Tasting Notes: ‘Wines of Chile Update’ presented by Erica Dent DipWSET, 28 August 2019

Erica was aiming to show that Chile is now producing more variety of wines than we might have expected. When asked what we all thought Chile produced, we said Merlot, Cab Sauv and Sauvignon Blanc, not expensive and reliable. So not one of these varieties did we taste! Erica had brought along some maps of the wine areas which helped to explain the wide diversity of climate and terroir options, and she had brought a selection of the less common wines to illustrate this, and succeeded admirably! The wines polarised the room more than usual, which shows how individual they all were. 

Vina Koyle ‘Don Cande’ Muscat 2018, Itata DO. 12.5%.  Old vines, c 50 years old, and dry-farmed. Itata  is one of the more southerly areas, with some limestone. Distinct Muscat nose, but not as obvious as some. Apparently this is the Alexander clone of Muscat, which is not the most floral of the Muscat variations. Good basic minerality, so more body than sometimes with a very floral Muscat. Very good price for this wine!  £8.25 Wine Society

Vina Falerina Riesling 2018, Elqui Valley DO. 12.5%. Another unusual grape for Chile; Riesling is generally a cool-climate grape. This is from a more northerly (hotter) DO area, but grown near the coast getting the cooling influence of the Humboldt current. Not irrigated. The grapes are then picked early, again to retain a freshness. Not overly Riesling-y, but a lovely citrus freshness, and a pleasing touch of residual sugar. Good with cheese.  £11.95 Great Western Wine

Undurraga Cauquenes Estate Viognier/Rousanne/Marsanne 2018.  Maule DO.   Undurraga is one of the oldest of Chile’s wine houses, founded in 1879, and large, with 1350 hectares. The Rhone blend, and similar in style – quite full and rich on the palate, without being quite as obvious as a similar Aussie wine. 60% Viognier, 30% Rousanne, 10% Marsanne. Hand harvested and cool-fermented, then left on the lees for5 months.£7.50 Wine Society.

Vina Leyda, Lot 5 Chardonnay 2015, Leyda Valley DO. 14%.   Erica said she felt she needed to show this style, but aware not everyone likes it! A big, oaked Chardonnay, but with more class than usual, and a lot of care in the wine-making, hence its price. The vineyard is irrigated by a pipeline 5 miles long. The grapes are fermented by their own wild yeasts in French barriques (15% are new). 20% of the wine then has a further malolactic fermentation. The wine is then lefton the lees but stirred regularly. Quite an effort overall! The result is a full, well balanced Chardonnay, with high acidity offsetting the richness. But as expected, half the room liked it and the other didn’t! £18.50 Great Western Wine

Miguel Torres Reserva de Pueblo, Pais 2016. Secano Interior DO. 12%.  The first red, a Pais, is one of the old grape varieties originally from Spain and still found in the Canaries (and called the Mission grape in California); vigorous, bush grown with no irrigation. Carbonic maceration as in Beaujolais, and the wine is reminiscent of those wines, a fruity quaffing wine with just enough smooth tannins to make it interesting.   £9.50 Fareham Wine Cellar.

Vina Leyda Reserva, Syrah 2017, Leyda DO. 14%.  A relatively gentle Syrah, very approachable, tannins quite low and restrained oak. 30% in oak and 70% in stainless steel.  £11.95 Great Western Wine.

Terra Noble CA2 Carmenere 2014, Lolol Vineyard, Colchagua Costa DO. 14%. and Terra Noble CA1 Carmenere 2014, Los Lingues Vineyard, Colchagua Andes DO. 14%.   Made to be tried as a pair – the same grape, the same winemaking, but one from a vineyard on the cooler coast with granitic soil, and one from the higher vineyards in the Andes with clay soil. The coastal wine showed more easily, perhaps with age the other will develop. The coastal wine had an amazing nose – allspice/cloves/garam masala? Beautifully balanced and rounded on the palate. The Andean wine was less obvious – more severe/minerally, but could age well.  Both £28.99 General Wine Co.


Many thanks to Erica for a really interesting evening, with really no wines that we would normally have expected from Chile! A great variety of grapes and terroirs, and clearly Chile has a lot more than Merlot to offer!


Notes by Sally and John Harris