Chilean Merlots that pack a punch
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: thewineshop.ie
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: curiouswines.ie 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: drinkstore.ie
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
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.