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SI Tasting Panel tastes Chilean wines available in India

DSC03418.JPGSITP meet 30 August 2012: The good news for lovers of Pinot Noir is that they can happily look beyond Burgundy. With Burgundian Pinot Noirs remaining stubbornly expensive in India, the Sommelier India Tasting Panel decided to taste through more accessibly priced Pinot Noirs from Chile. Chile's reputation for value is well established. Less well known is the fact that Chile is one of the few countries in the world that produces accessibly priced Pinot Noir with good varietal character, writes Gaurav Anand. Left to right: Gagan Sharma, Rukn Luthra, Reva K. Singh, Gaurav Anand and Niladri Dhar of the SI Tasting Panel

The wines we tasted were all priced at less than Rs 1700 for a 750ml bottle, making these good values by Indian standards. The wines were tasted blind and scored using a standard 20-point scale. All wines rated good or very good on the Sommelier India tasting scale.

The wines are listed in ascending order of the tasting panel's preference. The prices listed are the maximum retail prices (MRP) in retail in Delhi. The first two wines are recommended, while the last two wines are highly-recommended. Not surprisingly for Pinot Noir, the two highest scoring wines in our tasting were from the cool-climate regions of Casablanca and Leyda Valleys.

SITP Pinot Noirs.JPG
Anakena Pinot Noir 2009, Central Valley. MRP Rs 1,090. Distributor: High Spirits
Straight-forward red berry fruit character, with some secondary notes of bottle-age. Not a complex nose, but a pleasurable example of well-made entry-level Pinot Noir. A light body and pale colour make this a simple, easy-to-enjoy wine.

Castello di Molina Pinot Noir 2010, Curico Valley. MRP Rs 1,490.
Distributor: Brindco

A clean, fresh strawberry-scented nose with hints of sweet spices. On the palate the wine was rich, with a slight smokiness on the finish. Some tasters pointed out the wine felt slightly unbalanced with high alcohol - though others merely pointed to richness coming from very ripe fruit of a warm vintage or warm region.

Tarapaca Pinot Noir El Rosal 2011, Casablanca Valley. MRP Rs 1,550.
Distributor: Brindco

A very good wine from a consistent producer. The nose, a mix of red and black fruits interlaced with sweet spices - a very nice and 'typical' Pinot nose. The wine really shone on the palate, with good persistence, length and complexity.

Anakena ONA Pinot Noir 2010, Leyda Valley. MRP Rs 1,680.
Distributor: High Spirits

Our top scoring wine of the evening (separated by just the slightest margin from the Tarapaca El Rosal), this wine was different from the others in that it was a blend. Pinot Noir is rarely blended with other varieties (except in making sparkling wines). This example was a blend of Pinot Noir with small quantities of Merlot, Viognier and Syrah. Decent complexity on the nose with red and ripe berry fruit woven into smoky oak notes. Long finish, with smooth fine-grained tannins.


DSC03415.JPGAfter the Pinot Noir tasting, the panel veered towards what is more traditional territory for Chile: Merlot and Carménère. Again, the wines were tasted blind and scored using a standard scale. To keep things interesting, one Carménère was included in the tasting alongside
two Merlots.

Tasting blind, at least a few members of the tasting panel handily spotted the Carménère in the line-up. All wines rated good or very good on the Sommelier India tasting scale. The wines are listed below, in ascending order of the tasting panel's preference. The prices listed are the maximum retail prices (MRP) in retail in Delhi.

Montes Merlot Reserva 2010, Valle de Colchagua. MRP Rs 1,530.
Distributor: Sonarys

A clean, youthful nose of plums, sweet spices and a hint of chocolate, and Christmas cake. The nose displayed a jammy ripeness that came through on the rich palate. High extract showed as a slight bitterness on the finish, and the alcohol felt high too.

Armador Carmenere 2011, Central Valley. MRP Rs 1,420.
Distributor: Amfora

An interesting nose loaded with blackberry, coffee and chocolate and sweet spices. On the palate, the wine was full-bodied with noticeable youthful tannins, which was not a surprise for a wine bottled only recently. The wine displayed good balance and persistence, leading to a medium finish.

Caliterra Merlot Reserva 2009, Valle de Colchagua. MRP Rs 1,340.
Distributor: FineWinesNMore

The top-scoring wine of the tasting, the Caliterra was a surprise as it came out ahead of the well-regarded Montes. The very simple nose was ripe and chock full of plums, and red currant fruit with a slightly earthy edge that gave the nose some complexity. Good concentration, with very good persistence and length.


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