Friday, March 18, 2005

3 Reds: Australia, Chile

WYNNS COONAWARRA CABERNET/SHIRAZ/MERLOT 2001, South Australia, 13.0%, #511600 $18.95

The International Wine Cellar (Australia) says: "Deep red-ruby. Aromas of cassis, red currant and coconut. Sweet, juicy and nicely concentrated, with leanish but penetrating flavors of raspberry, currant and cherry skin. Finishes firmly tannic, ripe and classically dry. An excellent value." Vines (C Waters) gives it 4 1/2 stars (of 5) saying "showcases the high calibre of the 2001 vintage." My notes: An opaque ruby and a soft nose of licorice and berries - I didn't get the coconut. A firm tannic dryness, for sure, and long warm finish follows a full-bodied blackcurrant and ripe black cherry roundness. The 66% Cabernet Sauvignon predominates with some shiraz fruit (25%) and softening merlot (9%). Pair with bbq'd burgers, steaks, spicy meat pizzas, etc. Cellaring for two years (up to 8) should soften some of the tannins making an excellent full-bodied red (but it's still an excellent dry sipper now). A different 'Cab' for the cellar. Vintages release December 4, 2004.

CONCHO y TORO TRIO MERLOT 2003, Chile, 14.4%, #433920 $13.95

Don Melchor de Concha y Toro married a Frenchwoman named Emiliana Subercaseaux who owned a vineyard planted with vines brought over from Bordeaux. According to the label, this wine won a Gold Medal in the 2003 Wine Guide of Chile and is a blend of 65% Merlot, 20% Carmènere and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. My notes: In this case the smooth Merlot predominates but with red cherry brightness added by the Carmènere and a structure (tannins and length) from the Cab Sauv. Almost opaque ruby, full-bodied dry sipper, good with red meats even lamb or prime rib. Bbq'd burgers brought out some 'sweetness' not as evident in the sipping. A good value now and cellarable for half dozen years. A high potential 'merlot' for the cellar. Vintages release February 19, 2005 Vines (C Waters) gives it 4 stars.

CONCHO y TORO MARQUES DI CASA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2002, Puente Alto, Chile, 13.5%, #337238 $17.95

Winemaker (Marcelo Papa, photo) comments: "Deep red. Intense cherry, chocolate, black tar and smoked notes. The oak still cloaks its aromas, but in time all the fruit should develop greater complexity. A smooth, almost silky texture masks the firm tannic structure beneath, which only comes to the fore when the long finish begins to unravel." Vines (C Waters) gives it 4 stars saying "textures are plush and pleasant etc... for less than $20 you are able to enjoy ...the same drinking pleasure .. of $60 plus." My notes: Beautiful deep ruby with soft intense bouquet preparing you for a rich full-bodied surge of smoky figs/cherries and a smooth finish. Won a Gold medal in the 2nd Wines of Chile Awards (Jan 2005). Perhaps 5 stars would have needed a shade more acid and tannins but it's made the grade for me. Cellaring for a couple of years for more complexity - if it needs more? Underpriced for a firm Cab Sauv. Have with red meats.... or rich hors d'oeuvres: smoked oysters, sausage rolls and spicy salsa, beef jerky?.... any excuse to sip. Vintages release November 6, 2004.

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