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2019 is a lovely warm but not hot vintage for Chile and it shows here. Ripe, full and plump merlot with a hint of spice.
Product Code: QVT-CE10891
The Spanish conquerors introduced vinifera vines to Chile, and with them the establishment of vineyards for winemaking, in the middle of the 16th century, and the area around the capital Santiago has a history of winemaking stretching back nearly four and a half centuries. By the middle of the 19th century the Chilean wine industry was well established, but was making fairly rustic fare and it was a well-travelled local called Silvestre Ochagavia Echazzarreta who, in 1851, brought a French winemaker and a cargo of vine cuttings back from his travels to France and set a new era in motion.Robust domestic consumption kept demand, and tax revenue, high in the 20th century until domestic drinkers turned away in the 1970s and 1980s and many vineyards were pulled during the unsettling political upheavals of the former decade. The return of democracy stimulated investment and growth and a forward thinking, export oriented industry pointed to a brighter future.Quality begins, absolutely in the vineyard. In the last ten years Chile has begun to plant vineyards not just by matching variety and climate, which it has done very well up to now, but by mapping and analysing soils before planting. This new generation of soil-mapped vineyards planted in the last decade, with higher density, rootstocks and drip irrigation, or no irrigation, is now just starting to bear fruit and will revolutionise the quality of Chilean wines.Chile became first known for its cheap cabernets and merlots made from high yields in the fertile, warm, flat, flood-irrigated Central Valley. However, Chile is no longer a cheap country to buy from. Its economy is based on copper. It is the world's largest producer. Booming demand from China has seen its currency, the peso, strengthen, much like the Australian dollar which has been buoyed by its mineral resources. Labour for the wine industry is becoming more expensive and scarcer as it has to compete with the highly profitable mining industry which can afford to pay more. Energy costs have risen rapidly. It is estimated that half the vineyard area of Chile, about 62,500ha, is less than 15 years old. It probably takes 8-20 years to pay back a vineyard, and about 30 for a bodega. In Spain one can buy lovely 60-year-old-vine garnacha from co-operatives in Calatayud or Navarra at very cheap prices. The capital costs of the vineyard and winery have long been absorbed and the old vines offer lovely quality too.There are massive viticultural possibilities. This remarkable 3,000-mile-long country includes all the world's climates apart from sub-tropical and tropical. Grape varieties need different climates to prosper and Chile can accommodate them all.Many of Chile's cheap wines came from the flat, fertile and warm Central Valley, ideal for ripening large crops of very good entry-level wines. Before the advent of drip irrigation only these flat vineyards were suitable for flood irrigation. However, these flat lands were also situated in a warm climate and had fertile soils. The availability of drip irrigation allowed the planting of the cooler and less fertile south facing slopes, and availability of rootstocks allowed a greater diversity of soils to be planted.From Elqui in the north to Rapel in the middle of the country the rainfall increases from 90mm to 550mm. This lack of rainfall means Chile is free from most fungal diseases and has some of the healthiest grapes in the world. Water reserves from snow in the Andes, and the advent of drip irrigation (a vine needs about 700mm a year to survive) has allowed cool south-facing slopes, with less fertile soils, to be cultivated and yields controlled. From Maule down to Bío-Bío rainfall increases from 550 to 1,500mm and there are many unirrigated vineyards here.As well as the north to south dynamic, there is also a huge temperature variation east to west. Dr Richard Smart, a viticulture guru, says that to combat global warming viticulturists should head to the mountains or to the coast. Chile has both. More vineyards are being planted in the Andes mountains up to 2,000m, where average temperature decreases by 0.6°C with every 100 metres of altitude. The coast, cooled by the 14°C Pacific Ocean, has spawned a remarkable recent growth in vineyards. First came Casablanca (1982), then Leyda (1998), swiftly followed by Limarí (2005), Elqui, Aconcagua and Rapel. In between, the Central Valley and its offshoots like Apalta and Peumo are much warmer and are typically ideal for carmenère, and the southern Rhône varieties which are starting to appear, or for ripening large crops of cabernet and merlot to make cheaper wines.If Chile has successfully understood the matching of climate with grape variety, what it did not do, until recently, other than by accident, was to match the climate and variety with the right soil. There has been a step change in the quality of vineyards planted in the last 10 years or so. Knowledge about the soil following scientific analysis, appropriate planting density, choice of rootstocks, excellent clonal and massale selections of grape varieties, ability to plant cooler and less fertile south-facing slopes with the advent of drip irrigation (flood irrigation can only cope with virtually flat land) have all conspired to revolutionise the quality of vineyards planted in the past decade or so.For a more detailed examination of Chile and its regions please go to our How To Buy Chile section of our web site.
