WineWriting.com & French Mediterranean Wine
Richard Mark James' wine and travel blog

29 April 2014

Chile: Cabernet Sauvignon

In a similar vein to my piece on Cabernet from Argentina (goes there) posted at the end of last year, Merlot, Carmenere and now Syrah and Pinot have perhaps become Chile's most fashionable varietal darlings. But there's still a lot of vinous enjoyment to be had from wines made solely or mostly from Cabernet Sauvignon; and occasionally more than mere enjoyment, as in fact some of Chile's best reds are crafted from Cab or Cab blends. Here's a gratuitous 'top ten' then (actually, "this one goes to 11...") that have come my wine-way in recent-ish times. By the way, when I say cassis as in French for blackcurrant, I'm not trying to be pretentious (aside the simple fact of having two wine blogs, which is a bit pretentious); I simply mean a riper fruit style than typical 'crunchy' blackcurrant, say, more like, well erm, crème de cassis I suppose. In any case, it's just too subjective all this currant vs cherry vs berry jargon...

Errazuriz - Aconcagua Valley
Max Reserva 2010 - smoky and perfumed nose showing ripe cassis, dark cherry/berry and liquorice too; firm textured palate yet nicely balanced with all that fruit as well, attractive style. £10
Don Maximiano Founder's Reserve 2008 (80% Cabernet Sauvignon + Petit Verdot, Cab Franc & Syrah) - quite a bit of smoky/toasty oak at first vs rich dark berry and liquorice fruit, extracted chunky mouth-feel with chocolate texture vs concentrated, serious wine turning slightly savoury on the finish yet still young and structured too. Expensive but it's their "icon" red: £45.
UK: The Drink Shop, Waitrose, Wine Rack and independent merchants. US: Vintus, NY.

Cono Sur - Maipo Valley
Single Vineyard El Recurso Block 18 2011 - lush cassis fruit, concentrated and chunky with firm and extracted mouth-feel, plenty of nice fruit. Good stuff. Their site matches this slightly chef-y dish with it: Pork Tenderloin with Caramelized Onions and Mushroom Quinoa. US: Vineyard Brands.

Cimarosa - Maule Valley

Cuvée Especial 2011 "Winemaker's Selection by Claudio Villouta" (Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Petit Verdot, Syrah; 13.5% abv) - cedar notes vs spicy red pepper vs cassis/damson/black cherry/kirsch; quite powerful with aromatic fruit vs smoky savoury edges, nice mouthful of ripe vs crunchy fruit, a touch of chocolatey texture with grip and structure, the oak is well done though and overall it's well-balanced. Good value. Lidl UK £7.99

Morandé - Maipo Valley
Gran Reserva 2010 (14.5% abv) - complex, lightly 'reductive' even (when I tried it) perfumed cassis on the nose, tasty fruit on the palate with nice grip and subtle oak, tight structured dry finish vs attractive lingering sweet/floral fruit. UK £10 TheDrinkShop.com, US $18.50-$20 Saratoga Wine Exchange, Cedar Green Wine and others.

La Porta - Aconcagua Valley
Reserva 2012 - nice crunchy blackcurrant with darker lusher fruit underneath, has a touch of grip on the palate, subtle and quite tasty wine. UK £6, US $9 Total Wine & More.
Gran Reserva 2011 - shows hints of cedar-y oak on the nose, firmer and more concentrated than the Reserva with dark berry fruit and solid tight finish; softens up a little once it opens up revealing more. $16


Cremaschi Furlotti - Loncomilla Valley (Maule)
Edición Limitada de Familia 2011 (Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Syrah) - creamy vs perfumed and crunchy berry, again nice fruit (like their single vineyard Cab) vs firm yet supple tannins, spicier and more savoury finish (that's enough contradictions...). Dangerous Wine Group Washington DC $23, Denmark €25.

Carmen - Maipo Valley
Gold Reserve 2009 - attractive cassis/blackcurrant fruit, quite extracted yet concentrated, maturing and turning savoury vs still pretty firm mouth-feel but there's nice lingering fruit. Silly price though: Ace Spirits $48, GetWineOnline $40+tax; £41-£45 TheDrinkShop.com, Corking Wines.

Indomita - Maipo Valley
Gran Reserva 2012 - crunchy vs ripe cassis and lively berry fruit too with sweet herb undertones, firm and chunky vs nice fruity style, has a bit of depth too. £8-£9 Connolly's, Cambridge Wine, Elwood Wines.
Quintus organic 2012 - similar although a touch riper sweeter fruit perhaps, fairly intense dark berry fruit, structured powerful and solid vs attractive dried fruit finish. Good wine. €12-€13 Wijnvoordeel Netherlands, Bourse du Vin Belgium, Weinversand Germany.
Some of the prices and stockists quoted were found on www.wine-searcher.com

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