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Chilean Wines – Cabernet Sauvignon and beyond!
Chile has one of the most extraordinary geographies of any country on our planet. it stretches like a razor clam 4000 kilometres southwards on a coastal strip running from the dry northern climes of the Atacama desert down to the icy landscapes of Antarctica, sandwiched between the Andes on its eastern side and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Wine production in Chile is mostly based around the Central Valley and dates back to the 16th century when it was introduced by the Spanish. Because of the remoteness of the country the vineyards have escaped the ravages of the Phylloxera pest which has threatened wine production globally.I’ve long been a fan of Chilean Cabernet Sauvignons, so I was pleased to be asked to review wines from the Errazuriz winery to get a more rounded view of the grape varieties and wine styles to be found in the country. The Errazuriz winery was founded by Don Maximiano Errazuriz in 1870 who was one of the first wine producers in Chile to bring in French vines. They are obviously still doing something right having been awarded Best Chilean Winery 2017 by American wine guru Robert Parker. We were starting our tasting with two white wines. First up was the Errazuriz Costa Sauvignon Blanc 2017 – with grapes from the Manzanar Vineyard in the Aconcagua valley just 12km from the Pacific. The resulting cool climate is perfect for growing Sauvignon Blanc and helps produce an elegant wine of great freshness and 13.5% alcohol. With citrus and passion fruit on the nose and a classic grassy minerality, it would be a great match with roasted or grilled chicken. Our second white was the Errazuriz Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2017 with 13% alcohol. This was an unusual and delicious wine with a slight fizz made with grapes from the La Escultura vineyard in the Casablanca Valley – again close to the ocean. The use of natural yeasts and a wild fermentation has created a complex flavour profile with bergamot on the nose and vanilla notes from 10 months in French oak. Perfect with fish or as an aperitif!Moving on to the first of our three reds we loved the Errazuriz Estate, Pinot Noir, 2017 13.5% from the Aconcagua Valley. It is light and crisp with strawberry and cherry flavours. I’m regularly drinking Pinot Noirs with fish now and would try it with grilled salmon or tuna or another option would be with pasta or pizza. Here’s Louis York’s Rustic Porchetta and Porcini Pizza recipe which worked wonderfully with the wine for the perfect informal supper.
Makes 3 x 10" Pizzas
- Put your oven on at its highest setting and put in either some pizza stones or heavy bottomed roasting dishes.
- Submerge the mushrooms in hot water and leave to soak.
- Dust a chopping board liberally with the polenta and place the pizza dough on it.
- Divide the dough into three equal parts.
- Roll and stretch the dough to 10" in diameter.
- Leave them under a clean dishtowel to relax while making the sauce.
- Blitz the tomatoes in a food processor with 30ml of olive along, the basil, seasoned well with salt and pepper.
- Pass the mixture through a sieve into a bowl.
- Dollop a small ladle full onto each dough base, leaving free the edges.
- Pile the mozzarella, porchetta and drained mushrooms on top.
- Drizzle with the olive oil and bake in the oven for 8-12 minutes.
- Serve with rocket.
We used Felicity Cloake's recipe for the perfect pizza to make our pizza base. You'll find the recipe here
Available from Harrods, Campbell Moore, Elicite (FWM) and Cru London the Errazuriz Don Maximiano Founder’s Reserve is a wonderful wine that is ideal for a special occasion or a treat. It’s a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon 68.0% Carmenere 18.0% Malbec 9.0% and Petit Verdot 5.0% grapes, all grown in the Aconcagua Valley. With 14% alcohol, it has a smooth and velvety texture with dark chocolate, black fruit and spice notes. Try matching it with red meat, casseroles and big-flavoured cheese.
Our final tasting was of wine from the Mediterranean climate of the Caliterra Estate in the Colchagua Valley. The winery was originally a partnership between the Robert G. Mondavi family and Viña Errázuriz with the latter taking sole ownership in 2004 aiming to produce high quality and environmentally sustainable wines. The Caliterra Pétreo Carmenere 2016 (available from Dulwich Vintners) is made from 100% Carmenere, a variety that has all but disappeared in France but is popular in Chile. The deep-red coloured wine has the warmth of a Merlot and the spice of a Cabernet Sauvignon.with intense aromatic notes of sour cherries.
I loved having the chance to investigate and enjoy a wider range of Chilean wine than I had done previously. There is a range and variety that was unexpected to me and is well worth seeking out.
Wines and Stockists
* Caliterra Petreo Carmenere 2016 – Colchagua valley | RRP: £17.90 | Stockists: Dulwich Vintners (brand new, launched in 2019)
* Errazuriz Costa Sauvignon Blanc 2017 – Aconcagua | RRP: £13.95 | Stockists: Waitrose and Majestic
* Errazuriz Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2017 – Casablanca | RRP: 15.20| Stockists: Majestic
* Errazuriz Estate Pinot Noir 2016 – Aconcagua | RRP: £10.80| Stockists: Majestic and Ocado
* Errazuriz Don Maximiano Founder’s Reserve 2014 – Flagship from Aconcagua | RRP: £64.00 | Stockists: Harrods, Campbell Moore, Elicite (FWM), Cru London
For more pizza recipes and tips about cooking, check out our feature on how to make the perfect pizza with a pizza steel.