“What Merlot lovers drank next” would be the title for a film about Carmenere. More redcurrant, spice and lift give this wine real character. It’s from one of Chile’s most historic producers and a brilliant discovery on The Wine Show
Situated in the Central Valle, just South of Santiago, Valle Hermoso is owned by Luis Felipe Edwards, one of the great names of the Chilean wine world. Vinas Luis Felipe Edwards dates back to 1976 and today is still family owned. They produce wines in most of the best terroirs in the country and have been awarded the Sommelier Awards New World Producer of the year in 2016.
We really loved this Carmenere! Clearly a more approachable Carmenere than some of the more European styles we tasted, we found this to be everything we wanted from Chile: warmth, intensity, richness and approachability. Rich dark fruit notes, chocolate and coffee aromas and a slight spiciness. Rich but balanced; we could be sipping on this wine till the early hours after a good barbecue party.
Maipo Valley is one of Chile’s most important wine-producing regions. Located just south of the capital, Santiago, Maipo Valley is home to some of the country’s most prestigious wines. It is often described as the ‘Bordeaux of South America’.
Carmenere is a dark-skinned grape variety originally from the vineyards of Bordeaux, which has found a particularly suitable home in Chile. A late-ripening variety, Carmenere needs high levels of sunshine and a warm summer to reach its full potential, but in the right environment it can produce fine, deeply coloured red wines, with the attractive meaty plumpness of Merlot and the gently herbaceous notes of Cabernet Sauvignon.
A warm wine with lots of fresh black fruit, it’s well balanced and contains hints of tobacco and vanilla flavours.
One of those Chilean wines that the world fell in love with in the 80’s. A fruity, curranty, mid-weight Cabernet that was all about the fruit, not a Quixotic journey to find a way of expressing the soil or the winemaker’s heritage in liquid form. It needs food to really flourish – I like pork dishes or my favourite Chorizo and Butter Bean stew. That hint of paprika spice has a complement in the wine’s finish.
For so long the poor ‘blending’ cousin of Cabernet Sauvignon in Bordeaux; here we get to see Cabernet Franc show off. It’s all raspberry and violet and warm pepper over a vibrant heart of currant. This is a firm, well-built wine. Match up with lamb dishes or even steak. Recently we served this with a delicious moussaka too.
Vibrant with lime-citrus aromas and the unmistakeable character of passionfruit, this wine’s refreshing zing lets you know that its grapes have been cooled by the bracing Humboldt current in the nearby pacific. Summer salads, lightly spiced seafood and grilled chicken are the best food matches.
What better way to discover Chile than taste your way through its styles and regions. Montes’ heartland is the warm Colchagua Valley with Cabernet and Malbec, but then see how cool Casablanca brings out the vibrancy of Sauvignon and elegance of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Then in the bowl-like Apalta vineyard, Montes embrace the future of Chile with a Carignan, Grenache, Mourvedre blend. Is the next chapter of Chile an homage to the Rhone?
I love this wine. It’s exactly what a Chilean Merlot should be, soft and rounded with a touch of capsicum (from the Merlot) and redcurrant (from being Chilean). There’s also the heritage of Bernardo O’Higgins and the ‘120’ in the wine’s cellar. Chill this slightly, and serve with light, informal dishes like a mid-week paella.
Here is one of the world’s great ‘icon’ wines, that deserves the title and is still within reach of mere mortals. A wine that changed our perceptions of Chilean wine forever. It remains true to its origins with a deftly crafted masterclass in pure Cabernet Sauvignon. Cassis, spice, cedar, toast and the capacity to age. Serve with something devastatingly simple like a roast Cote de Boeuf. Let the wine sing.
A luxuriously odd wine grown near some of Chile’s most famous thermal springs. This is a spicy, decadent, plummy wine from Petite Sirah, an unusal grape sometimes called Durif. If you’ve had a tannic, rough example before don’t be deterred. This is smokey, inviting and delicious and glorious with rich and spiced dishes.
Producers are becoming more confident with grape blends in Chile and this brings together the structure of Cabernet with the pepper of Shiraz. Gorgeous with spicier dishes, the Shiraz softens and sweetens the wine as well as giving it a peppery edge. Colchagua is warm and ensures this is ripe and lush through the finish.
Limari is a name to look for in Chile. It’s a desert province to the north, with almost no rain but cooling Pacific breezes. In some ways similar to Marlborough in New Zealand it makes similarly fresh whites (and Pinot Noir). This has a distinct mineral crispness perfect for salads. If you like your Chardonnay bright, you’ll love this.
It’s Chilean Cabernet, but not as we know it. This has an adventurous spirit, happy to move on from the clean, spick and span currant and mint of much Chilean Cab and let leathery notes come through. Roast leg lamb is the obvious choice although the wine maker made Joe eat it with roast lamb testicles.
Some wines are so much more than the sum of their flavours. Sure, this is packed with layers of captivating blueberry and bramble fruit wrapped in muscular tannins and rustic charm. But it’s impossible to enjoy with grilled meat without thinking of Don Nivaldo hand harvesting and producing this in his home.
A truly ‘hand-made’ wine. Don Nivaldo crushes his grapes through home-made equipment into barrels older than he is. But from a rustic grape, and rustic methods, emerge sublime wild fruit, delicate aromas and robust but yielding textures. Cook beef or lamb long and slow to make the most of this extraordinary wine.
The slightly wild, animal notes here are from fermenting the grapes with the wild yeasts rather than using carefully selected strains that give pure fruit. Aged in pre-Colombian cellars, this blends flavours of red berries and balsamic with a feral touch that makes for a perfect match to wild boar.
Is this one of the great wines of the world? Quite possibly. It needs time, but the early signs are looking good. Brainchild of Norwegian entrepreneur Alexander Vik, this incredible Chilean vineyard produces a wine that is beautifully balanced between dried fruit heft and elegant plum and currant freshness.
Across Chile, producers are proudly making serious wines to show off their terroir. This brooding, inky monster is the velvety champion of Maipo. Spice and cloves vie for attention with currants, plums and blackberry. It’s a big, bad-boy of a wine.
Cecelia Torres changed Chilean wine with her Casa Real, and here she makes it more affordable. A focused, concentrated-currant Cabernet Sauvignon blend from one of Chile’s best areas. Beautifully spiced too and wonderful with rich pasta dishes.
Merlot lovers adore the way this Carmenere shares the same velvety texture. What makes it distinctive is the spice and redcurrant and bright tang. That tang is what makes this such a fun wine to pair with food; I love it with Moroccan spiced beef and lamb.