The spice of Latin life
Chile's wines are among our most popular purchases because they are fruity, flavour-packed and offer value consistently. Yet trading up a little from the introductory level to a new oak-barrel-aged Reserva delivers a bigger jump in quality than price.
The porous oak allows the wine to breathe and evolve while maturing, increasing the wine's lifespan, while adding spicy aromas and flavours.
Chile's sunny and warm climate guarantees fully ripe grapes, accounting for the rich flavours. Cabernet Sauvignon thrives in this vine paradise and its wine loves, in particular, the spicy enhancement from ageing in new barrels of oak.
The diverse Maipo Valley has three distinct vineyard sectors, ranging from the eastern foothills of the Andes Mountains, bordering Argentina and stretching to the western Pacific coast, where ancient marine soils give a mineral character to the elegant wines.
The Colchagua Valley has its reputation built on full-bodied reds from the warmer vineyards further inland.
Cabernet Sauvignon is best matched with beef and lamb for its high acidity and firm tannins. Bon appetit.
1) Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 Medalla Real, Santa Rita, Maipo Valley, 14.5pc
Complex tobacco leaf and cigar-box bouquet. Concentrated nutmeg and spice integrated into the velvety cassis fruit. Firm tannins and a spicy finish.
€18.99 nationwide at Superquinn; Dunnes Stores; Tesco and O'Briens Fine Wines
2) Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Vina Ulmo, Central Valley, 13pc
Ripe berry fruity aromas. Fresh and juicy blackcurrant fruits. Moderate alcohol and balanced acidity.
€9.79 at Marks & Spencer nationwide
3) Rayuela Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Viu Manent, Colchagua Valley, 13.5pc
Aromas of leather and raspberries. Spicy and fruity flavours, ripe and ready now. An elegant and spicy finish.
€11.99 at Ivan's, Limerick and Holland's, Bray. In Dublin: Baggot Street Wines; Whelan's, Wexford Street, and Village off-licence, Castleknock
4) Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 Botalcura, Central Valley, 13.5pc
Sappy rosehips and red-fruit aromas. Very refreshing with juicy, crunchy blueberries. Lively and youthful with no oak influence.
€12.50 in Dublin at Searson's Wines, Monkstown; Parting Glass; Next Door Sweeney's, Meath Street; Sweeney's, Glasnevin, and Nolan's, Clontarf
5) Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 Perez Cruz, Maipo Valley, 13.5pc
Fragrant with blackberries and polished oak. Juicy black fruits, cassis, mellow tannins and balanced alcohol.
€11.99 at Worldwide Wines, Waterford. In Dublin: Wines on the Green; Baggot Street Wines; McCabe's, Blackrock; Gables, Foxrock; Nolan's, Clontarf; Donnybrook Fair; Lord Mayor's off-licence, Swords; Martin's, Off-Licence; Blackrock Cellar; McHugh's, Kilbarrack; The Vintry; Jus de Vin, Portmarnock, and Deveney's, Rathmines
6) Legado Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 De Martino, Maipo Valley, 13.5pc
Spicy and oaky scents followed by intense flavours of blackcurrant fruit and peppery spice. Firm, meat-friendly tannins.
€17.50 at Ardkeen Superstores, Waterford; La Touche Wines 4U, Greystones, Co Wicklow. In Dublin: Redmond's, Ranelagh; Thomas's, Foxrock; Donnybrook Fair; Sweeney's, Glasnevin, and The Corkscrew, Chatham Street
7) Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 Carmen, Maipo Valley, 14pc
Cassis and cinnamon aromas. Delicious ripe and blackcurrant jam with infused spices. Smoothly textured and a black-fruit compote finish.
€17.99 nationwide at Dunnes Stores, Superquinn and Tesco