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26 May 2011

Chile: rosé / rosado

Loica Pinot Noir Rosé
from leyda.cl
You’d be right in thinking the latter term should be the one on the bottle, coming from a Spanish speaking country, but virtually all of the 15 pink wines below are labelled as ‘rosé’. The message from Chilean winemakers, whose ‘rosados’ I tried at the London International Wine Fair last week, was the same though. Outside of Chile, people don’t really get the Spanish word for rosé (until they see the wine’s colour, presumably!). I’ve noticed this too on some Italian, formerly ‘rosato’ wines; so it looks like the French have won the day in terms of what we prefer to call pink wine, even if we’re not necessarily buying French rosé as our first choice. Maybe simply because there aren’t as many deals in the supermarkets, and e.g. Provence rosé producers don’t see any point in exporting their wine at silly prices when they can sell it to tourists at, well, silly prices?

Anyway, I had this theory, based on what’s widely available in the UK on the pink front, which I did a test-run on last week. In general, beyond France and Spain (and I’ve sampled a couple of good ones from Hungary recently), I’ve been a bit disappointed by rosés from the so-called ‘New World’ although found the Chilean ones among the best of the crop. My mini-tasting below is hardly set-in-stone conclusive, as I only tried rosés from Chile hence not comparative at all. But it wasn’t difficult to pick out a handful of attractive pink wines here, and lots of different styles as well. Is it the climate, winemaking know-how or that Spanish cultural twist perhaps? As for grape varieties, most Chilean rosé is made from ‘Bordeaux’ varieties, so not in the Mediterranean tradition although some are now using e.g. Syrah, Cinsault in the blends. Then again, I don’t think there’s much or any Grenache planted in Chile. Or should that be Garnacha…

Viña La Rosa ‘La Palma’ 2011 Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon – very lively vs creamy style with yeast-lees edges, tangy red berries with crisp gummy mouth-feel then nice fruity finish.
Indomita 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon – creamy vs redcurrant fruity, quite oily / oxidising already (could’ve been a tank sample like most of the 2011 rosés here).
Emiliana 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah – strange dusty/yeasty touches (ditto above), crisp tight palate with gentle fruit coming back. Needs to settle.
Cono Sur 2010 Merlot – attractive creamy style, quite rich vs cranberry fruit, ripe strawberry vs crisp and zesty vs quite big mouthful.
La Fonda ‘Fairtrade’ 2010 Merlot – tighter crisper style, leesy edges then ‘sweeter’ finish, oily touches vs still zingy.
Isla Negra Brut sparkling rosé – quite crisp and steely vs lightly toasty edges, not showing much although it was very cold, then nice ‘sweet’ raspberry fruit on the finish.
De Martino 2011 Cinsault (from old vines in Hata Valley in the south) – elegant crisp and tight style (more Provence-leaning), very young still, could be good in a few months time.
De Martino 2011 Carmenère – similar tank-sample notes, but this is again a nice steely tight style with subtle length. Check it out in a couple of months or so.
Apaltagna ‘gran Verano’ 2010 Carmenère – herby red pepper touches, creamier fruit on the palate, very different from the above, still tight and crisp.
Calcu ‘Reserva’ 2010 Malbec/Syrah/Petit Verdot – herby berry style, crunchy mouth-feel with attractive lighter and slightly ‘sweeter’ finish.
Viña Maquis 2010 (4 months in barrel) – structured rounded style although still has crisp bite vs those vanilla oak touches. Not for everybody but different anyway.
Morandé ‘Pionero’ 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah – oily maturing red fruits vs light and crisp mouth-feel, nice balance and style.
Santa Rita ‘120’ 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon – richer fruity style, quite big actually with some bite although perhaps looking a bit old now.
San Pedro ‘Gato Negro’ 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon – see previous post.
Leyda ‘Single Vineyard Loica’ 2009 Pinot Noir – tight fresh structured style vs creamy and subtle red fruit cocktail, concentrated even with steely finish; lovely. Winner of “Best Rosé” trophy in the 2011 Wines of Chile Awards. Profile on Leyda here.
Mayu 2010 Carmenere/Syrah (14%) - tasty full-bodied style mixing up rich red fruits and fresh acidity well, has a bit of oomph too so definitely a foodie rosé. On offer at Asda for £5.

Other UK/US prices and stockists to follow, where available.

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