Category Archives: Chile

Viña Pargua Anka 2012 Red Blend

Maipo Valley, Chile; 14.4% ABV
Produced and Bottled by Viña Pargua Ltda. Paine, Santiago, Chile
$5 at the San Diego – Downtown, CA, store on 4 November


Oh, how I wanted to like thee given the nice label, online MSRP, grape makeup and some decent prior vintage ratings from Wine Enthusiast. This wine reads very sweet to me and if you blindfolded me, I’d guess it were a California-designated Red Blend heavy on Central California fruit. According to the label, while it is 100% estate-grown fruit, shares that it’s 60% Cab, 16% Cab Franc, 10% Merlot, 7% Carmenere, 5% Syrah, 2% Petit Verdot.

I get a lot of raisin and prune on the nose (which is admittedly not my favorite) and dried fruit (as noted) predominantly through the palate. The Cab Franc comes through heavily through the middle and finish of the wine with some pretty grippy tannins if that is your thing and they’re present even after 3 days of being open. This one does stay together and you don’t have to finish it in one night. I suppose for a bigger wine with mid-heavy mouthfeel that is cab-dominated, some would enjoy it but it’s not for me – between the nose and a predominant flavor in the palate, there’s something that’s off-putting but I think it’s the nose carrying through.

It’s not without its virtues if you like what it brings to the table but for me, this one’s a thumbs down.


2010 Santa Alicia “Edición Limitada” Pinot Noir

Casablanca, Chile; 14% ABV
Imported by Halby Marketing, Sonoma, CA
$6.99 at Palo Alto on February 28th

IMG_0084Getting out from under the back-log and wanted to get this up before the sale as I know this is still around in quantity, at least at Palo Alto. This came in with two other Santa Alicia wines (a “Shiraz” which was not good and the “Millantu” red blend which was very good) and I picked up a bottle because the price point seemed nice and the packaging alluded to some quality. A brief web search had me immediately regretting my decision. Wine Enthusiast panned this, giving it 80 points, calling it bitter and astringent. That review was dated 2013, and all I can surmise is that the wine was either totally shut down or that they got a bad bottle. I really liked this and found it a refreshing change of pace from the darker, more brooding pinots that have been around lately.

This wine pours sweet and a little one-dimensional, but after about an hour or so really opens up to display a wide spectrum of strawberry, pomegranate, and red cherry flavors with nice balancing brightness from the acidity. There’s a hint of some mushroom earthiness on the nose, but it doesn’t carry over to the palate. Bright, clean fruit, some oak influence, and no noticeable flaws make this a solid choice for a $7 pinot. Two thumbs up from me, especially for $5.60 on the sale next week.

Errazuriz 2013 Sauvignon Blanc “Max Reserva”

D.O. Aconagua Costa, Chile; 13% ABV
$5 at the Richmond, CA, store on 29 June

Errazuirz_2013_SauvBlancResI thought this was a very well-made wine, with flavors mainly of lemon, yellow melon, and less ripe gooseberry / green bell pepper, in a tight and elegant minerally structure.  However, the acid was a bit too sharp for me.  Even after the second half of the bottle had been sitting in the fridge for a few days, the wine was very similar: still nicely structured but a bit too tart for my taste.  Those who like wine especially crisp may consider this Thumbs Up.

Morandé 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva

Maipo Valley, Chile; 14% ABV
$5 at the Richmond, CA, store on 20 March

Morande_2009_CabSauvThis has been at the Richmond store for a while, and had always looked interesting, so I thought I’d try one while waiting for the sale to start.  It’s not my favorite, but it’s pretty good wine for the money.

Maybe take this with a grain of salt since I’m “the air guy,” but this wine really needs some air, so I’d recommend decanting it for about an hour and a half.  I thought it continued to improve, becoming darker and riper, during the time we drank the first 3/4 bottle, up to 3 hours after opening.  The wine showed typical Cabernet flavors of ripe red / purple cherry, blackcurrant, and (with more air) blackberry, with a definite note of green bell pepper that became more submerged as the wine opened.  The finish was slightly rough to my taste, suggesting to me that this wine is near the end of its life, but this was not too bad on its own and was easily smoothed over with food.

The saved single-glass, screwcap bottle confirms my impression that the wine is a little past its prime.  The flavors are much the same, but the green bell pepper has gotten stronger and the finish more abrasive.  It’s still tasty enough with food, but it’s probably better consumed in one evening, and soon.

2011 “Antu” Syrah by Viña Ninquén

Chilean Mountain Vineyard; 14.5% ABV
$6 at the Richmond, CA, store on 30 Nov.  Long gone from there.

Antu_2011_SyrahThis wine, after being decanted off sediment, was pretty good at first pour, but definitely improved with 40 – 60 minutes in a decanter.  It showed ripe, earthy, gently tangy flavors of dark red cherry, blueberry, less ripe blackberry, and hibiscus tea / red roses, in a smooth, elegant, and more thickly textured body.  There is only the slightest hint of the green bell pepper that some here abhor.  Judging by how the glass of dregs from the decanting tasted — not bad but definitely more crude — I recommend decanting this wine off its sediment.

