Wine Blogging Wednesday #52: Value Reds from Chile

By Kori ~ December 10th, 2008.

Our host for the December edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday, the blogosphere’s monthly virtual wine tasting event, is Tim Lemke of Cheap Wine Ratings. Tim selected Value Reds from Chile as the theme with these parameters, “The rules are any red wine from Chile for $20 or less. If you can find a really good one for closer to $10, better yet.” Given the premise of Tim’s blog, we chose to go the cheaper route. We selected two under $10 Chilean Cabernet Sauvignons.

“Chilean winemakers have been developing a distinct style for their Cabernet Sauvignon, producing an easy drinking wine with soft tannins….” –Wikipedia

While other varietals are starting to come on the scene, Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely king in Chile. Chile has been producing wine since the mid-1800s when Europeans brought vinifera grape varieties from Bordeaux. Thankfully this was before the phylloxera and powdery mildew outbreaks in Europe so Chile boasts some very precious European vine cuttings that avoided the plague.

The first bottle that I selected was the 2006 Los Vascos Cabernet Sauvignon from the Colchagua Valley of Chile. I was intrigued by this wine because Los Vascos is owned by Domaines Baron de Rothschild of France (of Lafite Rothschild fame). I was curious to see what an $8 bottle of wine from a company known for their $300 bottles would taste like. While it is a decent sipper, it certainly bears no resemblance to its more prestigious cousin.

Since we at Wine Peeps believe in blind tasting, I wanted to find another bottle to taste against the Los Vascos. To keep the tasting fair, I wanted to find another wine from the same vintage at a similar price point. Once my choices were narrowed, I selected the 2006 Calina Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva from the Valle Central of Chile. While the Calina was better than the Los Vascos, neither knocked our socks off.

Neither of these wines was as big as most traditional Cabs. For me, that was disappointing. However, if Cabs tend to generally be too bold for you, one of these might be good to try. And for $8, what would it hurt to give it a shot?

2006 Calina Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva (Valle Central, Chile): Dark purple with dark berry aromas. Spicy and earthy. A decent sipper; not a big traditional Cab. Medium finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to Buy: Pete’s Wine Shop (Bellevue), $7.49; Available elsewhere, $8 to $10

2006 Los Vascos Cabernet Sauvignon (Colchagua, Chile): Ruby red in color and somewhat transparent. Aromas of chili peppers and bell peppers lead to a distinctive baked cherry pie flavor on the palate. A decent sipper; not a big traditional Cab. Not very complex, not well-balanced, short finish.
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to Buy: Pete’s Wine Shop (Bellevue), $7.99; Available elsewhere, $8 to $20

Filed under: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chilean Wine, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Red Wine, Wine Blogging Wednesday, Wines Under $10

Reader's Comments

  1. Dale Cruse | December 10th, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    Sorry you didn’t enjoy either of your Cabs. I had a pretty decent Syrah, however.

  2. Tim | December 10th, 2008 at 5:49 pm

    Great QPR and decent sippers is a great way to characterize a lot of Chilean wine in this price range. They’re not going to knock your socks off, but can be enjoyable if you’re on a budget. Thanks for your contribution.

  3. Kori | December 11th, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy them. They were both decent sippers; they just didn’t knock my socks off. But both are great buys at 5 bangs for your buck. Glad to hear that you had a good Syrah.

    Thanks for hosting. You’re exactly right. These are both good options if you are on a budget.

  4. Affordable Red Wine from Chile - Wine Blogging Wednesday 52 | December 13th, 2008 at 9:26 am

    […] at Wine Peeps tried two bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon.  She tried the 2006 Calina Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva and […]

  5. mike beltran | May 1st, 2009 at 9:54 pm

    Chilean Cabernet can be much fuller than the wines reviewed but for not much more than $8. Recently have had Santa Ema Reserve ’05 and Santa Rita Reserva ’06 the Ema is $10 Santa Rita $15.—- each wine is as good as any quality Cab coming from Napa or other quality areas. They are vinified and aged in a similar manner and the end product is so rewarding. Chile looks like what the Napa Valley was in the ’40s. Farming lands and lush hillsides full of natures bounty. It is the California of South America. Topography and climate are quite similar. As in Argentina, the labor force is large, skilled and work for nominal pay. Money has come into the wine areas and improved all levels of wine. Foreign capital has made it possible to turn wines which at one time were low in fruit, oxydized and poorly made, into at times world class wines, ie: Montes, Casa Lapostolle, Mont Gras, Los Vascos, Santa Rita, Concha y Toro, etc. Prices for the most part are as I mentioned from the start of this response. Chile is on a roll and it is in your best interest to take advantage of it…. Mike B.