Cousino-Macul rules Chilean wine
By Darryl Beeson
Chile has a long history of
wine making, going back to the
conquistadores who brought
grape vines with them in the mid 16th Century and planted
vineyards.. In the mid 18th century, French varietals such as
Cabernet Sauvignon and
Merlot were introduced. However, government decrees prohibited the planting
of new vineyards between 1938 and 1974.
In the early 1980s a renaissance began with the
introduction of stainless steel fermenters and the use of oak barrels for
ageing. Subsequently, the export business grew very quickly and large amounts of
quality wines were produced. The number of wineries has grown from 12 in 1995 to
over 70 in 2005. Chile is now the fourth largest exporter of wines to the United
States. Cousino-Macul is the producer to watch closely.
The climate has been described as midway between that of
California and France. The most common grapes are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and
Carmenère, which is often regarded as perhaps the most suitable grape for
the Chilean climate.
In international competitions, Chilean wines have proven to
be among the best in the world. For example, in the
Berlin Wine Tasting of 2004, 36 European experts blind tasted wines from two
vintages each of eight top wines from France, Italy and Chile. The first and
second place wines were two Cabernet-based reds from Chile
Cousino-Macul Sauvignon Gris, Maipo 2006
The nose is fragrant with fig, honeysuckle and bright citrus. There are deep
mineral flavors in the sip with more fig and ripe melon within the long length.
"We are the largest producer of Sauvignon Gris in the world," boasts wine maker
Matias Rivera. The winery has a mere fifteen hectares planted. Learn more at
Cousino-Macul "Dona Isidora" Riesling, Maipo 2006
The nose is daffy with taffy and banana, rather than the usual tart green apple
and lime. There are floral notes and jasmine in the nose. The sip is the same.
Cousino-Macul Chardonnay, Maipo 2006
This white boasts no oak in its flavor profile. It is clean and refreshing. The
sip offers concentrated, ripe pear with melon and gentle earth.
Cousino-Macul "Antiguas" Reservas Chardonnay, Maipo 2005
The nose offers subtle nuances of tree fruit, gentle oak and citrus. The sip
tastes like taffy and dried apple.
Cousino-Macul "Antiguas" Reservas Merlot, Maipo 2005
The nose is powerful with rich, ripe fruit and brown spice. Bosenberry and mocha
lead the way in the flavorful sip. Serve this classic, complex red with flame
grilled meats and hearty sausages.
Cousino-Macul "Antiguas" Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon,
Spice and black cherry lead the way. The sip is leaner on fruit with leather and
mineral in the long length. Serve this classic, complex red wine with all manner
of flame grilled meat or sausage.
Cousino-Macul "Finis Terrae" Maipo 2004
The exact blend is 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot. The nose is packed
with ripe, dark fruit. The nose leads with mineral nuances and wild berries. The
sip mirrors the nose.
Darryl Beeson is an instructor for The International
Sommelier Guild www.sommelierguild.com
and is the American editor of
www.wineontheweb.com . He reports for
www.travellady.com as well.
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