Fri 23 Sep 2011

Chile: Tastes as Broad as the Country is Long


The Society’s annual Chilean tasting was just what was needed to lift everyone’s spirits as a wet and windy Monday brought autumn into sharp relief.

The first tasting was held at Delfina Galleries on Bermondsey Street (the first time we’d had a tasting south of the river in a few years) and the second at Freemasons’ Hall in Manchester.

Many of the usual suspects were there, both members and winemakers alike. Thanks especially to the member in Manchester who informed me that he was planning to attend two of the Society’s tastings taking place across the country within the space of a week – now that’s dedication!

The wines did not disappoint: the broad range of wine styles on offer really showed the diversity of what Chile had to offer. It’s really no wonder that Toby Morrhall, the Society’s buyer for South America, describes Chile as one of his favourite places to buy wines. As many will know, Toby’s efforts were recognised only recently by the International Wine Challenge, who awarded The Society ‘Specialist Merchant of the Year’ for Chile (Toby’s reaction can be read here).

Highlights from the tasting – and there were many – included the chardonnays and syrahs from the Límari Valley. It is now well-known that this is now perhaps the place to grow chardonnay in Chile, and we now source our own-label examples from the area. Tabalí’s Reserva Especial Syrah 2008 showed off the promise that syrah has found in the region, its lovely perfume and gentle spice straddling the great divide between Aussie blockbusters and the more restrained syrahs from the northern Rhône. You can read more about Límari here.

Viña Leyda Lot 21 Pinot Noir, 2008

Chile has also been making a name for itself with carmenère, though we still feel these wines deserve greater recognition. While its French counterparts tend toward the lean and mean, it thrives in Chile, taking on a fleshier character, yet retaining its lovely freshness. A great example of what can be done with this variety is De Martino’s Legado Carmenère, 2008.

With the growers present themselves we decided it would be bad form taking a straw poll as to the favourite wine of the night! Just for the record however, I would have to say mine was the Viña Leyda Lot 21 Pinot Noir, 2008. A bit on the pricier side I have to admit, but the closest thing I have come to a red Burgundy from this area in terms of the lightness of touch and fragrance. I think I may have found a new ‘Saturday night wine.’

We thoroughly enjoyed showing off what Chile has to offer, and look forward to doing so again next year. Given the pace of the country’s wine industry, who knows what will be on show then? As Toby himself says, each time he goes to Chile he is amazed by the dynamic and enterprising approach the winemakers take to their craft – always on the lookout for the next terroir or the next ‘hot’ (or indeed ‘cool’) variety.

Click here to view all of the wines shown at this tasting.

Emma Howat
Tastings & Events Co-ordinator

Categories : Chile, Wine Tastings

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