Chile. Copa America Campeones in Red.A High-scoring Quartet
La Poda Corta El Grano Carménère 2013 (Curico Valley, Chile), 13%, €13.85 Le Caveau
Colour is a bright and healthy medium red. Ripe fruit aromas. Deliciously smooth on the palate, subtle fruit, smooth tannins, some slight spice, long and pleasant finish.
You don't come across this grape every day and this expression by Denis Duveau (who sold up his vineyard in the Loire in 1991 and headed off to South America) is something else, the wine pleasant and easily digestible. And Very Highly Recommended.
Like Duveau, this grape originally came from France (Bordeaux) before losing its way and even its identity in unruly Chilean vineyards. Was it Cabernet or was it Merlot? Only in relatively recent times, the late 90s, has it been recognized for what it is. Now it is the signature red grape of Chile which produces the vast majority of Carménère wines available today. Carménère may have had a tough life but has rebounded well and the wines are not lacking in personality.
Aresti Special Release Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2012 (Colchagua Valley, Chile), 13.5%, €12.99 SuperValu
Aresti is a leading winery in Chile, also a leader in the move to organic. Winemaker Jon Usabiaga is highly respected and is a regular visitor to Ireland.
Emiliana Organic Eco Balance Cabernet Sauvignon (Valle del Rapel, Chile) 2013, 13.5%, €12.95 Bradley’s Offlicence
This ruby red is a beauty. There is something about organic, its sheer freshness and, as Pascal of Le Caveau often says, “digestibility”. The winemakers themselves say they “have created a collection of quality wines for relaxed everyday enjoyment, integrity, sustainability, and an earth friendly focus inspires all we can do.”
The nose is complex, red and darker fruits, vanilla, a little drift of pepper. There is an intense flow of flavour, smooth, with quite fine tannins, a lighter experience than the Aresti, this is a superb wine with a velvety and persistent finish. Again, Very Highly Recommended.
Luis Philipe Edwards Family Selection Pinot Noir Gran Reserva 2012 (Leyda Valley, Vhile), 14%, €9.99 O’Donovan’s Off Licence
Red Fruit aromas here, hints too of vanilla. Tannins are soft and you have quite intense fruit characters here - it has spent time in French oak “to considerably increase complexity and texture”. The mature fruit flavours are nicely balanced by the refreshing acidity and there is a lingering finish.
Thanks to cool ocean breezes, the grapes ripen slowly and freshness is retained. A Highly Recommended wine and good value also.
The company, founded in 1976, has expanded hugely in recent years and, according to the Wines of South America “claims to be the largest family-owner wine company in Chile”. And their website proclaims that in 2014, they were “the most awarded winery in Chile” with no less than 130 international medals to their credit.
* Speaking of champions, perhaps the best red wine that I've tasted from Chile is Cono Sur's Ocio Pinot Noir. But it will cost you, more than double the price of any of the above! And I usually try to keep my recommendations between ten and twenty five euro.