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"I trust this staple of my wine rack will return very soon!"
Mr Iain B Slinn (13-Apr-2020)
"Drier than the 2017 which was a 4 star"
Mr Peter Giblin (05-Jan-2020)
"Not good on the nose when just opened (metabisulphite?) also a little harsh on the first taste 2 to 3 stars. Left to breath and warm an hour or so, and have just poured a second glass. Quite plummy with a hint of aniseed, a good balance of acidity and tannins, medium bodied very easy and enjoyable drinking, I will be reordering."
Mr Martin Reeves (14-Dec-2019)
"Smells terrible, first taste palette is not good. Slightly better when left to breathe. "
Mr Nicholas Coleman (07-Dec-2019)
"Excellent wines, not expensive for these quality wines. Delivery as planned."
Mr John Burgess (08-Oct-2019)
"A really smooth mellow merlot.There is a hint of sweet spice. Very good value, quaffable , everyday red. Uncomplicated ,but still pleasant."
Mr Paul Davies (23-May-2019)
"For the price well worth a try! Full of flavour and a complement to many meals. Great for parties."
Dr Richard Rooke (04-Apr-2019)
"Rough and scarcely drinkable on first opening. After 24 hours with the top screwed back on it had mellowed enough for us to drink a little more. That's hardly a recommendation though. It was never pleasant. "
Mr Tom Lavercombe (24-Mar-2019)
"I was slightly heartbroken when I saw the 2017 had run out and hoped this would live up to it. It almost does but not quite. Slightly less acidity and more sweet fruit. Some will love that but I thought the 2017 was better balanced with more finesse. But let's be honest...I'm critiquing a wine that cost £5.95! You'll still struggle to find bettter at the price."
Mr Ben Stringer (15-Feb-2019)
"This has been our 'house red' for a few years. It is always fresh with lovely fruit, even a hint of cherry, straight out of the bottle. It is always keen to please and has remarkable finesse for the price. I'm at a loss to understand the negative reviews. We have never had a bad bottle and are always delighted to see it splashing generously into the glass."
Mrs Lindsey Shaw-Miller (01-May-2019)
"For me, this is the wine equivalent of comfort food: unpretentious, soothing and satisfying. Smooth, ripe plum fruit deliciousness with a hint of spice. It's a winner."
Ms Helene Fielden (05-Mar-2019)
"Terrific for the price. Not the slightest hint of vinegar or other unpleasantness as some other reviewers have written (maybe the quality variable). The bottle I had was a solid merlot, plummy, flavoursome and not too heavy. Went perfectly with some roast pork."
Mr Richard Hadfield (02-Feb-2019)
"Bright Fresh & Smoky 8 out of 10"
Mr Peter Giblin (23-Dec-2018)
"This seems to be a wine people either love or hate. I'm afraid I'm on the side of hate. Vinegary, harsh, no discernible fruit. "
Miss Sally Brown (15-Sep-2018)
"Oooh, not very nice. Musty aroma too sweet to taste. No. "
Mr Jonathan Bell (13-Sep-2018)
"At this price this is a very nice typical merlot, giving great value"
Mr Neville Clifford (08-Aug-2018)
"Great wine at a great price!"
Ms Natasha Crowe (26-Jul-2018)
"Good value, straightforward wine. Good house red for a discerning restaurant buyer. "
Mr Colin Mitchell (09-Jul-2018)
"I am maybe better with cheap whites than cheap reds, but this tastes like I have gone back 30+ years and am a student again. No thanks. "
Mr Neil Hogg (05-Jul-2018)
"Not one of those overly sweet and claggy merlots....a much nicer example. Really well balanced with flavour, acidity and sweetness with some minerality which gives it a hint of sophistication. Great value!"
Mr Ben Stringer (01-Apr-2018)
"Yes agree with Mr Clarke and other member reviews. A bit thin for a Chilean Merlot. OK with food but not a wine for drinking unaccompanied."
