerable bottle age.

It is time for other countries to wake up and smell the pure quality coming out of Chile’s vineyards and bodegas.

All these wines were tasted in Santiago earlier this month and are listed in alphabetical order by producer (sur)name.

Acróbata 2012 Rapel Entre Cordilleras

First label I have ever seen specifying ‘Entre Cordilleras’. Organic but not certified, from Apalta and San Vicente. 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Carmenère, 5% Syrah.

Mid crimson. Lively and sweet but as though some unusual oak had been used. An odd spiciness to this wine. 13.7%

Drink 2016-2020 €25 RRP 16
Almaviva 2012 Puente Alto
65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Carmenère, 8% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot, 1% Merlot.

Rather richer, slightly less defined nose than the 2011 Almaviva. Gamey and less sophisticated than the 2011. Big, bold and burly. Falls away a little suddenly. But there is an interesting black-

coffee note and it’s sweet, candified and fun with a decent structure for ageing. It may simply be too young. 14.9%

Drink 2017-2027 £90 RRP 17.5 Almaviva 2011 Puente Alto

The famous Philippe de Rothschild/Concha y Toro joint venture. 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Carmenère, 5% Cabernet Franc, 2% Merlot, 1% Petit Verdot.

Bright dark crimson. Very complex, sophisticated nose with clean bordeaux influence. Super- bright, fresh fruit. Great precision. Luscious ripeness and no Carmenère greenness. Energy and polish. Balance. Rather unashamedly drier tannins than in most Chilean Cabernets. Clearly set for the long term. If Ch Mouton Rothschild 2011 averaged £350 a bottle, I suppose £100 is a fair price for this delightfully subtle wine… 14.9%

Drink 2017-2030 £100 RRP 18

Altaïr 2011 Cachapoal Andes

This high-altitude property belongs 100% to the San Pedro group now that they have bought out the Dassault share and the winemaking team has been directed by one of Paul Hobbs’ team since around 2013. 59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Syrah, 15% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot.

Dark crimson and very dramatic. Concentrated and lush but not overdone nose. I like the combination of intense fruit, tension and dustiness. There is nothing hot nor excessive about this. Very clean and vibrant on the finish. And quintessentially Chilean. 14%

Drink 2014-2022

Imported by Shaw Ross (USA) 17.5

Antiyal, Kuyen 2011 Maipo

Alvaro Espinosa’s certified organic blend of 57% Syrah, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Carmenère and 2% Petit Verdot. Kuyen is Mapuche for moon. (Antiyal means ‘sons of the sun’.)

Dense mid crimson. Lots of real honest interest here on the nose. Very definitely Chilean with a great kick and layers. Spice, well-handled tannins, luscious plummy, quite complex fruit and a fresh finish. What’s not to like? Already approachable. Just finishes a little suddenly. 14.8%

Drink 2015-2021 £19 RRP 17

Aresti, Limited Edition Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 Curicó This 2001 from their Micaela estate is just released!

Impressive combination of opulently ripe fruit and a hint of tobacco leaf. Lightly and appetisingly dusty and most enjoyable at this point. Good freshness too. For the age it’s VGV. 13.5%

Drink 2010-2024

RRP 16.5

Aristos, Duque d’A Grand Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 Cachapoal Andes

Grand Cabernet du Chili, proclaims the label of this Louis-Michel Liger-Belair project with François Massoc and Pedro Parra at almost 900 m way up in the Andes near Coya on gravel with limestone.

Very deep, nuanced crimson. Intense and fully ripe but somehow Chilean on the nose. Lots of stoniness but masses of ripe fruit with an edge of leafiness. Lots of energy here. Really tastes intense and bright like a high-altitude wine. Well done for all the unique personality! 14.5%

Drink 2015-2023
£41 Justerini & Brooks 17
Chadwick Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Maipo

Wow! Hadn’t realised how expensive this wine was… Deepest crimson shaded out to the rim already. Really interesting, complex, sophisticated nose. Very opulent but also very appetising. Well done! Doesn’t seem at all forced. Very ambitious pricing, but it certainly is a good wine. Tannins well handled so that you could just about contemplate drinking this wine already. 13.5%

Drink 2016-2030

£155 RRP 17.5

Clos des Fous, Tocao 2012 Bío Bío

Granito paleozoico (328 million years), says the label, which does not spell out 120-year-old Malbec (85%) and 15% Carignan.

Healthy crimson. Very fresh direct nose full of fruit even if not especially obviously varietal. Pure fruit with the freshness of granite, but not too much. Great purity and balance but perhaps a little too austere to appeal to a neophyte. Best enjoyed by geology students? Fairly tart finish.

