By Mike Potashnik, Ph.D
Co-Publisher, International Wine Review
Do wine writers really know how well a wine will age?If so, how age worthy is a modestly-priced Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile?These were the challenging questions put to a small group of us who participated in a unique vertical tasting of Cousiño Macul’srenowned Antiguas Reservas.The event was held on April 28th at the Residence of the Chilean Ambassador to the United States in Washington and graciously hosted by Ambassador and Mrs. Mariano Fernandez and Alfredo Bartholomaus, Billington Imports, importer ofCousiño Macul.
Cousiño Macul is one of Chile’s most successful wineries and has been in operation for over 150 years. In 2002, it moved its operations from the center of Santiago to a new modern facility with 300 hectares in Buin, a commune in the Maipo Valley wine region. The winery is best known for producing good quality wines at affordable prices.
The eight wines we tasted, some quite rare, were served in three flights with several delicious dishes.This tasting was pleasantly informal and we agreed as a group at to share our impressions of the wines with openness and frankness so we could learn what each honestly thought of the wines.I think it fair to say that we were impressed with just how well these Antiguas Reservas wines was aging.Most of the wines were in reasonably good shape and as often occurs in vertical tastings, some of the older vintages were doing better than the younger ones.Sort of like people!!
While we didn’t completely agree on which were the most noteworthy wines, there seemed to be a growing consensus at least on one side of the table that the 1981 and 1960 vintages were excellent, followed by the 1985 and 2003 vintages.Here are my brief notes on each of the wines in order of our tasting:
Cousiño Macul Cabernet Sauvignon“Antiguas Reservas” Maipo, 1992
Medium garnet in color, aromatic and earthy in character with aromas and flavors of black cherry fruit.It has a nice silky texture with good acidity, round tannins and a pleasant finish
Cousiño Macul Cabernet Sauvignon“Antiguas Reservas” Maipo, 1990
Dark ruby in color (seemed much younger than the 1992) youthful with a spicy nose,ripe fruit more plumy and less earthy than the 1992.Fresh tasting, with soft round tannins
Cousiño Macul Cabernet Sauvignon“Antiguas Reservas” Maipo, 1983
Medium garnet in color, rather earthy and light in flavors, with a dry tart finish and beginning to oxidize.One of our participants noted the similarities of this wine with Chateau Palmer.
Cousiño Macul Cabernet Sauvignon“Antiguas Reservas” Maipo, 1981
One of the stars of the evening. Medium garnet colored with aromas and flavorsof dried cherry and plum fruit, herbs and spice box notes.Beautifully balanced with a long lasting finish. Probably the best wine of the evening.
Cousiño Macul Cabernet Sauvignon“Antiguas Reservas” Maipo, 1978
This wine was the most Bordeaux-like with red and black earthy fruit, notes of cloves and asian spices, velvety smooth and nicely structured.
Cousiño Macul Cabernet Sauvignon“Antiguas Reservas” Maipo, 1977
A ratherearthy wine with a gamey and musty character.Light cherry fruit with spice and good acidity.
Cousiño Macul Cabernet Sauvignon“Antiguas Reservas” Maipo, 1965
Garnet in color with an orange rim.Complex with a roasted meaty character.Was initially musty, but these aromas dissipated and were followed by sherry like flavors and elegant mouth feel.
Cousiño Macul Cabernet Sauvignon“Antiguas Reservas” Maipo, 1960
A gorgeous wine for its age.Garnet with youthful ripe black cherry fruit aromas and delicious fruit flavors.Seemed young by comparision with the 1965 vintage. Nicely deliniated with good acidity anda long lasting finish.