Mr Mark Jones (07-Dec-2017)
"Quite thin, but considering the low price it's a solid wine. From experience I would recommend that you do not drink this after anything too punchy, because the contrast will make this wine seem thinner than it is. A little disappointed that this was included in the 'Members Favourites' selection - is this based on reviews or the number of sales?"
Mr Liam Clark (22-Nov-2017)
"Its all about expectations! Too thin for comfort, but pretend it's a white wine. I had this with a baked trout, and the thinness and acidity of the wine offset the smoothness of the trout nicely"
Mr Dominic Field (25-Aug-2017)
"Punchy nose, bags of bold dark ripe fruit, touch thin but very happy with the value. Not a refined wine but the acid is refreshing, touch of grip on the finish. Perfectly serviceable weeknight wine. For a sub-£6 wine, well worth a go and good value."
Mr Martin J Whalley (06-Apr-2017)
"First wine I've bought from the Society that has been undrinkable. Can't speak for previous vintages (all current reviews are for older vintages) but the 2016 has a distinctly chemical nose which can be attributed to the combination of sulphur with the very (almost over) ripe fruit, and is very unpleasant. Over judicious use of sulphur dioxide and poor wine making."
Dr Andrew Rawnsley (04-Mar-2017)
"Staggering value for money. Sheer uncomplicated pleasure to drink - refreshes the parts other wines at this price cannot reach."
Mr Jonathan Rippon (18-Feb-2017)
Firstly, I've never bothered to review wines before. I would like to say that if you find this helpful, then let me know and I will keep writing reviews.
Normally, I never buy wines from outside Europe. Why? Because I come from Australia, and believe I should be trying everything around me first - before venturing to other areas. Well, I broke that rule recently in purchasing the Society's Australian Shiraz (see my review) and it's all gone down hill from there!
This wine is amazing - for the price. As compared to French wines, which usually blend grape varieties, I was interested to see how this Chilean Merlot would stand, and it stands well. There is an abundance of rounded plumb and dark fruits. The wine is smooth with a (not surprising given the value) short-medium length (i.e. it lingers after you have drunk it, but not for long). This does, however, add to its moreish qualities. It also has a lovely bouquet which represents the wine well.
The value is exceptional. We've all purchased wine from supermarkets in this price bracket, but very few (none?) are the sorts of wines you would purchase again. This wine is something you could easily have a dozen in your cellar to pull one out every now and then to have something different. Some people would probably even consider this an everyday wine. I would consider it a medium bodied wine, not something that you would choose to have with subtle flavoured foods, but similar to big Australian wines, it would be great for tomato based Italian dishes, BBQ meats and casseroles.
Definitely worth trying one bottle in your next order if it sounds like something you would like."
Dr Lonnie Swift (03-Sep-2016)
"Great value. Lots of fruit and quite soft on the palate. Have re-ordered."
Mr Richard Southgate (04-Jul-2016)
"This is really rather good – some pepper and red fruits, jam, and even a little bit of length on the palate. I don’t drink much merlot, finding it somewhat generic – cab sav, cab franc & sangiovese, that’s the grapes I go to (and no post-Sideways snobbery here - so far I’m unable to get anything much from pinot noir, it does nowt for me)– but I got this for my Ma who likes merlot. Now she’s got a pretty decent palate (I’ve sprung a bunch o’ 1855s on her and she gets ‘em) and she’s enjoying it good. I just ordered another three dozen to go with the dozen I got before; and that’s perhaps all the comment the wine needs – a repeat order.
Aye, yes, as the Wine Soc, a good wine under £6. Very good QPR; I recommend it.
Mr David Ryan (08-Feb-2016)
"The 2014 is a solidly decent Chilean merlot. Medium bodied, spicy, pleasant nose, soft tannins - although not as smooth as some. This is a pretty good value, unfussy, everyday red."
Mr Stephen Beaton (18-Jul-2015)
"Dirty, haunting nose; rough engaging fruit. This is not a pussy cat merlot. The uncompromising style of this wine suggests that it will pair well with Italian/ tomato food: we have yet to try."
