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Chile outside


South American value wines adopt new levels of quality.

Greg Horton January 2nd, 2013

Chile established itself as a popular source of value brand wines in the 1990s.

By: Mark Hancock

 Names like Frontera, Concha y Toro and Walnut Crest offered buyers drinkable wines at less than $10.

While Chile remains a value-based market, new names are emerging and better-quality wines are now appearing on metro shelves and wine lists.

Concha y Toro is probably the best known Chilean label. Along with secondary lines like Casillero del Diablo, Terrunyo and Don Melchor, the popular wine is available in Oklahoma.

The quality of Don Melchor Cabernet is well known. It perennially scores in the mid-90s, according to Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. Every vintage is complex and balanced, with the plum and earth notes common to Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon. A good selection of Melchor Cabernets is available at Wild Turkey Finer Wines, 12021 N. MacArthur, and Freeman Liquor Mart, 4401 N. Western.

Also in the Concha y Toro family is the lesser-known Terrunyo. The line is substantially less expensive than Don Melchor, but its quality is exceptional. The Carmenere was a huge hit at the 2011 Oklahoma Wine Forum at Oklahoma State University, and the 2006 vintage made Wine Spectator’s Top 100 in 2009. Byron’s, 2322 N. Broadway, carries the Terrunyo Cabernet.

New to the metro are the wines of Lagar de Bezana. These are, according to Scott Thomasen, “the new face of Chile.” Thomasen, brand manager for the importer, said the wines represent a move away from value wines toward a more serious, established Chilean wine industry.

They certainly show a degree of seriousness, including beautiful packaging not normally associated with the region.

Two of the Lagar wines are available in Oklahoma. The Aluvion Gran Reserva is a red blend, primarily Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.

At about $30, it’s close to Terrunyo in price, but worth the money. Its little sister is the Lagar de Bezana Cabernet; at about $15, it’s one of the best values in Oklahoma.

This wine drinks like a $25 Cabernet. It has remarkable drinkability and is available at Joe’s Place Fine Wine and Spirits, 1330 Alameda, in Norman.

For the charitably inclined, Piggy Bank Syrah is new to the metro. A percentage of each bottle sold goes to charity, with a code on the bottle allowing buyers to donate to the charity of his or her choice.

But this isn’t just a gimmick wine.

Also priced about $15, it is peppery, with plenty of black fruit and spice to even it out. A Sauvignon Blanc and Tempranillo are also available. You can find the Syrah at Broadway Wine Merchants, 824 N. Broadway.

 
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