Chile’s New Releases: Growing Diversity and Rising Quality
June 25, 2015
by Josh Raynolds
I tasted more top-notch Chilean wines this year than ever before, and at all price points. From racy Sauvignon Blancs that have been catching the lion’s share of the wine trade’s attention to high-end Bordeaux- and Napa-inspired Cabernets and Cabernet-based blends to exciting new Pinot Noirs and Syrahs, there’s something of interest for every palate. Even better, pricing almost always easily beats the country’s competition except for a few outstanding but very ambitiously priced trophy wines that are targeted at cult wine collectors.
91 pts Chilcas Red One 2011
Opaque ruby. Sexy, oak-accented cherry and dark berry scents pick up floral and tobacco nuances with air. Fleshy and expansive on the palate, offering sweet cherry and blackcurrant flavors and a suggestion of mint. Quite lithe for its power, finishing with strong punch, supple tannins and lingering minerality.
90 pts Chilcas Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Opaque ruby. Ripe cherry and cassis aromas are lifted by a subtle peppery nuance and pick up a sexy floral note with air. Sappy and focused on the palate, offering concentrated black and blue fruit flavors that deepen on the back half. Supple tannins come in late, adding shape to lingering bitter cherry and licorice pastille qualities. I like the blend of power and finesse here.
90 pts Chilcas Single Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2012
Glass-staining ruby. Spicy cherry and dark berry scents are complemented by a suave floral note and a hint of spicecake. Juicy, focused and gently sweet on the palate, offering sappy blackberry and cherry flavors that stretch out and become more tangy with aeration. Clean, spicy and precise on the persistent finish, which is supported by dusty, even tannins.
90 pts Chilcas Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Bright violet color. Aromas of ripe blackcurrant, licorice and cured tobacco, with a peppery note adding lift. Smooth and appealingly sweet on the palate, offering juicy dark fruit flavors that open up and put on weight with air. Shows a lively spicy quality on the gently tannic, persistent finish, with the dark fruit note emphatically echoing.
90 pts Chilcas Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2013
Bright yellow. Fresh melon, white peach and honey on the perfumed nose and in the mouth. Smooth and expansive, with very good clarity and cut and a hint of candied ginger providing an exotic flourish. Vanilla and smoky mineral notes linger on a long, focused, alluringly floral finish.
89 pts Chilcas Reserva Syrah 2012
Saturated ruby. Ripe cherry and dark berry scents are complemented by hints of cracked pepper and cola. Supple and broad on the palate, offering pliant black and blue fruit flavors and building smokiness. In a plush, ample style, finishing with no obvious tannins and good thrust.
90 pts Chilensis Lazuli 2011
Bright violet color. Vibrant aromas of black raspberry, fresh flowers and peppery spices, with hints of licorice and cola in the background. Ripe and fleshy yet lively, offering intense red and dark berry flavors that stretch out and gain sweetness with aeration. Fine-grained tannins provide grip to the finish, which hangs on with strong fruit-driven tenacity.
90 pts Oveja Negra The Lost Barrel 2011
Bright violet color. Smoky dark berries, cherry pit and licorice on the powerfully scented nose and in the mouth. Smooth and broad on the palate, offering juicy black and blue fruit flavors enlivened by a jolt of tangy acidity. Shows very good focus and energy on the clinging finish, which features velvety tannins and an echo of candied licorice.
89 pts Chilcas Reserva Chardonnay 2013
Light yellow. Aromas of fresh pear and nectarine are sharpened by a suggestion of orange zest. Fleshy and seamless on the palate, offering juicy orchard and citrus fruit flavors that tighten up slowly with air. Notes of sweet butter and tarragon appear on the clinging, spicy finish.
89 pts Chilcas Single Vineyard Cinsault 2014
Vivid ruby. Assertive dark berry, cherry, violet and cracked pepper aromas remind me a lot of Syrah. Broad, sweet and fleshy on the palate, offering spice-accented black and blue fruit flavors and a touch of white pepper. A red berry nuance comes up on the gently tannic finish, which shows good clarity and length.
89 pts Chilensis Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Deep ruby. Lively red fruits and flowers on the nose, with a hint of peppery spices adding complexity. Juicy and light on its feet, offering bitter cherry and redcurrant flavors that deepen and gain sweetness with air. Shows a refreshing tangy quality and a touch of dark chocolate on the finish, which is firmed by dusty, harmonious tannins.
89 pts Chilensis Reserva Merlot 2011
Brilliant ruby. Smoky red fruit and floral pastille aromas are complicated by hints of smoked meat and mint. On the palate, spicy redcurrant and cherry flavors show good clarity and a late kick of peppery spices. Finishes clean and nervy, with subtle sweetness and fine-grained tannins that sneak in late.
