Chile warms up Christmas

Helen Coburn highlights some of her favourite Chilean choices
Helen Coburn highlights some of her favourite Chilean choices

Helen Coburn outlines some mid-priced and premium Chilean wines, ideal for Christmas dining and gifts



11 December 2014

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Wines from Chile will be among top picks for Irish consumers this Christmas and not just at the budget end of the market. In the run up to Christmas, Chilean makers staged several events for press and public, focusing on mid-priced and premium wines, perfect for Christmas dining and gifts.

A tasting by San Pedro group, whose wines are available from Dunnes, O’Briens and Spar, showed an impressive line up. While the producers were eager to highlight regional differences in Chilean wine, the writers and traders present were also firmly directed toward the value offered in the various price categories. At €12, Castillo de Molina Casablanca Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (Dunnes) had a streak of Sancerre-like Bramley apple and gooseberry, and good length too. If you prefer riper New Zealand styles, Vina Leyda Reserva 2014 (O’Briens) might be for you, laden as it was with tasty lemon and lime flavours with a hint of tropical fruits.

Pinot noir is one of Chile’s big stories right now and there were several at affordable prices. Good value was Santa Helena Vernus Casablanca Pinot Noir 2013 (Spar/Mace €15), with its easy going summer fruits yet decent tannins. Edging it into overall second place, however, was Vina Leyda Single Vineyard Cahuil 2013 (O’Briens €19), which had elegant summer fruit and alcohol which, at 14.5%, was still in balance with the palate. This would be perfect with turkey and goose.

There were several syrahs. Castilla de Molina Maule 2013 (Dunnes, €12) was great value, with tasty plum and damson hints. If you love Northern Rhone wines but find them pricey you’d be very happy with Vina Leyda Reserva Syrah 2012; it’s got those classic black olive and damson notes underpinning smooth plum and all for just €13.99 (O’Briens). If you prefer a more opulent, spicy Australian shiraz, you could choose 1865 Single Vineyard Cachapoal Syrah 2012, which has lots of ripe plum and berry flavours and a touch of coconut spice.

Still on Chilean pinot, Cono Sur winemaker, Adolfo Hurtado, was also in town. He’s been working seriously on pinot noir for about 20 years and for about 10 years Cono Sur has been producing a range of pinots from good value entry point to classic styles.

One interesting aspect of the Cono Sur tasting was the differences between vintages. Ocio Pinot Noir 2012 was high in alcohol at 14.5%, flavours were of ripe plum rather than summer fruits, and the wine was more crowd pleasing than subtle. At 14% alcohol, Ocio 2011 was decidedly more restrained, with summer berry flavours and a hint of blackcurrant. It was easily guessed that this was a slightly cooler vintage with longer ripening time. The mid range 20 Barrels Pinot 2012 was surprisingly classic. The nose had some spicy notes leading to flavours of summer fruit, with decent tannins and finish. Good value for money and, for Christmas parties, don’t overlook the tasting Bicyclette entry point Pinot Noir 2013.

Cono Sur wines are imported by Findlaters and also available at Tesco and other outlets starting at around €10.



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