When I heard about the theme for Wine Blogging Wednesday number 52, Value Reds From Chile, proposed by Tim of the Cheap Wine Ratings blog, I knew that it was right up my alley. After all, for Wine Blogging Wednesday #48, when Lenn Thompson asked us to go back to our roots, to the first wines we liked to drink, I went straight back to Chilean cabernets.
And since, as far as I’m concerned, the most interesting ones are generally under 20$ (or only a little above that), it wasn’t too difficult to follow Tim’s lead and stay under the 20$ line.
But beyond the price, I thought I’d try to find something more. Like, say, organic or biodynamic, something which is still a little too rare in the offerings from Chile’s vineyards. After tasting a bottle of Antiyal, a delicious, serious, generous, yet not overbearing organically/biodynamically-farmed carmenère-based wine from Alvaro Espinoza, earlier this fall, I have certainly been thinking that more of this stuff should come on our shelves.
At well over 40$ a bottle, the Antiyal didn’t fit the WBW category, however. But searching for my WBW Chilean through the shelves at the SAQ store, the other day, I saw a Cono Sur 2006 Cabernet sauvignon/Carmenère blend from the Colchagua Valley, made from organically grown grapes, looked at the price tag (15$) and figured I was in business.
And, well, I was, pretty much. With its lovely, peony color, somewhere between red and purple, the wine displays very pleasant aromas, starting with the classic eucalyptus/smoke and menthol trademark of Chilean cab, but in no obtrusive way. Cherry and red currant, with a little black tea and herbal touch… There’s just a bit of candyish fruit that I would do without, but otherwise, pretty great.
Taking a good sip, you get a fair amount of red fruit, with some prune compote kicking in (from cold soak, maybe?), and a soft palate with very smooth tannins. Maybe even a little too smooth, really. But mind you, with the nice acidity and the unexcessive alcohol level (13.5%), the wine just drinks itself.
I tasted the wine again yesterday night, and it was still fine. If anything, it tasted fresher, with some fine herb notes I hadn’t previously noticed, but still that little candyish touch I can’t figure exactly. Still very drinkable.
Medium-bodied, it felt a little light with the chicken fajitas we were having as I first tasted it on Sunday night. It would probably go better with veal (throw in some rosemary) or a simple grilled meat. Better yet, a roast chicken.
It’s not necessarily the best wine from Chile I’ve had for under 20$: the Cousino-Macul Antiguas Riserva remains my favorite, and has shown great aging potential over the 15 years I’ve been drinking it. But along with a very nice 2006 The High Trellis Cabernet Sauvignon from d’Arenberg, which also displayed nice balance and drinkability, the Cono Sur is certainly making my perspectives on New World Cabernet more favorable.