Saturday 20 January 2018

Chilean Merlots that pack a punch

No 1: Montes Classic series merlot.
No 1: Montes Classic series merlot.
Value buy - Albarino 2013.

Twenty-four Chilean Merlots under €16 were blind-tasted to check if the country we buy most of our wines from can still deliver reliable quality at lower prices. The results showed that, yes she can, with eight wines achieving over 80% scores.

However, the one common factor that cost wines marks was an excessive use of oak in the wine making. At worst, the wood was more a coffin concealing the Merlot's plummy fruity personality. At best, the oak provided a contrast to frame the fruit and highlight it with a peppery spiciness.

1) Montes Classic Series Merlot 2012, Colchagua Valley 14pc

Perfumed with vanilla and blackberry. Delicious intense fleshy plum flavours supported by firm tannins and a peppery finish. Match with a fillet of beef on a puddle of port wine sauce.

€15.99 at Malt House, Trim; Mannings, Ballylickey; Thomas Woodberry's Wines, Galway;

Anderson's, Glasnevin; Clontarf Wines; Blackrock Cellar and Donnybrook Fair. Online:

2) Santa Helena Varietal Merlot 2013, Central Valley 13pc

Freshly crushed redcurrant aromas. Spiced blackberry fruit, mellow and peppery. Enjoy with cheddar and chutney.

€7.99 at EuroSpar, Spar & Mace stores nationwide

3) Errazuriz Estate Series Merlot 2012, Valle de Curico 13.5pc

Earthy bouquet. Classic spicy plum varietal character. Well balanced by moderate alcohol and mellow tannins. Sautée strips of liver and onions sauced with cream and mustard.

€11.99 nationwide at SuperValu; Centra; Next Door Off-licences; O'Brien's Off-licences; Londis; Molloy's Off-licences, Dublin and many independent off-licences

4) Casa Lapostele Merlot 2012, Rapel Valley 13.5pc

Savoury scents mirrored on the palate by tasty and spiced meat and very satisfying. Serve with stir-fried strips of beef spiced with cardamoms and root ginger.

€11.99 at Londis KCR Kimmage; Vintry, Rathgar and La Touche, Greystones.

5) Casillera del Diablo Merlot Reserva, Concha Y Toro, Valle Central 13.5pc

Spiced plum fruity aromas and flavours. Fleshy and silky smooth texture and peppery finish. Vegetate with a Moroccan aubergine harira.

€12.35 to €12.99 nationwide in Tesco and Dunnes Stores, currently on price promotion at €9.50.

6) Santa Alicia Merlot Reserva 2012, Valle del Maipo 14pc

Fruity damsons and green plum nose. Lovely ripe plum and nutmeg spiced palate. Companion with cottage pie.

€12.49 at Curious Wines, Cork and Naas; online: and Rednose Wine, Clonmel.

7) Rayuela Merlot Reserva 2012 by Viu Manent, Valle de Colchagua 14pc

Creamy mocha coffee and red berry core. Peppery and plummy. Loves a gamey bird, quail, pigeon or guinea-fowl.

€12.99 at Holland's, Bray; Higgins, Clonskeagh; Village Off-licence, Clonskeagh; Martin's, Fairview and online:

8) De Martino Legado Merlot Reserva 2012, Valle del Maipo 13.5pc

Scents of freshly sawn wood. A rich, deep pile fabric of velvety textured fruits - opulent blackberries cloaked in an expensive oaky robe. Pair with a Hungarian Goulash, heavy on the paprika.

€15.99 at Higgins, Clonskeagh; Drinkstore; Kelly's, Vernon Ave; Jus de Vine, Portmarnock; Martin's of Fairview

Best value

Albarino 2013, Laurent Miquel, Lagrasse Village, Southern France 12.5pc

Dry with a very zesty palate of fresh grapefruit, tingling mouth-watering citrus acidity and a lime finish. Chill with a platter of seafood or sushi.

€11.50 from €17.00 at Dunnes Stores nationwide until 29th September.

Irish Independent

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