Celebrating Chilean sparkling wines
December 21, 2018
Every year, we get a group of people together to nobly taste their way through a selection of Chilean sparkling wines to choose the ones they like the most. This year 10 people of 4 different nationalities rose to the challenge and checked out 6 premium, in-bottle fermented sparkling wines (3 white, 3 rosé) and 6 budget sparkling wines. Here are the results.
Premium sparkling wines
Overall winner: Loma Larga Cabernet Franc Brut Nature. 12.9% ABV
Made with 100% Cabernet Franc grapes from the Casablanca Valley, which were directly pressed to get a pale pink colour. Being Brut Nature, this has no extra sugar added and it is an intriguing wine with a mixture of savoury and fruity notes, as well as clear notes from the 12 months it spent on its lees following the in-bottle fermentation. A delightful, fresh and food-friendly wine, it’s worth making the effort to get a bottle of this limited production wine, which can be bought directly from the winery. Reference price CLP$18,000.
Second: Montes Sparkling Angel Brut. 12.5% ABV
This is a white, traditional method sparkling wine made with 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay from Zapallar, very near the coast. This coastal influence will help ensure that the fruit is fresh, with zesty acidity. The wine spent 3 years on the lees before disgorgement, making for some rich, complex, biscuity, toasty notes. Very delicious. Bought from La Cav for $14,290.
Third: Azur Brut. 12% ABV
Made with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes from a cool-climate area in the Limarí Valley, this wine spent 36 months on the lees. This is a real crowd-pleaser, with a nicely balanced and complex nose and deliciously fresh mouth. Available from supermarkets in Chile for $21,990.
Fourth: Inicio Rosé Extra Brut. 12.5% ABV.
This is a rosé sparkling wine made from Pinot Noir from the Casablanca Valley. The clusters were direct-pressed, hence the pale rosé colour. The base wine was oak-aged over its lees for 6-9 months, with lees stirring. This has resulted in much more body and creaminess in the mouth and added some brioche notes. The wine then had its second fermentation in the bottle and spent 24 months on its lees before disgorgement, adding biscuit and toast notes. This was a very interesting wine that got mixed results in the tasting. I found it very exciting and would be interested to see if the wine evolves further in the bottle. Lovely fresh acidity, lots of body and layers of complex flavours, including those toast and spongecake aromas intermingled with red fruit. Bought from La Cav for CLP$16,000.
Fifth: Matetic Coastal Brut. 12.5% ABV
Made from biodynamically-grown Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes from the San Antonio Valley, this wine spent almost 2 years on the lees, lending it some creamy, brioche notes. This is a beautifully refreshing wine with a long finish. Available from the winery or from Vinoteca. Reference price CLP$24,000.
Sixth: Levita Syrah Rosé Brut. 11.5% ABV
This is a sparkling wine made by two women from 100% organic Syrah grapes from the Maipo Valley. The crushed grapes had a 2-3 hour maceration to give the juice its rosé colour. The base wine spent 7 months over its lees before the second fermentation, which have added to the texture in the mouth. The wine spent 12 months on its lees before disgorgement. This wine has layers of biscuit and black fruit aromas, lots of texture in the mouth and a long finish. Definitely worth trying. This wine is available at La Cav. Reference price CLP$17,990.
Budget sparkling wines (under CLP$10,000 per bottle)
Overall winner: Miguel Torres Estelado Extra Brut. 12% ABV
We were all agreed that this wine was head and shoulders ahead of the other budget wines in this tasting. Made with organic País grapes from the Maule Valley, it is also the only one in this price bracket to have had in-bottle fermentation and spent 18 months on its lees. Some complexity, with subtle citrus and stone fruit flavours alongside some biscuity notes revealing the lees-ageing. Nice and fresh with a creamy mousse. Widely available. Reference price: CLP$10,000.
Second: Amaral Brut. 12.5% ABV
This wine from Viña Montgras is made from Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc grapes from the Leyda Valley. It was made using the tank method. A fresh and fruity wine that you can enjoy on its own or with salads or buffet food. Widely available. Reference price CLP$8,000.
Third: Carmen Brut Special Cuvée. 12.1% ABV
I couldn’t find any information about this wine, beyond that it is made with 100% Chardonnay grapes. Easy-drinking but the sugar-acidity balance wasn’t quite there. Sweet, ripe fruit flavours. Available from supermarkets. Reference price: CLP$8,000.
Fourth: Echeverría Nina Brut. 12.5% ABV
100% Chardonnay grapes from the Curicó Valley, made using the tank method. With apple flavours and a creamy mousse; this is an easy-drinking option that will work well alone or with a range of foods. Available from supermarkets. Reference price: CLP$7,000
Fifth: Bouchon Extra Brut. 11.5% ABV
50% País and 50% Cinsault from the Maule & Itata Valleys. Made using the tank method. Simple and easy to drink. Available from supermarkets. Reference price: $8,500
Sixth: Casillera del Diablo, The Devil´s Brut. 12% ABV
This sparkling wine from one of the world’ biggest wine companies, Viña Concha y Toro is made with grapes (unspecified varieties) from the Limarí Valley. This is a very simple wine, which got extremely low scores in our tasting. It has artificial, sweetshop type aromas and flavours (think lemon sherbert) but is fairly fresh and easy-drinking. Honestly, whatever style of sparkling wine you like, you can find something with more personality than this wine in this price bracket. Widely available from supermarkets. Reference price: CLP5,600
I’d love to hear what sparkling wine you choose to celebrate with these holidays! Feel free to drop me a line.
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