Tasting the wines of Chile

These notes accompany our in-depth feature following a visit to Chile. For profiles of all of these estates please see Regional report: Chile in-depth.


See current stockists of Valdivieso on wine-searcher

Valdivieso (Chile) Sauvignon Blanc 2006
As always, Brett gets a pungent, Marlborough-style vegetal note to his Sauvignon, with plenty of green bean and herbal notes, and hints of tropical, pineapple fruit. On the palate plenty of sweet, ripe fruit, with very nice texture and richness, and fine lemony acidity, with lots of passionfruit and tropical notes, but retaining bite and freshness.

Valdivieso (Chile) Sauvignon Blanc Casablanca Reserva 2006
Lots more phenolic, asparagus and vegetal aromas, with green beans and dry fruity quality. Less tropical, with more of the vibrant, cool, Marlborough-style character.

Valdivieso (Chile) Malbec 2005
Rich, dry, bramble and cedary character, with good fruit on the palate, lots of rich, mouthfilling black fruit. Lovely quality here.

Valdivieso (Chile) Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
A touch of cedar and a touch of green character, but lovely richness of fruit in the mouth. Develops a little chocolate and nice tannic background.

Valdivieso (Chile) Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2004
Mostly Maipo fruit, 12 months in barrique. A lot of menthol and almost eucalypt character, with very fine blackcuranty fruit and a lovely sweetness on the palate. Quite dry on the mid-palate, with an inky density, but that palate coating, rich, quite extracted black fruit coats the tongue. Becomes more chocolaty and plummy. Lovely quality.

Valdivieso (Chile) Carmenere reserve 2005
The first year Brett has made this wine, it has been developing and now he is happy he has the quality. Has that tell-tale smoky, slightly dusty quality of Carmenere, there is a touch of hollowness perhaps, but fruit comes through and this finishes with good power and fruit.

Valdivieso (Chile) Cabernet Franc Single Vineyard 2004
Rich, smoky, almost toffeed plushness, with very sweet, vanillin quality to the oak. Lots of chocolate and raisiny intensity, with currant and blueberry richness to the fruit. Violetty sweetness and aromatic intensity. Lovely.

Valdivieso (Chile) Caballo Loco No 8
Lovely aromatics, lots of cedar and Sandalwood, with very refined black fruits and a real sense of elgance. On the palate this has fine, racy, elegantly definted black fruit with a real black cherry bite, plenty of crispness and vibrancy with fine tannins and good acidity, but a silky, mouthfilling txture and compsed fruit quality.

Valdivieso (Chile) Eclat 2004
Mostly 80-year-old Maule Carignan with Syrah. Fine, rich, ripe black fruit, and very ripe and dark without being jammy. Very fine, coats the palate with a hint of raspberry and cherry brightness and biting acidity, and then that infill of broader, juicier blackcurrant and racy, fine tannins gives a full, but nicely delineated and easy to drink quality.

Valdivieso (Chile) Plenus 2002
Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec, this is a wine I tasted with Brett from barrel in 2002, when it was as yet unnamed, but of superb quality. Now, after four more years in barrel, it is meaty, rich and full, with very plush, concentrated aromatics and flavours. The palate it just flooded with plum and mulberry and suede-like texcture of fine, solid black fruit. Beautifully plush tannins. Fantastic quality and very fine, rolling, tobacco-tinged character. Outstanding

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San Pedro

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San Pedro (Chile) Castillo de Molina Sauvignon Blanc 2006
All cool vineyeard fruit, including 3% Casblanca, 12% Leyda, 85% from Elque valley to the far north near the Atacama dessert. Quite green and asparagus-like, with a vegetal, nettly streak. A nicely underripe character, with a dry, bay leaf note. Lemony, green-streak to the fruit, but bottled just 10 ago so may be a little shocked. Seems very vibrant beneath.

San Pedro (Chile) Castillo de Molina Chardonnay 2006
Also bottled only one week. 70% femented and aged in oak, 30% stainless steel. All Casablanca fruit. Quite a bright, verfy fruity nose, with lots of pear and melon fruit. Very clean. A little phenolic bite on the paate, with an edge to quite skinny, lemon and orange fruit, with just a small almond note of oak in the finish.

San Pedro (Chile) Castillo de Molina Pinot Noir 2005
Rather nutty, earthy character, with plenty of oak (French and a little American oak for one year, 25% new). Cherry and raspberry fruit comes through. Has so much overlay of oak at present that it is hard to taste. Bright and focused, with plenty of acidity and firm, crisp tannins. A real orangy tang.

San Pedro (Chile) Castillo de Molina Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
Big, sweet, creamy mint humbug nose with very ripe fruit and plenty of American oak influence. Only bottled One month. Most fruit from the home Curico vineyard. Very nice fruit quality, with plenty of cassis and a creamy, dusty, bittersweet black cherry character. (50/50 US and French oak). Nice structured finish with a roughening edge of tannins, but balanced and juicy.

