Wine of Chile arranged a short touring roadshow around the UK, including Glasgow. This was a very good consumer event, well organised in the airy surroundings of the city’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum where the acres of marble and lofty ceilings kept the very large crowd cool. For the modest ticket price there were lots of wines to taste, and not all at the basic level. Should the roadshow roll your way in future I wouldn’t hesitate to attend.
The wines were very sound on the whole. Although outstanding wines were few and far between – remembering the vast majority of wines on show fell into the £4-£7($7-$11) category – most showed the ripe, fruity depth and high value for money that justifies Chile’s place in the market. There were two notable trends in evidence: a move towards mid and premium-priced wines, mostly “Bordeaux blends” with expensive French oak ageing, and diversifying grape varieties: many more Sémillons, Viogniers, Gewürztraminers and Pinots Noir joining the ubiquitous Chardonnays and Cabernets.
Sauvignon Blanc 1999
Nice fruit here in a delicate, tropical style. Not too herbaceous, on the palate it is juicy and fresh with gooseberry and citrus fruit and balanced acidity. Good. £5.49 Oddbins/Thesher/Victoria Wine.
Wild Ferment Chardonnay 1998
Flashy, toasty oak with intriguing and difficult to pin-down aromas reminiscent of herbs and yeast. Powerful fruit on the palate, pear and apple, honeysuckle and a rounding out with creamy oak. Long. Good. £8.99 Oddbins/Unwins.
Sauvignon Blanc 1999
Sharp gooseberry aromas and flavours. Quite powerful and seems rather alcoholic. £4.49 Unwins/Spar.
A little nondescript, but with coaxing some buttery lime fruit emerges on the palate. Medium-bodied. Not bad at the price. £3.99 Unwins/Waitrose.
Quite a low-key and understated nose for a Gewürztraminer: delicate floral aromas lead on to a palate of cool, quite classy fruit and lots of grapefruity acidity. Good. £4.99 Sainsbury.
Massively charry, if rather obvious nose of buttery spice and masses of tropical fruit. Unctuous palate is loaded with pear and tropical fruit. Good acidity and a lot of wine for the money. £7.99.
Cuvée Alexandre Chardonnay 1997
Really much more refined nose. Still with spicy, toasty, nutty oak but in step with sweetly ripe orange and peach fruit, just hints of more tropical richness. Very long indeed. Excellent. £10.99.
Cuvée Alexandre Merlot 1998
A perennial favourite, this is loaded with cream, berries, tobacco and smoke. Firm tannins back up chunky, almost minty sweet fruit on the palate which is very thick and chocolaty. Tannins do support well into a long finish. Excellent. £13.59.
Cuvée Alexandre Cabernet Sauvignon 1997
This has great presence with spice-edged blackcurrant fruit and little cedary nuances. Tannins grip and dry the mouth, but these are ripe and sweet and round-out good fruit. Excellent. £10.99.
Viña Casa Silva
Chardonnay Reserva 1998
Delicate, fresh peach and butter nose. This also has a deft touch of oak, but is basically made in a clean and crisp style with slightly honeyed orchard fruits on the palate. Good. £6.99 – £7.99.
Antiguas Reserva Chardonnay 1998
This is really quite delicious on the nose with very creamy, buttery apple pastry aromas. The palate has medium body and a nice balance of oak and fresh fruit. Quite long. Very good. £6.99 Euroworld Wines.
Finis Terrae 1996
The company’s premium Cabernet/Merlot blend. This has a slightly green, herbal note with emerging weight of smoke, tobacco, cedar and plum. There is a mineral note too. On the palate it is quite full and ripe, with black fruits falvours but plenty of grip from firm tannins. Good balance, perhaps not quite as fine as the 1995, but good. £14.00 Euroworld Wines.
Good varietal nose with no lack of peachy fruit and a well-balanced, medium-bodied mouthfeel. Good. £4.99 Somerfield/Oddbins/Majestic.
Gewürztraminer 1999 – £4.99
Highly aromatic. Spot-on varietal nose again with lots of floral and lychee aromas, undertones of peach and spice. On the palate good acidity and fruit. Excellent. Along with the excellent example from Casablanca Estate, Chile does seem to be making a success of the Gewürztraminer. £4.99 Oddbins/Majestic/Tesco/Victoria Wine/Asda/Safeway/Sainsbury/Somerfield.
Donoso Domaine Reserve 1997 –
This is very, very classy with big, meaty, sweet and sour aromas and a palate full of chewy, savoury cherry and leather fruit. There is spiciness and excellent length. £16.99 Cockburns of Leith.
All wines from Avery’s mail order
Unwooded Chardonnay 1999
This has excellent balance and very good fruit of apple and pear. Quite full-bodied and chewy on the palate, it is robust yet also quite elegant. Finishes well. Good. £5.49.
Chardonnay Reserva 1998
Much spicier, oakier vanillin nose and a real kick of oak on the palate. Good fruit. £6.49.
Viña El Aromo
Chardonnay Sello Gran Reserva 1999
Distinctly odd this. Nose of iodine and elastoplast (Band-Aids) with a wheat-beer flavour! Could be a wild yeast character? £5.99 Alliance Wine Co.
Lomas de Cauquenes
Antu Mapu Rosé 1999
Creamy, dense blackcurrant fruit on the nose. Palate quite crisp and displaying blackcurrant and raspberry flavours along with good acidity. £4.49 Wm. Morrison.
Very attractive nose. Palate has a great richness of smooth berry fruit. Fine balance. This is very good. £11.99.
Manso de Velasco 1996
Lovely nose of cassis, plum and cedary wood. Palate is gripped by fine tannins but a great purity of fruit is evident: creamy blackcurrant and deep blueberry. Lovey balance and sense of refinement. Long and extremely good. £14.99.
Malbec Single Vineyard Reserve 1997
Mint, vanilla and dense blackberry fruit on the nose. Little exotic notes of violet and dusty blueberry. Thick, black fruit on the palate. Very concentrated and deep. Very good. £8.99 Sainsbury/Tesco.
Pinot Noir Reserve 1996
Up-front, powerful strawberry and more dense, blackcurranty fruit on the nose. Quite full and rich with a weighty palate of ripe berry fruit, just a little earthy, animal character and considerable tannic bite. A no-holds-barred style, but rather good of its type. £7.99 Victoria Wine/Thresher.
Niebla Carmenère 1998
This is terrific stuff with blue/black violet and mulberry scented fruit, damsons and bittersweet plum skins. Palate has that rich and dark-fruited character but also well-balanced with elegant tannins and acidity, and good length. £6.99 Border Fine Wines.