Drink 2015-2020
Imported by Liberty Wines (UK) 16.5+

Concha y Toro, Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 Puente Alto

Very dark crimson. Mellow, sweet nose, 100% Napa! Sweet start and then a little leathery, almost Syrah-like on the finish. I must say I treasure the freshness in the much cheaper Marques de Casa Concha bottling from the same stable. But there’s an attractive tea-leaf quality to this. I just don’t think it’s worth three times the Marques but I suppose that is the nature of ‘icon’ pricing. 14.5%

Drink 2014-2020 £50 RRP 16.5

Concha y Toro, Marques de Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Puente Alto

The other ‘Limited Edition’ contains some deliberately early-picked fruit apparently as the average picking time has moved back six weeks from how it used to be in the 1970s. But this is the mainstream bottling and the grapes will probably be picked late April.

Very deep crimson. Complex satisfying blend of very ripe fruit and super-mellow tannins but with sufficient acidity. Very Napa texture but less sweet than many California wines. This should continue to age for many a year. Very long and with the alcohol evident on the finish but not soupy. Just a little tightly wound on the finish at the moment. VVGV 14.6%

Drink 2016-2023 £13 RRP 16.5+

Cousiño-Macul, Finis Terrae 2011 Maipo

Already looks a little ruby at the rim. Lusciously ripe and with a layer of dustiness that just adds interest. So much better value than the white version! Great balance. Density but no overripeness. Some clean freshness on the finish. Velvety texture. Tannins definitely there with a certain medicinal quality of fruit but they are reasonably well hidden. GV 14%

Drink 2015-2021 £19 RRP 17 Echeverría, Propuesta 2012 Maipo

Jokey label. Blend of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Carmenère, 5% Malbec, 5% Petite Sirah. Made to induce ‘happy moments’.

Gentle, almost imperceptible tannins and lots of direct appeal. Fairly light on the finish but this is evidence that the Chilean wine industry is not taking itself too seriously. Fairly simple but honest and without obvious greenness from the Carmenère. 13.3%

Drink 2015-2018 £12.90 RRP 16
Emiliana, Gê Los Robles Estate 2011 Colchagua
Biodynamic. 45% Carmenère, 40% Syrah, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Very dark crimson. Tangy, pungent nose. Sweet and polished with lots of appeal. No strong varietal character, just a well-judged blend that is already well integrated. Lots of energy and persistent, though it is not cheap. Very clean and direct. 14.5%

Drink 2014-2020 £40 RRP 16.5

Errázuriz, Don Maximiano Founder’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Aconcagua

Dark luscious purplish crimson colour. Freshness is the watchword on the nose, as opposed to the rich ripeness of the Maipo Cabs. Quite subtle and a bit minty. Tannins very well managed. Well put together. But it’s pretty muscular as opposed to fleshy. Dry tea-leaf flavours on the finish. Should make old bones. 14%

Drink 2017-2030 £50 RRP 17 O Fournier 2010 Maule

40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc, 20% Carignan, 20% Syrah from La Higuera vineyard.

Mellow, interesting nose. Pungent hint of fireworks and very luscious with no shortage of either alcohol or acidity but a good and interesting honest wine. A little bit of candied fruits on the end. Quite wild and distinctive and I think at least one element in the blend was left to get a bit overripe. 15.5%

Drink 2014-2020 £50 RRP 16.5

Gillmore, Hacedor de Mundos Old Vines Cabernet Franc 2010 Loncomilla

Dry-farmed 60-year-old Tabontinaja vines.

Dark purple. Very fresh, vibrant nose with some austerity on the end. Lots of energy but not much subtlety. Wild and rough. Tart finish. 15.2%

Drink 2016-2019 £15 Naked Wines 16
Haras de Pirque, Albis 2006 Maipo
Made by Antinori on the Haras de Pirque property. 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Carmenère.

Very deep crimson. A hint of mousiness on the nose which is not one of lushest of the Maipo Cabernets. Very sweet on the palate with the strong green streak of Carmenère. Does not seem very integrated to me. Dramatic but still jagged after all these years. 15%

Drink 2013-2018 £22 RRP 16-
Haras de Pirque, Hussonet Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 Maipo

Antinori’s Chilean outpost. 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Syrah.

Very dark crimson. Appetising nose and then lots of sweetness with a hint of menthol and liquorice. Rather dry, sudden finish, but only after masses of flatteringly opulent ripe fruit. This wine seems to be particularly easy to find in Germany and Russia. VGV 14%

Drink 2014-2018 £11 RRP 16.5

Loma Larga Cabernet Franc 2008 Casablanca

Will this be the oldest wine in my Santiago tastings? Very dark crimson. Complex nose with more than a hint of mature St-Émilion about it. Very pure varietal flavours with some fresh bloodiness. Fully mature and surely much better value than any red bordeaux they are selling at the same price? Absolutely ready now and with a spine of Casablanca acidity but very worthwhile. How on earth will J&B sell their 19 cases? Both luscious and very digestible. GV 14.5%

Drink 2012-2017 £14.50 Berry Bros 17
Los Vascos, Le Dix 2011 Colchagua
85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Carmenère, 5% Syrah.