San Pedro (Chile) 1865 Syrah 2005
18 months in French oak, half new and half used. Dusty, creamy, quite ceadary character. Blackcurrant and raspberry notes. On the palate creamy black fruit, with a certain cedary spice. Creamy and cool fruit, plenty of concentration. Becomes quite chocolaty in the finish. Nicely made.

San Pedro (Chile) Cabo de Hornos Cabernet Sauvignon 2002
One and a half years in bottle. 100% Cabernet from 60-year-old vines. All French oak, with a lovely toast and cedary finesse. Racy, fine pencil shaving blackcurrant fruit. Very nice quality on the palate: concentrated without being harsh or over-extracted. Big, dry, but supple tannins and mouth-coating texture. Very impressive in a big style, but with balance. Excellent. Will be around $35 US.

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See current stockists of Aresti on wine-searcher

Aresti (Chile) Winemakers’ Sauvignon Blanc 2005
100% Leyda valley fruit, ‘Winemakers’ is second top of the Aresti range, just below Family Resreve. There is one white and one red in this range, and the blend might change each year to reflect the best wine of that year. This has a tropical character to the fruit, with nice sweetness and richness, pineapple and just a touch of herbal background. It is dry and has a ripeness of pear and apple, with some juicier orange and nectarine notes. There is a spiciness, with a tangy mandarin finish.

Espiritu de Chile (Chile) Carmenere 2005
The Aresti name does not appear on label of this brand, which is an easy drinking style focused on the UK and German retail trade. Starting 2006, it is imported into the UK by Thierry’s. Bright and smoky fruit character, with a small percentage of oak treatment (staves). Nice fruit expression – quite rounded and ripe, with that smokiness and spice running through, and a crisp cherry acidity abit of grip. They expect this to sell at around £4.99, with £3.99 possible to promote it.

Espiritu de Chile (Chile) Cabernet Sauvignon Grand Reserve 2003
15% Carmenere in the blend, this reserve wine will be priced at £6.99. Very minty and chocolaty Cabernet, with plush, spicy chocolate and rich berry character. Very flattering and commercial. Mouthfilling, with a cool, creamy cassis character and plenty of spicy oak coming through. Sweet fruit, but enough acidity though it is soft and in the background.

Espiritu de Chile (Chile) Merlot Grand Reserve 2003
Big, creamy, vanillin and chocolate nose with lots of taosty oak. A thick mulberry and spiced plum fruit quality. In the mouth it is big and spicy, with lots of rich, chocolaty plum and spice fruit that fills the mouth, Nice structure here and texture. Good length and very plush and long.

Aresti (Chile) Carmenere Reserva 2004
30% new oak, mainly American. Winemaker suggests this will need 3 to 4 years in cellar. Slightly baked, leathery quality. A very solid blue/black fruit quality, but lacks some of the characteristic Carmenere fragrance? Good, solid fruity palate, with a creamy texture and decent balance, but doesn’t finish as harmoniously for me. Available in the UK on-trade only (restaurants, bars, etc.)

Aresti (Chile) Merlot Reserva 2004
Slightly green quality on the nose, with pepper and spices. Again that slightly baked, leathery quality comes though, with a slightly hollow feel. Slightly hollow on the palate too perhaps, though a cool, minty fruitiness comes through.

Aresti (Chile) Family Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2000
A touch of more dank, vegetal character that adds interest, with cedary qualities and a rich, dark berry character. On the palate lovely supple qualities, with softness and smokiness, and the crisp, balanced quality of fruit, and very good length. Nice and spicy and good fruit quality here.VCEry nice On-trade only, but should be around £12.

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Millaman, Curico

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Millaman (Chile) Estate Chardonnay 2006
85% of the grapes come from Millaman’s home estate, 15% from Santa Cruz, and only 10% of the blend is aged in second-use French barriques. Lovely balance of tropical, ripe, pineapple fruit with a much fresher, jucier citrus. This has very good palate weight, with a racy, cool fruit quality, but very ripe and full, and with fine balance.

Millaman (Chile) Shiraz Malbec Reserva 2004
50/50 blend Syrah and Malbec, from Curico and Maipo. Shiraz is grown on trellis with drip irrigation, Malbec on old flood-irrrigated trellises, planted in 1939. The wine sees 12 months in oak, 85% French. Beautifully appealing, deep-fruited nose, with rich, mulberry and cassis fruit and plenty of spice. There are lovely violetty and super-ripe, creamy fruit notes. In the mouth this has plenty of richness and depth, with jammy, full fruit and plenty of smooth, unctuous depth.

Millaman (Chile) Carmenere Reserva 2003
15% Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend. 85% from San Clemenete, 15% from Curico. 100% matured in French and American barriques. Green pepper and spices on the nose, with a dusty, smoky quality. Some leathery notes to solid black fruit. Juicy and fresh on the palate, with lovely fruit. Becomes quite fine and cedary, with very nice savoury fruit and oak quality, a nicely grippy tanninc edge and good acidity. Very fine indeed.

Millaman (Chile) Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec Reserva 2004
60/40 blend from 100% Curico fruit, the Malbec trellised in 1939, the Cabernet Sauvignon 1954, both with flood irrigation. This wine sepnds 12 months oak, 70% of it French. Lovely minty quality on the nose, with tight, muscular aromatics of black fruit and tight, leather and coffeeish oak. On the palate it is tight too, with a supple, dry, savoury fruit quality, but very nice, supple, fine tannins and a bite of plum and plumskin acidity.

