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Tag Archives: Chilean wine

Wine of the week: Errazuriz Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Reserva 2010

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Wine of the week: Errazuriz Cabernet SauvignonThere is almost no way that this red wine, from a well-known Chilean producer, should have impressed me. It’s too old for a cheap wine and too many cheap Chilean wines these days are dumbed down for the so-called American palate.

But the Errazuriz ($11, purchased, 13.5%) was neither of those. It was great Chilean cheap wine from the old days, a decade or so ago when you could go to any supermarket and pay $10 for a red like this or a sauvignon blanc like Veramonte and get more than your money’s worth. Chilean wines were always candidates for the $10 Hall of Fame in those days.

But not as much anymore. For one thing, the quality of the grapes used to make the wines declined as Chilean wine became more popular and more grapes were needed. For another, the marketing wise guys got their hands on the wines, and focus grouped them to death, so that they started to taste the same.

The Errazuiz didn’t have as much black fruit as I expected, but it was still more new world in style than old — save for the fact that it is heavy enough that it needs food. Plus, it was mostly balanced, with tannins and acid in the right places, another pleasant surprise. This is a nice value, and especially for an older $10 wine. Shows what Chile can still do when its winemakers aren’t busy chasing trends.

 

Wine of the week: Root:1 Pinot Noir 2012

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Wine of the week: Root:1 Pinot Noir 2012Today's wine of the week is another lesson in tasting the wine before you judge it. Regular visitors will remember the Wine Curmudgeon's ambivalence toward Chilean pinot noir until I was forced to taste it last summer; in addition, Root:1 wines have rarely impressed me, being inconsistent more than anything else.

Nevertheless, I tasted the pinot noir ($10, sample, 13.5%) with an open mind, because that's what I'm supposed to do. And guess what? The wine was worth the effort. It's light, fruity (some sort of red berry?), and balanced, without any of the excesses that plague other $10 pinots -- like adding syrah or grenache -- to make them taste fruitier and heavier. And, blissfully, the tannins were more or less what they were supposed to be.

It's not exactly pinot noir, lacking the earthiness and subtle of great pinot. In this, it tastes more like Beaujolais, which seems to be the case with a lot of $10 pinots from South America. But it's clean, food friendly, and a fine value for $10 -- so fine, in fact, that it merits consideration for the 2015 $10 Wine Hall of Fame.

Wine of the week: Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir 2012

The Cono Sur was the first wine we tasted during our pinot noir extravaganza this month, and it didn’t do much for me. I thought it was more like the Beaujolais I drank in the 1980s than pinot noir.

Two dozen pinot noirs later, I changed my mind.

It impressed me so much, in fact, that the Cono Sur ($9, sample, 13.5%) overcame my pre-disposition against Chilean pinot noir, which is often overpriced, poorly made, or both, and burdened with cute labels, a rant that regular visitors have read many times. What changed my mind was the aroma, earthy and spicy, and the taste, cherry fruit that wasn’t too fruity, and surprisingly soft, pinot-like tannins.

Does this wine taste like red Burgundy or top-notch Oregon? Of course not. It doesn’t even taste like Mark West or its knockoffs, the fruity, low-acid, red wines that have revolutionized pinot nor and made it affordable and accessible.

Instead, it’s an excellent example of how to make a wine taste like its varietal at this price, using carbonic maceration instead of traditional fermentation (which explains my confusion with Beaujolais, where carbonic maceration is common).

One warning: The Cono Sur, thanks to its screwcap, takes a while to open up. That’s one reason why it didn’t impress me when I first tasted it. But give it 15 or 20 minutes, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2014 $10 Hall of Fame.

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