Great Values in a Time of Pandemic: Selections from Chile

Chile has made its mark by producing and exporting wines of exceptional value.  With a pandemic raging, the economy shrinking, and many wine consumers unemployed, there’s a growing demand for affordable wines that offer real drinking pleasure. With this week’s announcement that the US will continue to levy the 25% tariff on European wine, consumers will turn to other wine producing regions like Chile for the best values. In this article, we review some of our favorite new value selections from Chile. To learn more about Chilean wine, consult one of our in-depth reports on The Wines of Chile.  The wines reviewed here are imported by Global Vineyard Importers of Berkeley CA.

Domus Aurea Vineyard

White Wines

Albamar 2019 Chardonnay Casablanca Valley ($12) 90+ 
The Albamar Chardonnay is sourced from the Casablanca Valley, one of Chile’s prime regions for growing this variety. The wine is fruity and softly textured with attractive, fresh orchard fruit complemented by hints of cherimoya and flinty minerals. A straightforward, honest Chardonnay, it’s well balanced and easy drinking. Viña Albamar is the principal label of the William Cole Winery. 

Albamar 2019 Estate Series Sauvignon Blanc Casablanca Valley ($15) 89 Pleasing aromas of white grapefruit and nettles gives way to a fresh, brisk attack and a light palate.  Finishes with good length and lingering citrus/herbal flavors complemented by a nice acid-mineral note.  An outstanding wine for the price.  

Apaltagua 2019 Unoaked Chardonnay Reserva San Antonio Valley  ($13) 88 Green citrus, herbs, and mineral-like scents are mirrored on the palate with assertive acidity.  There’s good flavor concentration and a prolonged, extract-rich finish.  A bit too sharp for quaffing, it’s best to pair this wine with simply prepared seafood. 13% alc

Calcu 2019 Sauvignon Blanc Semillon Reserva Especial Colchagua Valley ($13) 90 This Bordeaux white blend sourced from cool climate vineyards reveals scents of nettles and herbs with hints of citrus. It’s full in the mouth with good freshness and appealing white grapefruit and lemon citrus flavors. Finishes with solid persistence.  A blend of 68% Sauvignon Blanc and 32% Semillon from estate vineyards in the foothills of the Andes and from Marchigüe, located in the coastal Pacific. 12.5% alc.

Red Wines

Apaltagua 2017 Colección Pinot Noir San Antonio Valley ($25) 91 From Chile’s maritime-affected San Antonio Valley the Colección Pinot Noir offers excellent freshness and complexity of flavor. The nose reveals dark red fruit and notes of underbrush and dried herbs. In the mouth there’s a silky texture with dense flavors that mirror the nose, excellent balancing acidity, and round tannins and lingering rich flavors on the finish. 13.5% alc. This is an outstanding value in New World Pinot Noir. 

Apaltagua 2018 Envero Carmenere Gran Reserva Colchagua Valley ($17) 91 Effusive fragrance of plums and dark cherries. This is a well balanced, very flavorful wine with vibrant acidity and firm, round tannins. The flavors mimic the nose with good depth and fullness in the mouth. Great pairing with lamb chops.  14% alc. 

Apaltagua 2018 Envero Cabernet Sauvignon Gran Reserva Tricao Vineyard Curico Valley ($17) 90  Ripe and rich, the Envero Cabernet Sauvignon offers tasty plum and cassis accented by earthy notes.  It offers a suave mouth feel and medium flavor density, finishing with good length and slightly astringent tannins that will soften with a bit more bottle age.  

Apaltagua 2017 Grial Carmenere Apalta Valley ($75) 93  Dark ruby. This super premium Chilean Carmenere offers aromas and flavors of dark berries and plum with complex spice notes and a hint of cocoa powder.  The palate is deep, dense and seamless with a refined, silky texture, a juicy, persistent finish and fine grained tannins. Well worth the price. Sourced from 60+ year old vines. 14% alc.

Calcu 2017 Cabernet Franc Reserva Especial Colchagua Valley ($14) 90  Medium dark red.  Purple plum with nuances of toasty oak and dried herbs on the nose. Fruit forward with a light mid-palate and pleasant flavors. Finishes firm with good acidity. 

Gillmore 2016 Mariposa Red Blend Maule Valley ($20) 92 This 50/50 blend of dry farmed Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon from the Loncomilla Valley is an exceptional value. The wine is full and silky with Syrah contributing lush dark fruit and Cabernet Sauvignon adding firm structure.  The two grapes combine to produce a wine that’s full bodied and smoothly textured. It’s made by the highly regarded Chilean winemakers Daniella Gillmore and Andrés Sánchez with fruit from their estate vineyard. 

Maquis 2017 Cabernet Franc Gran Reserva Colchagua Valley ($20) 90
Showing effusive plum and cherry fruit with earthy notes on the nose, this is a nicely balanced, medium weight wine with a silky texture and bright acidity. Its round tannins and fresh fruit character make it easy drinking, perfect for pizza. 14% alc. 

Maquis 2017 Carménère Colchagua Valley ($20) 91   Dense, dark garnet red. Effusive bouquet of plum, blackberry and smoky mesquite. Spicy on the attack with a super silky texture and layers of fresh dark red fruit complemented by smoky, earthy notes.  Long, lingering finish.  Sourced from a vineyard located between the Chimbarongo Creek and the Tinguiririca River in the central Colchagua Valley. A perfect complement to grilled meats. 

Maquis 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Colchagua Valley ($20) 91  Dark red. Showing fresh scents of red and dark red fruit with herbal and spice nuances, this is a beautifully balanced, medium weight wine showing lush fruit on the palate. It finishes with fine firm tannins. A wine that pairs beautifully with today’s cuisine. 

Viña Quebrada de Macul 2016 Domus Aurea Cabernet Sauvignon Upper Maipo Valley ($45) 93  A value wine is one that offers outstanding quality for the price.  While the Domus Aurea Cabernet Sauvignon is on the pricier side for Chilean wine, its high quality still makes it an exceptional value.  Powerful aromas of dark fruit, violets, and smoky oak.  Broad in the mouth with a silky texture and layers of dark fruit married to savory herbs and well-integrated toasty oak.  A youthful, focused wine with fine firm tannins that will improve still further with a couple of years aging.  Cabernet Sauvignon blended with Petit Verdot, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc.  

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