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.