- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Marques de Casa Concha, Merlot, Peumo, Chile, 2007, $20

The more wines I taste, the more I become convinced that central Chile must be one of the best places in the world to grow red grapes, particularly those that originally came to the New World from Bordeaux.

The finest contemporary Chilean cabernet sauvignons, merlots and carmeneres rank right alongside the best wines made with these grapes anywhere these days, including the famed vineyards of Bordeaux.

In addition to tasting rich and ripe, as any good wine needs do these days, top Chilean reds offer truly distinctive flavors and aromas. They tend to augment their often lush, forward fruit with secondary notes that echo dried herbs, peppers, leather or savory spice. The end result can be an enthralling melange.

As a general rule, you’ll need to spend upward of $15 or so to get a Chilean wine that will offer this sort of compelling complexity. Less costly bottles, while often very reliable, tend to taste simpler. In many cases, the difference can be traced to the pricier wines coming from vineyards with significantly lower yields. Fewer grapes translate to fewer bottles, but also more concentrated, intense, and intricate flavors.

Marques de Casa Concha’s Merlot, previous vintages of which have been recommended in these pages, exemplifies the extremely high quality coming from Chile at this sort of price. A wine of comparable quality from Bordeaux or California would cost two, three, maybe even four times as much. The 2007, delicious now, should age gracefully and become even more nuanced if cellared for five years or so. (Imported by Banfi.)

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