Doug Sloan

Remarkable red wines from Chile

With all of its affordable quality red wines – wines so dependably good that we often take them for granted – Chile also offers exceptional wines at extraordinary prices. Don’t overlook them.

From north to south, Chile has diverse microclimates but in the Central Valley’s traditional wine regions, it is mainly temperate and Mediterranean.

Rains concentrate in winter and spring, with a long dry season that continues through autumn, making perfect growing conditions for wine grapes.

The Antares label was created for entry-level wines from Santa Carolina. They are young, attractive wines with a fruity taste that was honed to suit the taste of younger wine lovers exploring classic varietals.

Ripe fruit and careful winemaking are responsible for the rich, smooth style of Antares Shiraz (741520) $8.95. Spicy tree bark aromas slide into flavours of red and black berries and currants. Juicy blackberry and plum fruit flavours come together with silky tannins and classic Shiraz notes of pepper and spice.

The cold maritime Humboldt Current flowing north up the Pacific coast of Chile and the fresh breezes that descend from the mountains create a large temperature differential between day and night that allows the wine grapes to grow slowly and develop a full range of scent and flavour complexities.

An entry level red from Chile’s prolific Concha Y Toro S.A., Sendero Cabernet Sauvignon (384677) $9.00 delivers exceptional bang for the buck.  All blackcurrant fruit on the nose, it follows through with muted mint and peppery spice filling out the textbook blackcurrant fruit flavours.

With its potentially and comparatively delicate layers of aroma and flavour from violets through berries and green vegetables and herbs into spices, leather, roasted meats and a mushroom and truffle kind of medley often described as “forest floor” – Pinot Noir is much more about subtlety than sheer power.

Proof positive that there isn`t a red wine grape that can`t flourish in Chile, Cono Sur Organic Pinot Noir (77644) $13.70 is very much a textbook New World Pinot Noir – with that elusive scent of fresh cut beets over dark cherry and jammy strawberry flavours and that “tree bark” liquorice twist of fresh leathery tobacco leaf. Great sipped solo, this is also marvellous with barbequed salmon, chicken and pork.

Caliterra was established in 1996 as a partnership between the Robert G. Mondavi family and Viña Errázuriz, who sought to realize their shared dream of producing high quality wines that reflect the potential of the Chilean nature, terroir and fruit.

An affordable medium-bodied red, Caliterra Carmenère Cabernet Sauvignon (742304) $13.95 is a blend of 58 per cent Carmenère and 42 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon. Ready to serve at any barbecue it features flavours of wild berries, blackberries, spice and smoke. Hints of green bell pepper and mocha cappuccino linger in the finish.

At the tax-excluded price point of around $20, the wines of Chile become fantastic values, compared with comparably priced wines from anywhere. Far from fine and friendly sippers, these more serious red wines really deliver.

Lapostolle was founded by Alexandra Marnier Lapostolle and her husband Cyril de Bournet in 1994. The Marnier Lapostolle family, founders and owners of the world-renowned liqueur Grand Marnier, is famous for producing spirits and liqueurs, but the family has also been involved in winemaking for generations.

Astonishingly elegant, Lapostolle Gran Selección Cabernet Sauvignon (398800) $22.99 is a blend of 85 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon, 8 per cent Syrah, 5 per cent Petit Verdot and 2 per cent Cabernet Franc. Ripe plum, black cherry and blackcurrant aromas and flavours simply sizzle out of the glass.

Before devising their Caliterra line Robert Mondavi and Eduardo Chadwick pioneered one of Chile’s first international joint ventures – Sena. They set a very challenging goal: to reach the full potential of Chile’s wine country and to create a truly world-class wine.

Sena  (413971) $135.09 is an authentic Chilean blend made from the finest Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot varieties. A dark ruby-red color with violet highlights, it is intense on the nose, with abundant fresh red and black fruit – raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries. The red fruit stands out on the palate, nicely accompanied by sweet spice. Well rounded and silky tannins this is an exceptionally complex wine with outstanding structure and balance.

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