WBW #52 – Value Reds from Chile

veramonte-winceThis is my first Wine Blogging Wednesday, and I am excited to be a part of it.  I’m particularly pleased that Cheap Wine Ratings is hosting because good cheap wine is just about the only wine I know.  And the theme is perfect for me because I’ve been drinking inexpensive Chilean reds for the last 15 years.  As a general rule, I try not to spend more than $10 U.S. bucks a bottle though I’ve been bending this rule a little bit lately.  And speaking of values,  Chile is the New World shoppers’ bargain mart.  Today, I’m blogging about a 2006 Veramonte Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva from Chile’s Colchagua Valley, about a 2.5 hour drive South of Santiago.  I have not had this wine in a few years, so I am taking a bit of a risk, but for $8.99, not much of one.

I assembled a team of  tasters made up of friends and family, two of whom were born in Chile.  I poured.   A deep inky red color – one  friend who is an artist wanted to dip a brush into her glass and paint.   We swirled.  I sloshed some right out of my glass and onto the tablecloth.   Not a good start and not much going on with the nose either.   No intensity – dull and flat.   Nothing.  Maybe it needs some air.  I left the bottle uncorked for 15 minutes or so, repeated the swirl, (with no spillage this time, thank you) and detected Dixon Ticonderoga #2 pencil shavings atop dried raspberries; not very aromatic, but with a little more life.  Team comments on the nose included dried fruit, muted cherries and traces of vinegar.  Sips revealed pomegranate quickly overpowered by sharp tannins and harsh unfiltered tobacco like a Lucky Strike – smoke and burn on the finish.  Chalky on the tongue – medium to full-bodied.  We might need a chalky Tums chaser.   One taster described the wine as sour; another detected some metallic bitterness and we all noted the prominent tannins from its exposure to oak.   One thing is clear:  this Veramonte  is out of balance.

By contrast, here are the winemaker’s notes:

Deep, dark ruby red. Concentrated blackberry and black cherry aromas with well-integrated oak. Juicy red and black fruit highlighted with earthy notes and elegant oak that lend a creamy mouth feel. Plush with soft, rich tannins, this wine is concentrated, round and luxurious with a long finish.

Our notes clearly tell a different story.  I do think this wine will soften in time and could be worth holding onto for a few years despite our negative first encounter.  Though not as appealing as some Chilean wines I’ve recently had, at $8.99 this 2006 Cab is still a value in the Chilean red department.  And if you like dry red – oaky and smoky, pop the cork on this Veramonte and enjoy with barbecue pork….and very sharp cheddar cheese.


12 Responses

  1. Thank you for your contribution and welcome to Wine Blogging Wednesday! I’m sorry you didn’t get to enjoy a better wine for this event, but that’s part of the risk when bargain hunting. I’ve had this wine before as well and had a similarly disappointing experience. Cheers!

  2. I usually do a little research before I buy a bottle or ask a clerk for a recommendation, but didn’t this time. I chose the Veramonte because I remembered it being a decent Cab a few years back and I figured I couldn’t go wrong. Now, If I had only read the winemaker’s notes, I might have steered clear of the “elegant oak”. Even though nobody liked the wine, we had fun sampling and describing it as best we could. No regrets. Thanks for hosting #52 and I look forward to participating in another round.


  3. YAY Ribbie for joining us on WBW!

    Your post was a kick to read! Lots of fun–and you pull no punches in your descriptions! Thanks for a tip on a wine to avoid!

  4. Thanks for the comment and also for telling me about the BWB! Hope you get to feeling better soon.

  5. Yikes! Maybe a bad bottle? One was or the other, good post.

  6. Thanks for the comment Rob. It’s possible the wine was corked, which could have accounted for the muted fruit and the balance issues. The cork looked fine though – not dry at all. And I didn’t detect any funk either, but if a wine were just a little bit corked, I probably wouldn’t be able to tell.

  7. no worries. I have no idea, but hopefully it doesn’t stop you from checking out other chilean wines. Have you read the other bloggers’ WBW? I have a pretty good list of them so far on my blog.

  8. I love Chilean wines and will always go back for more. I’ve read a couple of reviews and am starting to grow a “wines to check out list”. I’ll check out your blog too for more recommendations.


  9. […] at Ribbie’s Weblog joined us for his first Wine Blogging Wednesday and assembled a panel of tasters, including two […]

  10. too bad it was a bust but I wonder if you have to spend a bit more for Chilena value reds, esp. in the US. Considering this was a 2006, I don’t think a few more years of aging will help, those wines are usually meant to be drunk young. Better luck next time.

  11. Thanks for the comment and for encouraging me to do a WBW post. You are right about the cost – I thought I would be able to boast about finding a sub $10 bargain, but I think those deals are not so easy to come by these days. However, I have had some very good inexpensive vinos Chilenos recently, and should have blogged on one of those. You are probably right that the 06 Veramonte was meant to be drunk young. To come clean here, I’ve never bought a wine to hold on to so my aging comment was not informed by experience. For me, wine is for drinking, not a long term investment.

  12. I don’t know how well stocked your local wineshops are but if you want to try some wines with a bit of age, go for still Portuguese varietal reds, right now I have a cab.sauv. ’93 and a Dao tinto ’01 which I got for between 10 – 14 pounds or more obscure French reds, like Corbieres or a red Loire (Bourgueil) which are reasonable. You can buy a current vintage and compare. You’ll be amazed at the deals and quality! cheers!

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