A fresh look at Chilean wines

Posted on: 10th April, 2017

Category: The Wine Buff

Contributor: Tony Eklof

Tony Eklof, originally from New England, has settled in Clonakilty after a career as a librarian at University College Dublin. His knowledge and passion for wine has been inspired by frequent visits to the wine growing regions of the continent, particularly Italy and France.

I was reading recently a fascinating article about a father and son from the tiny village of Ballynary in Sligo who both made names for themselves in Chile in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The father, Ambrose O’Higgins, was a conservative, and served the Spanish South American rulers eventually becoming Governor of Chile. The son, Bernardo, was a revolutionary and a leader of newly independent Chile, now revered by Chileans as a national hero.

It got me thinking about Chile, and the impact that the overthrow of the democratically-elected government of Salvatore Allende in 1973 had on me, as a young, idealistic man at the time. As it was revealed that the American CIA had undermined the Allende government and ushered in the notorious Pinochet regime, I would never again think that my country was always on the side of the good guys. (Perhaps you have seen the film Missing, the true story of an American journalist’s disappearance during the aftermath of the coup, and featuring one of Jack Lemmon’s finest performances.)

I’m not sure that the events above led indirectly to my admitted neglect of Chilean wines. More likely that for years, there was a sameness to the product. Anyone for a cheap Cabernet or Merlot from Chile?

Another factor is that the Chilean climate and growing conditions lead to high alcohol levels, which I find myself shying away from. I have a Cabernet from one of the top growers in my cave but at 14.5 per cent, I keep finding reasons not to pop the cork.

There have been exceptions. One of my favourite restaurants in Dublin was a classy Chinese place in Stillorgan whose house wine was the very fine Antiguas Reservas from the House of Cousino Macul, and this powerful full-bodied red made a perfect if unconventional accompaniment to the spicy dishes on offer.

Now it is time for me to have a rethink. Two factors have influenced me. The quality of Chilean wines has improved dramatically and there has been a move away from big oaky wines to more subtle and approachable types. The emergence of the Carmenere grape, as the country’s flagship has lifted the profile of Chilean wine. Carmenere (pronounced carmeneary) is an old Bordeaux variety, which yields rich and deep wines when grown in the valleys (Maipo, Rapel, Maule) of the Andes.

The second factor is the unquestioned popularity of Chilean wine with you, the consumers. A few years ago sales of Chilean wine in Ireland (two million cases!) overtook both previous leaders Australia and France so that Chilean wine is now officially the most popular in Ireland.

This month’s recommendation: Vistamar Sepia Reserva, Carmenere 2015. O’Donovan’s Wines, Bandon, €13. Deep violet in colour, tastes of vanilla and mocha, a lovely drop, and only 13.5 per cent.

westcorkwinebuff@gmail.com.

Latest News Articles:

West Cork girls among first to earn Irish Girl Guides’ new engineering badge
What is GDPR and who does it affect?
Kinsale historic map project launched
Dunmanway launches year-long celebration of Sam Maguire
Sam Maguire School Tour launched
Fundraising drive to get Kinsale students to World Robotics Championships to Kentucky
Answer the Call to save lives on March 23
Clonakilty students return from trip of a lifetime to rural Malawi
Clonakilty Fairtrade Fortnight celebrates 15 years
€44 million to improve Cork roads

Join us on Facebook

... See MoreSee Less

13th April, 2018  ·  

An evening on the 'Balance of Feeling Good' by Clonakilty Gaa Club Health and Wellbeing Committee followed by Guest Speaker, Cork GAA Chairperson, Tracey Kennedy.

Paddy Duggan, former Principal of Clonakilty Community College, will be MC on the night, facilitating a discussion on getting the balance of feeling good.
Contributors on the night are Colm Sheehy, Conor Murray, David Lowney, Denis Murphy, Eoghan Deasy, Sean McEvoy, Thomas Clancy and Treasa O'Brien.
Topics covered will range from awareness and responsibility to yourself and others to the benefits of exercise and nutrition.
The evening is suitable for everyone aged 16 and over from players, members of the community, parents of young and adolescent children, etc.

This is a public event, free of charge and everyone is invited and very welcome to attend.
... See MoreSee Less

12th April, 2018  ·  

The Cast of Harold Pinter’s ‘No Man’s Land’ are on their way to the All-Ireland finals, having won 26 awards, including five best of Festivals, at the Amateur Drama League of Ireland annual three act festivals. The play ‘No Man’s Land, by Harold Pinter, the Nobel Prize Winning Author is directed by Jennifer Williams.

One last opportunity to view this multi award winning play at Skibbereen Town Hall, on Saturday 14th of April, before the finals.

Having met by chance in a pub, two aging writers continue a long night of drinking and reminiscing in a stately London home. As the night wears on, their conversation wanders through memories long forgotten or invented. Is their encounter real or a delusion? Are they strangers or do they share a past history? When unexpected guests intrude upon an increasingly surreal evening, the atmosphere quickly changes from friendly to threatening, and the encounter becomes a game of survival.

Tickets may be purchased at the door or in advance by emailing schulldramagroup@gmail.com

For more information please contact hilary.mccarthy6@gmail.com
... See MoreSee Less

9th April, 2018  ·  

Jump to:

Top