£17, 14, The Wine Society
Grown on basalt soils identified as ideal by the French terroir consultant, Claude Bourguignon, for Mediterranean grapes, this is a stunning blend of mostly Mourvèdre with Grenache, Carignan and Syrah. Liquorice, damson, tapenade and blackberry flavours are embellished by bright acidity, savoury, grippy tannins and just a hint of oak.
£10-15, 13%, Les Caves de Pyrene
Marcelo Retamal is one of the most exciting winemakers in South America at the moment, crafting wines that are as refreshing as they are restrained. This delicious Cinsault was fermented in old terracotta amphorae, eschewing the oak that marrs too many Chilean reds. The result is a wine with refreshing, cherrystone and raspberry flavours, subtle tannins and impressive palate length. Chile should be making more wines like this.
£10-15, 12.5%, Les Caves de Pyrene
De Martino's Viejas Tinajas project is producing some of Chile's most interesting wines at the moment. This savoury, aromatic white has a touch of grapeskin bitterness to it that adds structure as well as a layer of complexity. It's not a typical Muscat by any means: you can taste the grapey notes of the variety but they are subtle and restrained rather than overt.
£25, 14%, The Wine Society
This impressive Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon comes from the foothills of the Andes rather than the flatter expanses of the Maipo Valley and it shows in the quality and definition of the wine. It's a dense, compact, ageworthy red with rich flavours of plum, cassis and blackberry, sweet, toasty oak, structured tannins and excellent concentration. Built to last, it should develop further complexity over the next five to eight years.
Made with a combination of old vine Cinsault and País, grown in the southerly Itata Valley, this is one of the most exciting Chilean reds I've had in years. Perfumed, spicy and full of personality, it's fresh and minerally with subtle raspberry and red cherry fruit, understated (non existent?) oak influence and vibrant, cool climate vivacity. Like a Pinot Noir crossed with a northern Rhône Syrah, but with an ancient Chilean personality that is all its own.
If its name is anything to go by, this is the top of the range red from Leonardo Erazo's Itata operation. It's a typicaly harmonious blend of Syrah, Malbec and Carignan, made in homeopathic quantities. Light, fresh and focused, it's another outstanding red with savoury tannins, tangy acidity and a beguiling combination of flavours: clove, pepper, plum, black cherry and graphite. Complex winemaking of a high order.
Like the 2008 vintage of El Inosolente, this is made entirely from bush vine Carignan grown in the Itata Valley. If anything, it's a step up in quality, which is saying a good deal. Deeply coloured and concentrated, yet not heavy or ponderous in any way, this is a wine that's all about fruit and balance rather than oak and extraction. Perfumed, savoury and refreshing, with bramble and balckberry fruit, firm but harmonious tannins and a long, refreshing finish.
Made by Leonardo Erazo, whose day job is as winemaker at Altos Las Hormigas in Mendoze, this is one of a series of outstanding Chilean wines made from specific sites in Itata. The grape vareity here Carignan, which deserves to be considered as one of Chile's best varieties. It's a refreshing, minerally, savoury red with bottle-aged characters of game and sweet spices, fine, but firm tannins and bright, cool climate acidity.
I'm not sure what the varieties are here, but the fact that the wine comes from old bush vines in the Itatata Valley suggests that they are unlikely to be Chardonnay. All I know from Chilean winemaker Leonardo Erazo is that this is a field blend. It's floral, fresh and comparatively low in alcohol reflecting its cool climate origins with notes of acacia honey, orange zest and white flowers and little or no oak in evidence. Minerally and fresh with considerable, savoury complexity.
£7.99 down to £5.99, 14%, Waitrose
USP or liability? Depending on your view of Carmenère, you will either love or loathe this wine because it's very true to its grape variety. Plush and sweetly oaked, it's a ripe, malty, vanilla-scented red with flavours of green pepper and chocolate and plenty of texture. Impressive winemaking from Chile-based Kiwi, Brett Jackson.