richardhod wrote:I hear good Chilean wines really are very good, but have not yet tried a quality one myself.
Not true! I fed you one while you were here, but you just didn't notice because it was a restrained, cool-climate, stylistically-loyal Bordeaux blend. And no one associates anything like that with Chile.
The issue with Chilean wine, or at least in my view, is that despite a fair amount of differentiation between the climates in which grapes are grown, there's very little differentiation in labeling. They've only recently started creating individual appellations, and most wines still only identify one of the country's large administrative regions for their provenance, if that (comparatively, it'd be like American wines labeled "California" or "Washington" and not for blending reasons). Within those regions, a vineyard can be way up in the cool mountains or down in a hot valley.
So while Chilean wines can actually come in a multitude of styles, there's not an easy way to differentiate between them. Admittedly, it's more of an excuse than anything (just because a wine is from Carneros, for instance, doesn't necessarily imply a particular style), but combined with the fact that for most, their only exposure to Chilean wine was to ripe, bomby, hot-climate style grocery store pablum, it's very easy to assume that all Chilean wine comes in such a style, which is patently untrue. Most does, though, so it's not a particularly fatal assumption to make. It also probably doesn't help that Jay Miller is responsible for Wine Advocate's Chilean reviews, so everything automatically gets a 90 and the tasting notes all read "durrr...blackcurrant yum!".
I think the comparison to Australia is apt, and without channeling RPM too much, I would argue that Chile is about where Australia probably was twenty or thirty years ago - a relatively new wine country that hasn't had a lot of time to organize itself, develop unique regional styles, or have a real influx of innovative and adventurous winemakers (though they're certainly getting there). And in order to build up street cred, they're flooding the mass market with decent but relatively tame products. There's a lot of potential in Chile, though, and some sublime growing areas that are ripe for the taking (pun, sadly, intended). I think we'll probably see a lot of affordable artisan wines being made there in the next decade.
Is this one of them? Oh, I dunno.
Lawyer (of sorts) by day. Drinker of fine wines, homebrewer of fine beers, connoisseur of fine Scotches by night.
The current holdings.