Mrs Susan Massey (20-Apr-2015)
"For us the 2013 was the best value wine of the 100+ or so we sampled during our first year as Members. Quite happy if the Society's recent blurb about the "sweet spot" price [*sighs*] for Chilean wines being around £7 discourages some. More for the rest of us methinks. So far, has matched well with sirloin steaks, lamb shanks, homemade burgers (buffalo,venison, lamb, beef) and full-flavoured hard cheeses. No varaiation in quality amongst the 8 or so 2013s we ordered. Now they are all gone, can't wait to sample the 2014."
Mr Michael Garden (13-Mar-2015)
"Perfectly drinkable and actually quite pleasant given the price point. Comparable with something like a Casilero del Diablo Merlot and about 60% of the price. Have re-ordered."
Mr Jonathan Oakley (27-Nov-2014)
"For the price this can be a staple wine, medium bodied, black cherries on the nose with a hint of spice to make vibrant. Would recommend with a good curry."
Mr Stuart Sidebotham (08-Feb-2014)
"Very drinkable, not too strong and very good value."
Mr Lewis R Gordon (24-Aug-2013)
"This review is for the 2010 vintage, but as this has now sold out I thought I would comment here as I'm sure the 2011 will be just as good. I found the Lascar Merlot to be a good bottle of wine and at this price it is a steal. This is the second time I have ordered it recently and having taken more time to give it a serious going over. It is indeed fruit driven, the tannins are there but smooth and the acidity bites enough to make ones mouth water for another sip (ok, mouthful). As with their Carmenere I will keep reordering and enjoying. Now, where's my glass gone....."
Mr Aron Hills (13-Dec-2012)
"Colour is purple-red, deep and dense. The nose has slight dark berry fruit and has depth. The palate has a dry finish but there are sweet, jammy notes. It is smooth and weighty in the mouth with firm tannins. A reasonable food wine but not very exciting. Good value and uncomplicated."
Mr Geoffrey Bolton (02-Jan-2013)
"A very pleasant smooth easy drinking red wine. Remarkable value."
Dr John Baston (03-Dec-2012)
"A decent red, smooth and drinkable and good at the price."
Mr Philip Merrin (17-Aug-2012)
"Terrific value, neither sharp nor acidic. Am reordering more."
Mr John P Metcalf (16-Aug-2012)
"My wife tells me it is sharp and acidic but as a second or third bottle of a winter's evening one doesn't really mind. At least you won't be contributing to Tesco's or Walmart's profits. Go for the Lascar Cab Sauv instead - a much better option."
Dr Rupert Major (11-Nov-2011)
"For the price this is a great wine... Smooth tannins, not overpowering aftertaste like many Chilean or Argentinian wines. Good
easy drinking everyday red and far better than anything else at this price point from this part of the world that the supermarkets have to offer."
Mr Benjamin Pascall (12-Oct-2011)
"Pinky ruby colour. Red fruit nose with hints of vanilla. Toasted almonds and chocolate on the palate with more red fruits and vanilla. Good, light structure, very drinkable and great value."
Mr Julian S Lobley (27-Jan-2011)
"Superb. Typical Chilean Merlot, tastes double the price. Shame about the screw-cap."
Mr Martin Wingate (11-Jan-2011)
"Lovely perfume and raspberry aroma with good legs. Smooth tasting and interesting for an inexpensive merlot which is a grape which can be quite bland in everyday drinking examples. Good value."
Mr Kieran Hynes (08-Jan-2011)
"Excellent value for money. Good with stews, red meat and cheese."
Mr Alan Grimsley (18-Nov-2009)
"Merlots have always been one of my favourites. This vintage was certainly up to my expectations, smooth, not too dry and perhaps a little moreish. I will certainly be back for more Chilean Merlot eventually. I am trying a range of other reds from you over the festive season, so the taste buds may even change for a while!"
Mr Gerard Litten (13-Nov-2009)
"Bought this wine when under offer. Found it lacking in fruit and a little harsh; definitely better with food. Oddly, there seemed to be some variation between bottles in that some were softer to the taste than others. Thought that, on balance, it represented reasonable value for money though I doubt if I would re-order."
Col Leslie J P Morrish (13-Nov-2009)
"This wine represents great value for money and was enjoyed to the full by my wife and me. We used it with various meat dishes and found it to be the perfect partner."
Mr Michael Still (12-Nov-2009)
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