I’ve spent a certain amount of time and space in this column discussing “the next big thing” trendiness of wines, which sometimes goes to grapes, such as what happened with Pinot Noir after a very popular movie, but also goes to regions, such as France for a long, long time, but also including Spain and Australia. After the wines of Spain were driven up in price by demand, the search was on for another hidden gem and a lot of noise was made about Argentina and Chile. Those two South American regions have at least some decent entries, but for all the testing I did, it didn’t quite bear out. I have, in fact, after somewhat extensive testing (it’s generally the same for each region, depending on availability) a single entry from Argentina (the Navarro Correas, which was the second edition of the HSC) and a single entry from Chile, which is this one.
Unlike Argentina, which relies somewhat heavily on the Malbec grape, Chilean wines trend much more heavily towards Carmenere, such as this one. Carmenere can be a very bitey grape in a wine, often hidden behind waves of astringency which never quite vanish. This is one of the smoother ones and represents perhaps the best introduction to this grape, which can be quite capable in the right hands. What we have here is another fruit-forward wine that smooths out nicely, retaining a good bit of acidity and tannins to provide an excellent balance. It is definitely not a one-note wine, though and a good deal of complexity will appear as it breathes. It does not make a good slugging wine, but as a sipping wine, it’s right up there with the best. This is another that will do better the more it breathes, but it needs a good 20 minutes initial air time.
At $10 a bottle, this is easily one of the best values on the list and as such, makes an easy Standard, just like the other South American entry, the Navarro Correas.