The wines of Chile fascinate me. Their creators mix traditional French values with Californian weather and Spanish unpretentiousness. The resulting wines have an international character that fits somewhere between the fruitiness of the New World and the Old World’s class and restraint. Yet they also have a distinctly Chilean accent — a herbal, grassy quality that infuses the ripe fruit.
More than anything, I’ve been impressed by the consistency of Chilean wines. Year after year, wineries like Errazuriz, Casa Lapostolle or Cono Sur offer strong values that are approachable for novices but complex enough for aficionados. Last week, I discussed such a winery, Vina Perez Cruz, and its attempt to market the Cot grape in Ontario. Here are my tasting notes for the rest of their range:
Vina Perez Cruz 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva ($15.95, Vintages #694208)
Perez Cruz’s entry level wine is well built, satisfying and food-friendly. The nose captures the distinctive flavours of Chile and of Cabernet Sauvignon; a rich mix of smoke, bracken and leather. After this rough bouquet, the palate is surprisingly soft and lush. This flavour of fleshy blackberry is delicious, especially since it has a meaty complexity. Past experience has also taught me that it has good potential for short term improvement in the cellar. There’s a lot under the hood for $16. 89/100
Vina Perez Cruz 2009 Limited Edition Syrah Reserva (
$19.95 [Ed. Note: No longer available], Vintages upcoming release #598812)
This is a lovely hybrid between the Shiraz of Australia and the Syrah of France — a generous, fruity red with bite and agility. Aromas of smoke carry from the nose into mellow flavours of pepper, peppermint and plum. Although it has a dark fruitiness, it reveals a lovely floral undertone. 89/100
Vina Perez Cruz 2007 “Liguai” (
$39.95 [Ed Note: No longer available], available by private order from Charton Hobbs)
One of the keys to understanding why expensive wine is expensive is “yield” — the amount of grapes each hectare produces in a year. Low yields are unprofitable, but the lower the yield, the more the flavours of the soil are concentrated in the remaining grapes. Perez Cruz’s Liguai is a blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere where the yield on each plot is about half of what it is in their cheaper wines. As a result, it is a complex and intricate garden of Chile’s classic flavours: sage, lavender and thyme woven into a velvety expanse of fruit. Lovely. 93/100
Vina Perez Cruz 2006 “Quelen” (
$54.95 [Ed. Note: No longer available], available by private order from Charton Hobbs)
Quelen is a blend of the three lesser-known grapes that are usually used only in a supporting role in Bordeaux: Petit Verdot, Carmenere and Cot. Cast into the limelight here, they have an unusual but delicious profile; chalky, mid-weight and multi-hued. The overall impression is a succulent flavour of blueberry infused with notes of mocha, pine needle and anise. 93/100
Matthew Sullivan is a civil litigator in Toronto. He blogs once a month here on lawandstyle.ca. The Short Cellar column also appears in the print edition of Precedent. Matthew can be reached at email@example.com. Follow along on Twitter: @shortcellar.