A well-made wine that shows both component grapes off very favorably. Intriguing nose of cedar, blackcurrant, thyme, and allspice. Blossoms open on the palate (after about 15 minutes to breathe, perhaps longer) with gobs of ripe fruit ferrying cranberry and blackberry overtones. A bit short in the mid-palate, with the lean Carménère a bit more dominant, but has a long, luscious finish. An interesting wine at a good price. Try with glazed pork chop or roast. Recommended. GT
This is a pretty impressive Sauvignon Blanc. Pink grapefruit, white flowers, and cut grass waft up out of the glass. The pink grapefruit is joined on the mid-palate by softer, more tropical fruit, perhaps mango, white flowers, again, moving toward white grapefruit on the finish. Drink with fresh flounder. Highly recommended.
Both Chile and Argentina are also producing unique wines of real character, many of them at prices that are fractions of their Old World European or even U.S. counterparts thanks their to the much lower labor and land costs. You just need to know where to find them.
Most consumers didn’t realize it from the almost surreptitious announcement, but one of California's main wine producers got a huge boost a few weeks ago when Fetzer, the iconic Mendocino County wine company, was sold to a Chilean few Americans know much about.
Winemaker Marcelo Retamal is developing a well deserved reputation as one of Chile’s visionaries, and this field blend red (made mostly from Malbec vines planted in the mid 1950s) shows why. This wine is the full package: tobacco smoke, meat, chocolate, dark plum, juicy and silky—which basically means that the tannins are rounder and approachable now. Focused, expressive, and sure to be empty at your dinner table in before-you-know-it timeframes.
Morandé’s winemaking director Pablo Morandé is often regarded as the godfather of Chile’s modern winemaking industry, and he’s not afraid of taking risky chances when the pay off is a result like this great wine, made from a variety that might have originated in Spain but is best known as the main ingredient in dark wines from France’s Languedoc region. Morandé’s Carignan is inky-dark, with intense blackberry action that’s kind of brambly, followed by plums, baking spices, herbs, and violets. It’s bold but smooth, has great balance as well as tons of character and concentration that actually seems to have a purpose. Chalk it up to the bush trained, dry farmed vineyards—planted in the 1950s by the grandfather of “the grandfather.”
Your first reaction is probably “what the hell is Sauvignon Gris?” Think of it as a good, cool climate Sauvignon Blanc (in its citrusy, tropical, and herbal aromatics) meets a good, cool climate Chardonnay (in its creamy structure and full body), with a lemon-rind finish thrown in for good measure. The cooling breezes from the Pacific Ocean help this wine to retain its vibrant, acidic verve while still appealing to the Chardonnay lovers out there. Savuignon Gris might just be poised as the next “breakout” variety from South America.
This rather large-bodied Pinot Noir has a label that says 14% alcohol, but a nose and sensation on the eyes that say 14.9%. It also shows cherries, dried strawberries, and sage. On the palate cherries and raspberries meet plenty of wood effects including vanilla, toast, and cinnamon. It also shows sage, marjoram, and a tiny hit of cayenne pepper. Tannins are big and a little dusty. Acids are a bit low compared to tannins and wood. The finish has some length, but ends up with an overwhelming sensation of new barrels. The glass half-full crowd would call this "a Pinot for people who don't like Pinot." The glass half-empty crowd would describe it as "a spoofilated Pinot wearing a Cali-Cab costume for Halloween." Drink it with fun-sized snickers and candy corn. Not recommended.