89 pts Oveja Negra Reserva Chardonnay/Viognier 2013
Light yellow. Exotic aromas of mango, tangerine and honey are sharpened by a zesty lemon pith note. Juicy and focused in the mouth, offering bitter pear skin and melon flavors and a suggestion of Meyer lemon. An emphatically fruity, fresh blend with gentle spiciness and good closing cut.
89 pts Oveja Negra Reserva Cabernet Franc/Carmenere 2013
Vivid ruby. Medicinal cherry and pomegranate aromas show good clarity and a hint of cracked pepper. Tangy and focused on the palate, offering bitter cherry and red berry flavors that deepen and flesh out with air. Finishes with firm grip, building tannins and good spicy persistence.
89 pts Oveja Negra Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah 2013
Deep ruby. Fresh black and blue fruit, floral pastille and peppery spice scents, with suggestions of licorice and pipe tobacco. Juicy, focused and light on its feet, offering bitter cherry and redcurrant flavors and a suggestion of black tea. The peppery element repeats on the finish, which is firmed by dusty tannins and a jolt of tangy acidity.
89 pts Oveja Negra Single Vineyard Carmenere 2012
Full ruby. Pungent, smoke-accented cassis and blueberry aromas are complicated by suave floral and spicecake nuances. Sweet and seamless in the mouth, offering juicy dark fruit flavors that gain in sweetness and breadth with aeration. The intense, lingering finish is framed by smooth, slow-building tannins.
89 pts Oveja Negra Single Vineyard Carignan 2011
Vivid ruby. Ripe cherry and dark berries on the pungent, spice-accented nose and in the mouth. Shows hints of bitter chocolate and woodsmoke with air, along with a suggestion of succulent herbs. Closes with firm grip, dusty tannins and a lingering suggestion of anise.
88 pts Chilcas Reserva Pinot Noir 2013
Light red. Smoky and expressive on the nose, displaying scents of redcurrant, dried cherry and succulent herbs. Dry, focused and tangy in the mouth, with zesty red fruit and anise flavors and a touch of cracked pepper. The taut finish shows good focus and just a hint of dusty tannins.
88 pts Chilcas Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2013
Pale, green-tinged gold. Ripe peach, melon and pear on the nose and in the mouth. Smooth and open-knit, showing good heft and a sneaky note of ginger that adds bite. Closes with good breadth and cling, the peach note repeating.
88 pts Chilensis Reserva Malbec 2013
Vivid purple. Smoke- and spice-accented dark berries and cherry on the pungent nose. Bitter cherry and licorice flavors flesh out slowly with air, picking up a hint of black tea. Shows good energy and cut on the finish, which features dusty tannins and a hint of dark chocolate.
88 pts Chilensis Reserva Carmenere 2013
Brilliant ruby-red. Pungent aromas of cherry skin, dried flowers, licorice and leather, with a peppery note adding urgency. Spicy, focused and spicy on the palate, offering bitter cherry and redcurrant flavors and a touch of smoked meat. Shows a touch of Old World funkiness but there’s plenty of sweet fruit to buffer it. Finishes with an echo of cherry, smooth tannins and good length.
88 pts Chilensis Reserva Chardonnay 2012
Light, bright gold. Aromas of pear skin, dried fig and honey, with a subtle floral overtone. Fleshy and dry in the mouth, offering poached pear and orange pith flavors and a hint of green almond. Closes on a spicy note, with good focus and cut.
88 pts Oveja Negra Reserva Sauvignon Blanc/Carmenere 2014
Pale yellow. Dried peach, pear skin, lemon oil and jasmine on the perfumed nose. Fleshy and dry, showing a refreshingly bitter edge to its fresh citrus and orchard fruit flavors. Finishes with good energy and echoing lemon and floral notes. Yes, that’s the correct blend; the Carménère is quickly pressed free-run juice, and thus white in color.
88 pts Oveja Negra Reserva Malbec/Petit Verdot 2013
Dark purple. Ripe dark berries and candied plum on the deeply perfumed nose. Lush and broad on the palate, offering plush blackberry and plum liqueur flavors with an enlivening kick of black pepper. Shows good power on the finish, which features supple tannins and a hint of bitter chocolate.
87 pts Oveja Negra Reserva Carmenere/Merlot 2012
Bright ruby. Dark berries, cherry and a hint of menthol on the pungent nose. Tangy and precise on the palate, offering bitter cherry and cassis flavors that flesh out on the back half. Finishes on a slightly tart note.