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It's time for Chilean wine

A gentle swirl of Chilean wine releases pent-up fragrance

Recently, I overheard a fellow writer from Britain describing wine as being a bottle of geography.

How eloquent. And true, particularly if the wineis allowed to reflect the sense of site or region it comes from.

Chilean wine, which I started drinking more than 30 years ago, resonates with pride of place.

In a blind-tasting, the giveaway is the remarkable fruit forwardness.

As soon as you pour the wine into a glass, all it takes is a gentle swirl to release all that pent-up fragrance.

In red wine, the perfume can be quite intense. Often, irrespective of the variety of the grape, it is blackcurrant cassis.

The Spanish first planted vines there in the 16th century when Chile was one of their colonies.

It was not until the 19th century that wine experienced something of a boom in the South American country.

This was when French varieties - particularly those of Bordeaux - were introduced to Chile.

Today, Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most important grapes in Chile.

In the early 1980s, the world started taking notice of Chilean wines. There were various reasons for this. All, though, were connected.

Chile is one of the 10 largest wine producers in the world.

Chilean wine had improved dramatically in quality.

This was the result of investment into viticulture and the introduction of modern, scientific approaches in wine-making.

The surge in quality also resulted in increased production.

This was more than what the home market could absorb. As a result, Chile started exporting its wines around the world.

It was in the late 1980s or early 1990s that Chilean wine reached Singapore. I was introduced to them in the mid-1980s when studying abroad.

Coincidentally, the first Chilean wines I drank were those of Concha y Toro, the very producer whose Chardonnay and reds we are recommending here.

The writer is a lawyer and a wine consultant at FairPrice. He is also the wine columnist at Lianhe Zaobao.


RECOMMENDATIONS

Marques de Casa Concha Chardonnay 2015

The vineyard in Quebrada Seca is 30km from the Pacific Ocean.

The maritime climate produces a white wine of great vibrancy and finesse. The pear, citrus and mineral flavours are poised and elegant. The soft vanilla oak is subtle and does not overwhelm. It lifts the fruit.

Taste freshness from start to finish. It is an exceptional match with tofu and seafood, even tempura.

Chicken and pork dishes will also be delicious with this.

Marques de Casa Concha Merlot 2014

Almost full-bodied, this red is dominated by rich oak tannins. The smoky, toasty, vanilla, blackcurrant cassis fruit needs to be experienced with food, such as steak and mutton. Decant 15 minutes ahead.

Casillero del Diablo Reserva Carmenere 2016

Green/red capsicums, blackcurrant cassis with a whiff of eucalyptus. The ripe fruit is vibrant and held together by crisp tannins and freshness on the finish.

Outstanding when paired with roast pork, duck and beef.

Casillero del Diablo Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Blackcurrant cassis with a delicate minty note. This medium-plus bodied wine is inspired by what is considered Bordeaux's most noble red variety, the Cabernet Sauvignon. The tannins are ripe and crisp.

Although enjoyable on its own, it is best when paired with pork, duck, beef and lamb.

Don Melchor 2013

This iconic red is one of Chile's greatest wines. It is a blend of 91 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon and 9 per cent Cabernet Franc.

The succulent, deep, dark cherry/cassis fruit is balanced by rich velvety tannins.

The smoothness of this full-bodied red is similar to the texture of a Pomerol, the famed Right Bank Bordeaux.

Decant 30 minutes ahead. Enjoyable on its own but more impressive with red meat, duck and stews.

Casillero del Diablo Reserva Shiraz 2015

Blackcurrant cassis and ripe raspberries on the nose. On the palate, the fruit is more restrained and complemented by silky tannins.

A smooth, medium-bodied red that is enjoyable on its own and delicious with chicken, pork and mushroom dishes.

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