By Rose Murray Brown MW Published in The Scotsman 22 February 2020
We all love a wine bargain – and Chile really knows how to deliver on price, fruit and overall drinkability. It was hard to pick just a dozen wines – but these are my favourite twelve:
White: EXQUISITE LEYDA VALLEY RESERVA SAUVIGNON BLANC 2018 (13%)
Very hard to beat this zesty juicy fresh Sauvignon Blanc on price – it hails from the coastal Leyda valley which was just barren farmland 25 years ago. Now Leyda’s cool breezy vineyards are producing crisp Sauvignons with vibrant crunchy green apple fruits.
Red: IRRESISTIBLE CASABLANCA VALLEY PINOT NOIR 2018 (14%) ***STAR VALUE***
I have written about this fabulous bargain in previous vintages; yet again in 2018 the Co-op buyers have managed to pull off another irresistible value buy. Such a delicious easy-drinking Chilean Pinot with a distinct sweetness with pure raspberry fruits, cherry undertones, soft tannins, hints of oak and a fabulous smooth finish.
Sparkling: SANTA DIGNA ESTELADO TRADITIONAL METHOD ROSE NV (12%)
£10.99 -£12.99 House of Townend; Roberts & Speight; www.thedrinkshop.com
Award-winning fizz made from the much spurned Pais grape, also known as the Mission grape – the first grape to be planted in Chile in C16 when grapes arrived from the Canary Islands via Mexico. Pretty blush pink, bright raspberry fruits, soft, silky smooth and great value – made by the legendary Miguel Torres.
White: ECHEVERRIA GRAN RESERVA CURICO VALLEY CHARDONNAY 2018 (13.5%)
£10.49 Strictly Wine
From the charming Eccheverria family based in Molina in Curico, about 200km south of the capital Santiago, who only use their own estate grapes rather than buying in grapes from growers. This is their popular oaked Chardonnay with rich apricot notes with fig and toffee undertones.
Red: MONTES RESERVA MALBEC 2017 (14%) ***STAR VALUE***
£7.99/£9.99 Majestic Wine
Hard to beat this little beauty on price. We normally head to Argentina or France for our Malbec, but it can grow just as well in Chile’s premium red wine region, Colchagua valley, which has got remarkably old Malbec vines – some aged over 100 years old. Matured for just 6 months in French oak, it has gorgeously ripe plum, damson and blackcurrant notes with dark chocolate and savoury undertones.
Red: CASAS DEL BOSQUE RESERVA PINOT NOIR 2017 (14%)
£12.49/£13.99 The Wine Reserve; Stroud Wine
Another of my favourite wineries, this is a great value example of a cool climate Pinot Noir from Casablanca Valley – one of the first areas to be developed in the 1980s. Very ripe upfront black cherry fruits, earthy notes and long finish.
Red: UNDURRAGA ‘TH’ CARIGNAN 2016 (14%) ***STAR BUY***
£12.95 reduced from £14.50 The Wine Society
The Spanish Carignan grape has never been very trendy, but old vines in Chile’s lesser-known Maule region planted in the early 1940s are really starting to shine. Blackcurrant and violet notes, soft silky palate, vivid freshness with smoky oak notes from part ageing in barriques and large oak foudres. Surprisingly popular with tasters, some of whom had never tasted Carignan before.
£25 AND UNDER
White: DE MARTINO SAUVIGNON BLANC ‘PARCELA 5’ 2017 (13.5%) ***STAR BUY***
£19.99 Hic Winemerchants; £22.95 Berry Bros & Rudd
The best Chilean Sauvignon I have tasted. Made by brothers Sebastian and Marco de Martino who run my current favourite Chilean winery – producing an outstanding range of organic wines. This limited edition wine comes from a granite-based vineyard in the coolest part of Casablanca Valley about 20km from the Pacific: thrilling fresh pure fruits, herby notes, minerality and full of complexity and flavour.
Red: ABOLENGO CARMENERE SYRAH 2016
£15.50 Lea & Sandeman
From a small little-known winery in Cachapoal valley run by the Irarrazaval family, this is artisan winemaking at its best from Abolengo. Gloriously chunky ripe spicy blend of 60% Carmenere and 40% Syrah – showing Carmenere’s characteristic balsamic notes with underlying sweetness.
Red: LONGAVI GLUP CINSAULT 2017 (12.5%) ***STAR BUY***
£18.99-£19.95 St Andrews Wine Co; House of Townend
Cinsault is not always to everyone’s taste, but Longavi seems to have pulled off a real beauty here from trendy southerly Itata valley. Beautiful bright cherry and raspberry fruits, tarry undertones with soft voluptuous palate. Naturally made – using minimal intervention by Chilean Julio Bouchon and South African David Nieuwoudt of Cederberg.
Red: MONTES OUTER LIMITS COOL CLIMATE SYRAH 2017 (14%)
£18.50 Fine Wine Musselburgh; £19 Waitrose
From a tiny hectarage of Syrah grown 7km from the Pacific in coastal Zapallar in Aconcagua Valley near the famous port of Valparaiso on clay loam granite-based soils. Syrah has only been grown in Chile since 1995, but it is showing great potential. This lightly oaked, violet scented, sour cherry fruits, sweet spicy undertones with vivid crunchy acid and good structure.
Red: COUSINO MACUL FINIS TERRAE 2013 (14%)
£25 Good Spirits Co; House of Townend; Field & Fawcett
From historic Cousino Macul – the only C19 winery in Chile still in the hands of the original family. Finis Terrae is a superb blend of Maipo-grown 75% Cabernet Sauvignon with 25% Merlot matured in French oak – as slick and polished as any Chilean blend. Lovely plummy fruitcake aromas, cedary and herby with an earthy undertones.
Join Rose’s Fine German Wine: Mosel v Rhine Tasting on Thursday 19 March in Edinburgh £45 www.rosemurraybrown.com