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Tasting notes from Chile

text and photographs © 2010 Tom Cannavan

These notes accompany our in-depth feature on Chile, North to South.


There was no time on this trip to visit Curicó, the northern half of the Rapel Valley, but whilst in Santiago Torres invited me for a very good dinner at their wine bar in the city, where some tasty tapas was preceded by a tasting with Leonardo Devoto, one of the winemaking team. Leonardo is Chilean, but also studied at UC Davis in California and worked vintages at Geyser Peak and at d'Arenberg in Australia.

white wines

UK distributor of Torres Chile is Fells. See all stockists on wine-searcher.

Santa Digna Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2009
From central valley fruit. Gentle passionfruit aromas, with a touch of downy peach skin. Slightly thin, slightly phenolic finish. Pleasantly refreshing. 85/100.

Santa Digna Reserva Gewürztraminer 2008
Has 15% Riesling in the blend. A touch of smokiness and flintiness, some higher, floral notes. The palate has good fruit, with plenty of citrus, lime peel zest - seems very Riesling-ish, but deliciously quaffable. 87/100

Cordillera Chardonnay Viognier 2008
An 85/15 blend. Around 60% fermented in Nevers oak. Cashew and oatmeally character on the nose, with a nuttiness and ripe apple fruit. The palate is fresh, with a peachy quality to the fruit, that slightly phenolic character again. 86/100

red wines

Santa Digna Reserva cabernet Sauvignon Rosé 2009
Softly earthy aromas with strawberry-scented fruit. Quite big and creamy on the palate, with a richness to the fruit and 9g/l of sugar just adding some sweetness and fullness. 86/100.

Santa Digna Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Nice, rich, thick black fruit. A touch of peppery spice and the palate shows thick, ripe, rich fruit with a red fruit lightness and again that peppery, slightly herbal finish. 87/100.

Santa Digna Reserva Carmenère 2008
Aged in older barrels. Quite a tight, ripe but crisp black fruit character. The palate is ripe and doesn't show any green notes, and the cherry and black fruit stays quite focused. Nice sweet fruit finish. 86/100.

Cordillera Cariñena Shiraz Merlot 2006
54/22/24 split. Nine months in French oak, with 30% new. Quite a ripe, plush, fairly high-toned fruit, with lifted herb and kirsch-like cherry fruit. The fruit has good plushness and palate weight. Big, dusty tannins and lots of juicy acidity and fine tannins. A terrific grip and bite to this. 91/100.

Cordillera Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon Viognier 2007
15% Viognier skins added to the ferment. Nine months in French oak, 30% new. Quite a lot of herby, tobacco notes here, something chocolaty too and a dusty blue/black fruit. The palate has a chewy, quite rustic feel to the tannins, but it makes it dense and savoury. 88/100.

Cordillera Carmenère Merlot Petit Verdot 2007
50/35/15. Slightly smoky, slightly burnt note to this, quite leathery, with herbal notes. The palate has a juicy, savoury character, with a dry, slightly vegetal finish that is food friendly and savoury. 87/100.

Manso de Velasco 2006
100% Cabernet Sauvignon aged 18 months in Nevers oak, 50% new. From an old trellised vineyard, with rows planted three metres apart and vines 1.5 metres apart. Masses of chocolate and spice, with some herbal notes, but an underlying blackcurrant richness. Palate is thick and sweet and has great palate weight and ripeness and a thick, ripe tannins structure. A massive wine, but impressive. 91/100.

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