Millaman (Chile) Zinfandel Reserva 2005
5% each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot join the Zinfandel in this blend, aged 12 months in barrique, mostly American, but also some French. A very aromatic red, with distinct quince jelly notes, and lots of old rose and floral qualities. Plenty of toast, and spice too and rich, red fruit character. On the palate lovely raspberry and bright cherry and red fruits, with a soft fudge and chocolaty background, and quite an expansive, mouthfilling fruit quality. Very interesting zesty finish is juicy and moreish.

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Via (Chile) Agua Fresca Sauvignon Blanc 2006
Lovely vegetal nose, with fine, vivid aromatics and punchy fruit character. Lots of tropical notes, and plenty of gooseberry and elderflower perfume. Good fruit: very fresh and vivid fruit, with gooseberry and plenty of crisp, citrussy fruit too. Nice length.

Via (Chile) Rui Azul Chardonnay 2006
30% barrel fermented. Candy floss, softly vanillin nose, with orchard fruit character. This retains lots of freshness and a really nice lemony core of fruit, with fine wrappijng of nutty, more tropical richness. Lovely balance and weight here.

Via (Chile) Piedra Feliz Pinot Noir 2005
From Chilcas estate vineyard. There is soft, fine strawberry fruit. Ed vinifies the wine mostly in closed tanks with punch-down, as this is a more aggressive technique to overcome quite fierce tannins in this fruit. 10 months in all French barriques. Lots of vanilla and soft, sheen of oak over soft red berry fruit. Good quality fruit here and a nice Pinot expression.

Via (Chile) Chilcas Red One 2005
50% Syrah, 18% Cabernet, 18% Malbec and a little Petiti Verdot. A soft bramble character, with an earthy note too and plenty of spice (12 months in 50/50 French and American). Beautifully mouthfilling fruit, with savoury, cedary character and plenty of spice. 5% of 2006 Syrah blended in to add a little freshness. Very fine quality with a rich, tangy finish.

Via (Chile) Tierra Oscura Cabernet Franc 2005
Ed has expermineted with Aconcagua Cabernet Franc, but he finds the results better with the Chilcas fruit. Bottled just the week before I tasted it, it is a little closed and dull at present, but a fine, raspberry and pepper edged fruit. Lots of chocolate and fudge-like soft, earthy fruit. Very nice potential here.

Via (Chile) Colina Negra Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
10% Malbec, but all Maule fruit. Quite closed, with a slightly baked quality here. 12 months in oak, a combination of American and French. There’s a nice solidity about it, with supple, dark fruit, but it remains a little closed and flat for me, and is not as expressive as the Cabernet Franc, and certainly not as impressive as the Red One.

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Terranoble, Maule

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Terra Noble (Chile) Carmenere Gran Reserva 2005
Rich, fruity blackcurrant nose, with some peppercorn and earthiness, and plenty of solid black fruit. Very smooth, ripe, rich mouthfeel, with very supple, ripe tannins. Lovely quality of blue/black glossy fruit. Nice supple, ripe tannins and a nice core of black fruit. Very good quality, ripe and solid core of fruit and very good length. Around £8 if it appears in the UK

Terra Noble (Chile) Sauvignon Blanc Vineyard Selection 2006
This has an overtly green nose, with lots of herbs and asparagus notes. Fine tropical notes coming through. The palate has a big rush of sweetenss, with lots of very ripe fruit, but a slightly sweet/sour character. Los of power and persistence in its way, but for me a rather undrinkabale style. About £4.99 in the UK.

See current stockists of Calina on wine-searcher

Calina (Chile) Carmenere Reserva 2005
20% of Colchagua Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend, and all Carmenere from this vineyard. Nice, rich, smoky, creamy blueberry and blackcurrant nose, with a soft, silky mouthfeel. Very rich, prune and plummy darkness, with fine, soft, earthy finish. Six months in barriques, but after blending they may add some staves to the tanks if they feel it needs some more oak. $10.99 – $11.99. Maybe £6 – £7?

Calina (Chile) Cabernet Sauvignon Alcance 2004
Alcance range are vineyard designated wines, from Maule vineyards. 85% Cabernet, 15% Merlot. Very rich, ripe mulberry fruit, with a spicy, plummy character. A touch of vanilla and soft, creamy oak. Onto the palate it has a savoury, rich, plummy richness with lots of savoury, smoky oak. Very fine, lip-smacking richness and good acidity. Very nice Cabernet Sauvignon. 13 months in French oak, 25% new. $16.99 – $18.99.

Calina (Chile) Merlot Alcance 2004
Big, plummy, ripe nose with slightly bloody notes and lots of fine, cherry fruit. Soft, caressing tannins in the mouth, but plenty of juicy fruit and a savoury, racy quality with grippy tannic edges and good acidity. 85% Melot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. 13 months in French oak, 25% new. $16.99 – $18.99.

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