In spite of the oceans of wine Chile produces, I've never taken it seriously as a wine country. There was a time in the early 2000s when they excelled at cheap and cheerful, but somewhere along the way they lost the cheerful. The cheap wines morphed from fruit forward and inoffensive to jammy and over made or filthy and confected. There are the occasional exceptions but they are few, far between and not really worth the effort of sifting through the dross to find them.
There's also the small matter of institutional fraud that comes with one of the more popular varieties in the cheap and cheerful(?) crowd. Wines advertised as Sauvignon Blanc from Chile are unlikely to be so. More likely than not, they are mostly Sauvignonasse/Sauvignon Vert. However, there is no repercussion for this fraud because once this oversight was widely realised, the Chilean wine governing body simply refused to accept that any grape planted as Sauvignon Blanc in Chile was anything other than Sauvignon Blanc. According to them, Sauvignonasse simply does not exist in Chile.
What a bunch of bullshit, huh?
There are some decent wines at a high level - Don Maximiano, Almaviva, Seña etc, but they tend to be quality in kind of a boring way. Delicious, but lacking a sense of place.
The pinots are a minefield - either too candied, sweet and confected or riddled with hot, off farmyard notes that seem to be an attempt at manufactured complexity. Structure in particular seems to be a fairy tale when it comes to these wines.
Which brings us to tonight's wine. Montes's top range, the Montes Alpha wines, are not bad. I've sold them on and off for years. American golfers used to love pairing the Cabernet with a delicately grilled fillet of halibut and I could do nothing to stop them. This 'Limited Selection' branding is new to me. It can't be that limited as Majestic have them on sale for £7.99. This wine in particular has received rave reviews on their site, suggesting many a happy customer.
Dark ruby but still with pinot translucence. Good brightness.
Nose is pulped red fruit and cook berries. There's a greasy savoury-ness and a barn and matchstick hit that follows the fruit. Subsequent sniffs and the order gets mixed up.
What should I expect from £8 pinot? Am I being too critical? Is my sore shoulder and head ruining this wine for me? Because this doesn't have any definition. It's jammy, unpleasantly savoury and inconsistent. There's an oiliness to the finish that reminds me of eating junk food. Liquorice comes and goes. It could be far worse. I'm not recoiling with each sip.
I hate this wine. I can think of better bottles for a fiver. They won't be Chilean and they won't be Pinot Noir, but there you go.
Tasted at Shorehead 17 December 2011