Wednesday, December 10, 2008

WBW52: Value Reds from Chile

Wed 10 Dec 2008

This month's Wine Blogging Wednesday is hosted by Cheap Wine Ratings, who has chosen value reds from Chile. The 'rules' are a red wine from Chile that retails under $US20. At the moment, that's about £13, and no one (not even me!) thinks that £13 for a bottle of wine is cheap (of course, there's a monstrous difference between cheap and value, but bear with me). There's been some discussion and, for those of us not spending US dollars, there's some flexibility.

So ... I rolled into Latitude Wine and announced I needed a cheap Chilean red. My last cheap Chilean red outing (an Andes Peak Merlot, at about £6 a bottle) left me underwhelmed. This time round, I went for the cheapest Chilean red in the store: a Casa Roca 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot, at £4.75 a bottle.
Yes, a 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot. As you might expect, it made a big purple splash in the glass and had a very open, punchy, cassis rich nose with some vegetal notes. Now, I'm not someone who has a problem with vegetal in my red wines at all: back in April I very much enjoyed a Cabernet Franc from the Loire, precisely because of the green pepper and bramble leaf action. However, on the aroma front the Casa Roca begins and ends with cassis and vegetal.

On the palate, things were equally, um, unsophisticated. A big, big hit of fruit and ... um ... not a lot else. To me, it was unbalanced - all fruit and nothing else. No weight, no mouthfeel, no structure and no length.

Andy's comment sums it up well: there's a lot of fruit and it's not very nice.

Now - there's a huge part of me that says we're being very unfair here. Let's face it, the wine was under a fiver. While it's not impossible to buy wines that punch well above their weight at this price, it's certainly tricky. Also - I, in particular, have quite a taste for developed reds. Fruit bombs don't work for me at all - I like plenty of structure, I like complexity, I like smoke, leather, those vegetal notes ... Let's face it, if I wanted to drink Ribena ... I'd drink Ribena.

Personal preferences aside, for £5 this is a wine that would do to take to a BBQ or a party. However, if you're heading to a dinner party, I'd save my pennies and opt for something more expensive. The wines from Errázuriz, Montes, Amayna or Casa Lapostolle (which are among the Chilean reds with which we're familiar) are a little pricier but they are all more interesting to drink.

Perhaps I should have gone with the £13 price limit after all!
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry you didn't enjoy yours as much as I enjoyed mine.

12:30 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for participating. It's true that some of the really cheap ones can end up being fruit bombs and nothing more. I haven't had this one, but I agree with the other recommendations you made. Cheers!

1:17 am  
Blogger winesleuth said...

You definitely should have stuck with the 13 pound limit. I got a stonker for 12.49 - check out my post. cheers!

11:26 pm  
Blogger Alex said...

Thanks for all the supportive comments! I guess a big part of wine drinking is experimenting - and I've always used WBW as an 'excuse' to drink outside my norm. Sometimes it works & sometimes it doesn't ...

I do think next time I'll do creative things with exchange rates!

8:07 pm  

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