This wine was one of the few I’ve seen that cost more than $2 or $3 that became very popular in the store and sold rapidly.  I got one when it arrived, but I was delayed getting to it by a cold, and in the meantime it vanished from the Richmond store.  If you find any still languishing somewhere, get it.  🙂

Nativa Terra 2014 Sauvignon Blanc

Colchagua Costa Valley, Chile
made with organic grapes; 13.5% ABV
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store about a week ago

NativaTerra_2014_SauvBlancOn the first night, I had just a glass (maybe less) of this while making dinner.  While the nose was delightful with yellow flowers and gooseberries, I found the taste didn’t quite deliver, being a little light and thin, with a little too much acid for the body.  It might have come around more if I had waited a little longer.

The next day, the wine has filled out a little more in body and a lot more in flavor and is pretty good, although still a little on the acid side for me.  The wine tastes of less ripe gooseberry, yellow melon, with some grassiness / maybe green bell pepper, finishing with zesty acid.  I’m on the fence for Thumbs Up or Drinkable, but I’ll go with the folks who have been very enthusiastic about this wine.

Las Huertas 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon “Grande Reserve”

from Domaines Barons de Rothschild [Lafite]
in the Colchagua Valley, Chile; 14.0% ABV
$5 at the Richmond, CA, store on 12 Sept

LasHuertas_2011_CabernetThis wine looked extremely promising, and, while it has some issues, I liked it very much.

The first issue is that it took bloody 3.5 hours in a decanter to fully air (even I’m complaining about it 🙂 ).  However, then, it was delicious, with dry, earthy, elegant fruit of blackberry, dark Bing cherry, a little boysenberry and redder cherry, a hint of green bell pepper (the second issue, since some strenuously object to this), and black pepper / earth, with nicely balancing acid.  IMO, this is very good wine for the price, and it could easily last a few more years in cool storage.

The next day, the saved, single-glass, screw-cap bottle was pretty good right away, but developed more with air.  Then, the fruit was a little redder, more integrated, and the green bell pepper flavor was stronger, although still in good enough balance for me.  Still pretty good, but on the whole, it was better the first night, except for the airing time.

Echeverria 2011 Unwooded Chardonnay “Classic Collection”

Curico Valley, Chile; 13% ABV
$3 at the Oakland, CA, store on 31 March

Echeverria_2011_UnwdChardThis wine, the last of my Echeverria purchases, shows typical Chardonnay flavors of slightly floral, riper yellow apple and lemon in a pleasant taste, with a touch of something that might be a little too much sulfur.  Still, for this low price, it is eminently quaffable, having held up well over three days.

Echeverria 2011 Carmenere “Classic Collection”

Curico Valley, Chile; 13.5% ABV
$3 at the Richmond, CA, store on 1 April

Echeverria_2011_CarmenereOn the last day of the sale (for those stores open on Easter), EHL commented on this wine:

Upon opening, the wine was a brilliant dark ruby-purple color, with a muted nose that didn’t open for about an hour, whereupon it revealed notes of blackberry, black cherry, tar, leather and espresso in both aroma and flavor.

There was also a vegetal element, that distinctly reminded me of the RLT Cabs. In fact, this wine really tastes remarkably similar to the those smooth and memorable South African Cabs.

I very much enjoyed this medium/full-bodied wine, that was nicely balanced with fruit, acid and tannins working in harmony, providing an inviting sweet and savory contrast. As to the finish, it was lingering and marked by a peppery, spicy aftertaste.

For the price of “Two-Buck Chuck,” you can get this substantive wine which received a “Silver Medal and Best Buy” designation from the Beverage Tasting Institute. While not a stunner, the ’11 Echeverria Carmenere delivers a lot of punch for the pennies and is perfect for a daily quaffer.

I picked up a case… and there are still about 10 cases left, which even post-sale presents quite the bargain!

I agree!  I finally got to my bottle, probably too late for me to go back and get more, sale or not.  My notes were: Full-bodied, darker boysenberry / blackberry, plum, darker red cherries, green bell pepper, a little tar / black pepper and caramelly earth.  Slightly rough straight out of the decanter, but smooths out very nicely in the glass.  Very nice now, after about 75 minutes in a decanter, but should hold on fine for the next year or two.

The saved half bottle (stoppered in a 375ml bottle with very little air) was, if anything, better.  It still needed about 45 minutes in the glass, but then was darker and richer than on the first night.

Anakena 2006 Single Vineyard Carménère

Rapel Valley, Chile; 14% ABV
$3 at the Richmond, CA, store on 3 April

Anakena_2006_CarmenereThis wine looked quite promising: older, nice label, in a heavy bottle.  Indeed, it’s pretty good from first pour.  However, I thought it needed about 75 minutes in a decanter to open up to show softly textured flavors of red cherries, red and black raspberries (almost blackberry) with some complexities of tar, and a little green bell pepper,  (The green bell pepper element lessens distinctly as the wine airs.)  The wine is nicely elegant and subtly complex, and is an outstanding value at $3.  However, it strikes me as perfectly aged, so don’t wait long to drink it.

The next day, the second half (stoppered in a 375ml bottle with very little air) was at least as good.  The fruit was more rich and dark, slightly more tarry.  If you don’t mind the green bell pepper component, which I know is anathema to some readers, this stuff is terrific for the price.  Again, just drink it pretty soon.