Lively mid crimson. Medium-intensity sweet fruit and a suggestion of top-quality oak in the Lafite manner. A little tart with a hint of telltale traditional Chilean greenness on the finish. Just a tad skinny and inky. 14%

Drink 2016-2020
£37.50 Waddesdon Wines 16
Los Vascos, Grande Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Colchagua 75% Carmenère, 10% Syrah, 10% Malbec, 5% other varieties.

Pungent nose with a hint of cow byres but no shortage of lusciously fully ripe fruit. No rough edges. Well worked. Lots of pleasure here. Already. According to winesearcher.com prices and wide distribution, this is VGV. 14.3%

Drink 2015-2019 £12.50 RRP 16.5

Maquis, Franco Cabernet Franc 2010 Colchagua

Dark purple. Sweet, fresh nose, solid constitution, and a little formulaic on the palate. The Boissenots are touted as helping with the blending. Tastes more like regulation-issue Médoc than anything as aromatic as a typical Cabernet Franc. It’s certainly solid and impressive but I do wonder whether it’s worth a European going as far as Chile for this? 14%

Drink 2015-2021 Imported by Global Vineyard Importers (USA) 16.

El Principal 2009 Maipo Andes

88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Carmenère.

Very dark blackish crimson. Potent! Hint of green on the nose (is this the Carmenère?). Rich, round texture is sweet at first but the river of green runs through it. You have to like Carmenère to like this wine. Luscious mouthfeel. All about texture, and Carmenère really. Not a fully satisfying whole to my taste though I’m sure it has its fans. 15%

Drink 2014-2019 Imported by Hispa Merchants (UK) 16.5
Santa Carolina, Piedras Pizarras Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Cachapoal
From Totihue, high in Cachapoal, vineyard bought from the defunct Corpora group.

Healthy glowing mid crimson. Sweet, rather gamey nose. Very young and sweet rather than dense. Not especially obviously Cabernet to me – presumably it is more marked by the schistous terrain. Another one for the geology students! Just a little light. 13.2%

Drink 2016-2021 Imported by Ehrmanns (USA) 16
Santa Carolina, Luis Pereira Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Colchagua Some vines date back to 1912.
Dark lustrous crimson. Very relaxed and easy.
Drink 2014-2020
16.5
Santa Rita, Cerro 93 2006 Maipo
Very NHB. Alto Jahuel. 96% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Merlot.

Dark purplish crimson. Lovely layers of ripe flavour here. Impressive nose! Then marked acidity on the palate with some vanilla ice cream notes. Still very youthful but it seems to be constructed for a promising future. For the moment, just inhale! 13.7%

Drink 2018-2028 Imported by Palm Bay International (USA) 17

Santa Rita, Floresta Pumanque Cabernet Franc 2012 Colchagua Costa

92% Cabernet Franc, 8% Merlot and Syrah.

Fresh, vibrant, focused nose. Still youthful with lively fruit flavours though still to develop real varietal subtlety. Promising. Rather dusty, tart finish. 14.4%

Drink 2016-2019 Imported by Palm Bay International (USA) 16

Seña 2012 Aconcagua

Once a joint venture between Robert Mondavi and Errázuriz. 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Carmenère, 12% Merlot, 7% Malbec, 6% Petit Verdot.

Dark luscious crimson. Lifted, very Cabernet/cassis nose. Quite a bit of acidity and the fruit is a little coarser and more tannic and angular than in the Almaviva 2012. Still a lot of tannin here plus sweet purple berry fruit. Slightly harsh green notes on the end. 14%

Drink 2017-2025 £70 RRP 17
Siegel, Unique Selection 2011 Colchagua
40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Carmenère, 25% Syrah.

Healthy deep crimson. Mellow, well-integrated nose. Great texture and the Carmenère seems suitably ripe. Round and flattering even if with a bit of chewy tannin on the end. Well assembled and vigorous. GV 14.5%

Drink 2015-2021 £16 RRP 16.5
Tres Palacios, Family Vintage Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Maipo

Dark crimson and tangy fruit. Not that thick. Damson fruit with a real kick. Just a hint of greenness. Straightforward friendly Maipo Cab without the ambition of some. 14%

Drink 2015-2019 Imported by Ellis of Richmond 16

Vik, Millahue 2011 Cachapoal

Lavish, Norwegian-owned project with a massive investment in hotel/tourism and Patrick Villette as winemaker. Just over the hill from Apalta. 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Carmenère, 7% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot, 4% Syrah.

Very dark purplish crimson. Savoury, fully ripe nose. Masses of sweetness and lusciousness. Should go down very well in the US. Though it’s not cheap! Just a little over the top and old school arguably, but I suppose it expresses where it comes from. Light gamey hint on the finish. 14%

Drink 2015-2021 USD140 RRP

 

Fuente: Jancis Robinson