Ok, so I’m not supposed to admit this as a wine buyer/seller but I don’t buy Chilean wine – not for a long time has it actually had my hard earned cash spend on it. I tend towards buying things from France but have also bought New Zealand, South African, Australian, Argentinian, Spanish, Italian -but not Chilean.
You see I just don’t get Chilean wine, sure for your average drinker who wants something with lots of fruit, and very little in the way of elegance and structure it ticks all the right boxes – but you see I want a wine – no matter how ripe to have elegance, I want it to be structured so that I can drink it with food and not feel somehow that I might as well be drinking Ribena with vodka added. And here’s the thing – Chile is very very good at doing what it does, making soft, supple easy to drink wines but for me there is a lack of acidity in the wines that I really want to see keeping that ripe fruit fresh.
Now I have to admit, in the last few years Chile has made positive strides – there are new wineries in places like Limari and Bio Bio making some really lovely white wines and some of the Pinot is getting to be quite interesting from these cool regions so there is a future for Chile in my book. But the problem I have is that the vast majority of wines made in the central valley, whether a blend of regions or from Maipo, Rapel, Colchagua or Curico don’t cut the mustard and these are made by the historical powerhouses of the Chilean wine industry.
I’ve been to a couple of the annual Chilean trade tastings – and to be honest I’ve left feeling pretty glum about the state of the industry – or at least the quality of the vast majority of wines made there. As I said there are bright spots but these are the exception not the rule. And so it was that when friends who drink beer and plonk came around I wanted something they would like but that I could drink too I chose a bottle of Cousino Macul Finis Terrae from the wine rack. Now this is far from plonk coming in at a pretty expensive (for Chile) £18 but everything else in my rack smacked of structure and austerity and I wasn’t sure my friends would like it – but I was spot in in thinking this would be right up their street.
Cousino Macul Finis Terrae 2007
Cousino Macul is a historic estate founded in 1857, with estates in Macul and Buin in the Maipo valley and make a range of wines starting with the ‘Special’ range (really?) , Varietal range, Reservas range and then the premium range (this is the only wine to sit in this category and the only ‘category’ about it is ‘Icon’ with one wine in it – Lota. (Why both wines couldn’t just be marketed together I don’t know, but I assume its something to do with the US markets thirst for Icon wines.
A blend of Cabernet & Merlot with just a touch of Syrah added. It’s full bodied very rounded with more freshness that I associate with Chile. Lashings of plums and damsons with sweet vanilla spice and mocha dominate the palate. It has lovely depth and complexity and just enough tannic structure to support the fruit. However for me the fruit is just a little bit too ripe, a bit jammy I’d prefer a little more savoury character in my wine.
Not a bad effort at all but not one that I’m about to fork £18 on.