Chilean wines often seem to exude an exciting quality. A certain spiciness perhaps, stemming from the exotic nature of their country of origin.
Maybe it’s mere word association altering my perceptions, but there’s something about drinking a wine grown in this far-off clime – with its stark mountains, clear air and alpacas bleating into the night – that is alluring. More so than, say, California. Which of course I’d like to go and live in, and produces some great wine, but it doesn’t quite have the same air of romance as “Casablanca Valley in Chile”, from which this 2009 vintage emerged into the light.
It was a good valley to emerge in. A relatively recent addition to the country’s wine growing regions (the mid 1980s), the producers’ gambit of changing tack and planting in a cool coastal area has paid off – Casablanca Valley has gained something of a reputation for a crisp acidity in its whites that warmer regions struggle to reach.
I’ve been impressed by New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, so was interested to taste what a Chilean producer could bring to the dining table at a similar bit-over-£7 price point. This is the country of super-value red and whites that punch above the range of their £5 price range, so what difference a few extra quid?
The difference is what you don’t taste. Here there is no cloying acid in the throat, the flavours don’t overwhelm, the tang isn’t too much.
The nose is pungent, oozing ripe melon begging to be sliced and fresh citrus. Colour is notably bright and crystal clear, a fine scattering of tiny bubbles suspended in pale yellow gold.
Taste is sharp and fizzy. It tingles on the tongue with gooseberry and green apples. This is the mouth-puckering region of the fruitbowl, but not unpleasantly so.
And it slips down easily, with or without food. None of that nasty coating of the throat you sometimes get with cheaper whites. This is real smooth – it makes its mark for a dignified amount of time, then dissipates leaving a flavoursome but refined finish. It’s 13.5% but the level of zing here masks any unnecessary sugar or warmth.
Of course this wine isn’t particularly complex, and for some reason isn’t as memorable as the Malborough from New Zealand I tried. But for good clean Sauv Blanc fun, it’s definitely up there.
A word of warning though – it tasted terrible a day after opening. One to enjoy in one go it seems.
Any excuse, eh?