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SWA 2011: NEW WORLD - CABERNET SAUVIGNON - MERLOT & CABERNET FRANC - CHILE

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot & Cabernet Franc: Chile
Astonishing value for money from the Chileans, as you’d expect, but not enough wines with the wow factor

The Bordeaux blends section of the New World remains a huge category – the single
biggest part of the SWAs after House Wines – and a reflection of the fact that Cabernet remains the red grape de choix for the majority of non-European wineries.

Around half of all the entries this year came from Chile, so as well as splitting the
wines up by region to taste them, we’ve also separated the results off into ‘Chile’ and
‘The Rest Of The New World’ to make them easier to follow.

Chile is, of course, best known for its ability to knock out value for money, and
the overwhelming majority of wines here were hugely affordable. This is much to
the Chileans’ credit, but to have only four wines sent in over £10 was still surprising,
given that this is usually the wineries’ trophy grape varietal.

In other words, if Chile was going to show a bit of ambition anywhere, you might
think it would be here.

Perhaps the Chileans aren’t convinced that the top-end stuff is what they do best,
which on this evidence would be about right. The most expensive wine to pick up
a medal was Carmen’s Cabernet Reserva at £8.19, with none of the over-£10 wines
doing anything. It meant that this was a very tightly compacted, as well as astonishingly well-priced, range of wines.

Well priced but not, for the most part, terribly exciting. Words like ‘fruit-driven’, ‘rounded’ and ‘safe’ were bandied around by the tasters, who struggled to detect any great sense of place, despite the wines being flighted according to different valleys.

‘There were some good-value wines here at the lower price end, showing drinkability, with good fruit and balance,’ said Nigel Lister. ‘But at the higher prices the wines
became dense and tannic with a lot of oak, and I would probably look to Europe for
a finer quality in the wines.’

Having said that, it’s hard to argue with some of the price-to-quality ratios on offer
here, with Concha y Toro particularly impressive, picking up two Silvers for one wine under a fiver and one at £6.50.

“I found some good value at the cheaper end, with fruity, accessible styles. Some of the more expensive wines were too young and were not balanced. ”
Kyri Sotiri, The Soho Wine Supply


GOLD LIST

Torreon de Paredes Reserva Privada Merlot 2007, Cachapoal Valley, Chile
£8.17 @ Forth Wines
SWA 2011 Gold List An appealingly complex nose of leafy notes alongside cassis and chocolate precede a finely balanced palate full of soft, silky tannins. ‘Leather and red fruit with a good use of oak, this nice, juicy style is quite elegant,’ said Mikaël Hannequin.

SILVER

Trio Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, Maipo Valley, Chile
£4.92 @ Concha y Toro UK
Modern and great value for money, this has intense, ripe black fruit flavours alongside hints of spicy oak. ‘This full-on style of red shows a nice expression of black fruit, molasses and toastiness,’ said Mikaël Hannequin.

Trio Merlot 2010, Rapel Valley, Chile
£4.92 @ Concha y Toro UK
More good value with this fruity, blackcurrant-fuelled wine, with its bright, long, juicy palate. ‘This has a juicy, savoury profile, relieved by a little freshness,’ said Team Leader Sarah Jane Evans MW.

Carmen Merlot Reserva 2009, Colchagua Valley, Chile
£5.95 @ Hallgarten Druitt
Spicy and peppery, with simple blackcurrant flavours, fine structure and a juicy finish. ‘Good varietal expression with long length,’ said Philippe Moranges. ‘This is a good food wine,’ said Roberto Loppi.

Marques de Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, Maipo Valley, Chile
£6.50 @ Concha y Toro UK
While some found it attractively focused, others deemed it closed. Whichever way you jump, this Cabernet Franc offers fine, ripe dark fruit in a structured fashion with mint and chocolate notes. Certainly tannic, one for food and to watch how it evolves.

BRONZE 

Morande Alameda Merlot 2010, Rapel Valley, Chile
£4.58 @ Bottle Green
Fruit-driven and plummy, with intense cassis fruit, according to Team Leader Jamie Goode. ‘This is fresh, fruity and pure in a very nice, open style,’ he said.

Errazuriz 1870 Merlot 2010, Curico Valley, Chile
£5.18 @ Hatch Mansfield
Great value, this fruit-driven Merlot is currently showing plenty of sweet red fruit and blackcurrants, with smooth tannins, a smoky edge and a nice balance. ‘Bright and juicy,’
said Sarah Jane Evans MW.

Morande Pionero Merlot 2010, Rapel Valley, Chile
£5.48 @ Bottle Green
Juicy and bright on the palate with plenty of good, sweet fruit following a nose imbued with eucalyptus and spicy notes.

Koyle Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, Colchagua Valley, Chile
£5.75 @ Genesis Wines
Chocolatey with intense dark fruit flavours on both nose and palate, plus some spicy oak and sweet vanilla. ‘Tar and leather aromas,’ noted Sarah Jane Evans MW.

Sibarita’s Merlot 2009, Central Valley, Chile
£6.30 @ Hallgarten Druitt
With a fine balance between its oak and the fleshy, black fruits, this wine has a good density and, according to Frédéric Billet, would be perfect with rib-eye steak.

Perez Cruz Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2009, Maipo Alto, Chile
£6.44 @ Novum Wines
With attractive cassis notes on the nose, this is has an appealing depth of sweet fruit on the palate with some richness and a little smokiness. ‘Mint, blackcurrant and oak,’ noted Philippe Moranges.

Chono Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, Maipo Valley, Chile
£6.88 @ Patriarche Wine Agencies
An elegant wine, with violet and cassis aromas, grainy tannins and depth. ‘Ripe, juicy and spicy with lots of full-on flavour,’ said Jamie Goode. ‘Tasty.’

Chilcas Organic Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Maule Valley, Chile
£7.11 @ Bibendum
Plenty of complexity for the money, with dark berry fruits, concentrated, tight tannins, a touch of spice and good length. ‘Bright and lively on the palate,’ said Sarah Jane Evans MW. ‘Just a tad tough and dry.’

Carmen Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2009, Colchagua Valley, Chile
£8.19 @ Hallgarten Druitt
Smoky chocolate notes on top of cassis with pencil shaving to add to the mix, this shows good freshness with juicy tannins. ‘Smooth and mellow,’ said Olivier Gasselin. ‘Nicely balanced and quite sophisticated,’ added Jamie Goode.


Editorial feature from Imbibe Magazine – May/June 2011

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