- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Cousino-Macul, Finis Terrae, Maipo Valley, 2003, $20

Many American consumers think of Chile as a source of inexpensive, reliable red wine. They’re right to do so, but they don’t necessarily know the whole story.

That’s because vintners in Chile also produce some of the world’s finest red wines, regardless of price. The Central Valley region, particularly the Maipo and Rapel valleys, is one of the best places anywhere to grow grapes such as cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and Chile’s own carminere. The top wines made there are simply superb.

The best Chilean reds tend to taste earthier than their California counterparts and fruitier than wines from Bordeaux. Made from long-adapted French grape varieties, they successfully embody the best of the Old and New World wine styles — with rich, ripe fruit flavors enhanced by leathery, mineral-tinged overtones.

Cousino-Macul’s Finis Terrae, a blend of cabernet and merlot, is an excellent example of first-class Chilean red wine. With a firm structure but unobtrusive tannins, it tastes delicious now but should age gracefully for a good decade.

It also has the considerable advantage of costing about half as much as others of comparable quality. So, if you haven’t discovered truly high quality from Chile, this is the wine to try. (Imported by Billington.)

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