There’s a lot to like about Pinot Noir. For starters, as a child it offers an abundance of juicy red fruit flavours the likes of strawberries, raspberries and cherries. On the other hand, when given some time in the bottle or barrel, Pinot Noir starts to produce more earthy mushroom characteristics that add to the wine’s complexity. Next, the grape boasts high natural acidity that not only gives the resultant wine an invigorating freshness, but allows you to chill it almost as you would a white wine and enjoy it on a hot afternoon! Lastly, truly exceptional expressions of the grape are characterised by sheer concentration of flavour, yet with an elegant finesse to them. There is certainly a lot of potential to be discovered here.
The grape is well-known and revered for its exceptional quality and corresponding high prices (a function also of its difficulty to grow and vinify) in its birthplace, Burgundy France. However, many critics have often argued against its efficacy when transported to other New World wine producing regions (such as South Africa, New Zealand, Argentina or USA). Undeniably, it is incredibly difficult to recreate the exact climatic, topographical and organic conditions you find in Burgundy to reproduce identical wines in these new regions. But, nevertheless, some producers have embraced this disparity and sort to produce alternatively iconic wines by their own right!
Chile is one such location that has successfully utilised its high altitudes, diverse landscapes and modern wine making techniques to produce numerous value for money and fruit-driven wines that have grabbed the attention of the world, making no apologies for it along the way.
I decided to try one of these recently over a lengthy and lazy lunch. As it is January (when this piece was actually put together), when bank accounts are depressingly empty (you didn’t want to see mine then), Chile’s value was the first and only consideration on my mind. I settled on a Casillero del Diablo, owned by the $ 1.5 Billion (in assets as at 2015) multinational, Viña Concha y Toro; this allowed me to expect a reasonable quality to value ratio.
The wine, a 2012 vintage, was holding together positively well. It lead with raspberries, rose petals and almost clove spice on the nose. I could also pick up a feeble savoury character. Having placed the wine in an ice bucket about 15 minutes before, the palate was refreshing and crisp, backed by accessible fruit and tannins that concentrated at the tip of my tongue. Clear oak influence could be detected which gave the wine more body and length. All in all I was impressed with its showing.
Unsurprisingly, it additionally paired well with my sea food lunch. The fresh acidity of the wine was able to cut through the fattiness of the Tuna Pâté starter, which left my palate feeling cleansed and eager for the next bite. For the main, the thick Cajun spice coating that had turned the Red Snapper black in colour provided enough body to cope with oak and spicy character of the wine. The bold red fruit characteristics were accentuated because of this.