Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Chilean Out in the Summer

A future writing headlines for the Sun surely awaits?

The new Herald article has literally hit the shelves today.

Whilst I seem to be saying that drinking red wines is OK in the summer, today is HOT and so I think something cooler really is the way to go. Maybe beer. EMart do a reasonable, cheap wheat beer.

In other news I will be moving into Seoul in September with a new job in Gangnam. Looking at apartments at the moment. There is a possibility we will be getting a flat in Apgujeong whereby Galleria would effectively be my corner shop. Take that wallet.

Chilean Out in the Summer.

It is something of a paradox that where those of us in the cooler northern climates associate summer drinking with white wines, those from hotter regions are much more likely to go for the reds. With this in mind this week we have three red wines for your consideration all under 20,000 won at Emart, each a different grape variety and all from Chile.

Chile is a region that can represent great value once you have sorted the wheat from the chaff. It is a particularly strong country for the Korean consumer due to the free-trade agreement between the two countries. Let’s hope that the US agreement and the proposed European talks can see similar impacts on the respective regions wine showings and prices.

Starting with the cheapest we have the Cono Sur Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 from the Central valley region at 12,800won. Cono Sur are a winery that produce very modern single varietal wines that tend to express well the fruit qualities of the grape.

This is a purple glass of wine with a very tight nose. It is showing very little typical Cabernet character with a touch of cherry and blackcurrant and a hint of perfumed violets. It is a very soft fruity wine with a very real Cherry Lips(old English sweet) quality. The cherry/blackcurrant, rose/violet theme has followed through from the nose giving us a really pleasant, simple fruit and light vanilla drink that I have no qualms about recommending at this price.

Moving to the south of the country and from the somewhat experimental Bio-Bio valley region, next up is the Augustus Winemakers Selection Pinot Noir 2007 at 16,900won. Pinot Noir is enjoying some success in this area of Chile thanks to the slightly lower sunshine hours and temperatures. Hot regions produce Pinots that taste like jam.

This, as one would expect, is fairly light in the glass, Pinot is a delicate, thin skinned grape and so you get a pretty cherry coloured drink. The nose is not the most appealing unfortunately with bees wax and wet hay notes combining with a strong cherry brandy hit. It is a nose suggesting of a very alcoholic wine.

Unfortunately this alcoholic heat is following through to the palate and though it has a nice rounded mouth feel with good acidity and smooth tannins the alcohol throws it all out of balance. The fruit is nice and sweet and there is a subtle vanilla oak integration but with the 14% alcohol it ends up tasting a little like a cough sweet. This is by no means a bad wine it is just not to my tastes.

The final wine is the Santa Rita Reserva Merlot 2005 from the Maipo valley region coming in at 17,900 won. In contrast to the Pinot this is a heavily extracted wine with a deep, intense garnet colour. In contrast to the previous two simple, fruity wines there is a lot more complexity here.

It has a prominent pencil shaving and coffee grinds nose backed up by good blackcurrant and plum fruit. Also coming through are green peppers and the presence of some well integrated oak. Once again this smells a little alcoholic but there is enough interest to prevent this from being a problem and it is a very appealing bouquet.

You are certainly getting a mouth full of wine here with an intense blast of sharp black fruit. Plums and blackcurrant are to the fore nicely backed up by a smooth vanilla finish. The finish also has the benefit of being long with good tannic grip making this by far the most serious wine today. The oak is certainly making itself noticed as is the 14% alcohol but it has enough fruit and structure to make this a well balanced wine. It is another triumph from EMart’s new world red range and represents great value.


Joshua said...


I just found your blog. I've been in Korea 3 years, teaching English and studying wine at WSET. Im also teach students at my Hakwon about wine. I enjoyed reading your blog.

Personally I prefer a slightly chilled Burgundy in Summer. A light Cote de Beune, fruit driven or a NZ Marlborough Pinot. If I want to drink something serious then a 2000 or 2002 NZ Otago Pinot is fantastic. Lots of forest floor, fungi, barnyard earthy tones. Nice vanilla and subtle strawberries.

For great summer drinking I love Cremant Loire Prince Alexandre Methode Traditionelle NV. Only 29,000 from Jell Wines. Mt Nelson NZ SAvignon Blanc is also great value at 28,000. Strong grapefruit on the nose and tomato stalk and cut grass on the palate. Nice balance of acid and fruit. So much better than boring Kim Crawford Sav.

Joshua said...

I like to meet you some time and share some good wines. Maybe at WSET or in Apkujeong. Best Regards,

Joshua Hall.

squirrelandgman said...

Sorry I have taken so long to reply. I have had a very busy few months and have completely neglected the blog.
I would be interested to know how you are getting on with the WSET here. Are you actually studying at the Korean site or distance learning like myself?
Feel free to send me an email and perhaps we can arrange a drink.