So I must admit that for quite some time I was guilty of the crime that I see wine retailers and consumers committing all the time. Simply put, that crime is not paying enough attention to the wonderful and unique wines being made in Chile this days. It seems that in the press, on retail shelves, and in the hearts and minds of consumers, Argentina gets all the attention in South America. Don't get me wrong, I think Argentina is great, but I also think Chile is fantastic and quite a bit different from its neighbor to the east. Where Argentina is really good at one thing, Malbec (and arguably Torrontes too), Chile has an amazing diversity of microclimates in its little vertical slice of South America. Depending on where you are in Chile, you can find great wines that are really good values made from Carmenere, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay, and even a little bit of Pinot Noir. Our recent wine rut (I say that in a good way) has been with Syrah, so I have been exploring some Chilean Syrahs to see how they hold up against the rest of the world, and the results have been pretty darn good.
The 2007 San Pedro 1865 Los Quillayes Vineyard Syrah is a deep, garnet red in your glass. When first opened, this bottle smelled a little bit like a hickory smoke bomb went off, but after about 30 minutes in decanter that settles down and you get very pleasant smoke and game along with some blackberry and just a little bit of bell pepper. On your palate, you get enjoyable but subdued blackberry fruit upfront and some smoky bacon on the finish, and the tannins are already pretty mellow. Although the alcohol is pretty high at 14.5%, the profile of this wine leans more towards the Rhone than it does Australia. It is also has some unique qualities, like that very subtle bell pepper, that just taste of Chile, and that's one of the things I really like about Chilean wine - they exude terroir.
From a pairing standpoint, this wine makes me want cheese, but it is pretty versatile. It could also go with grilled red meats or even some smoky BBQ. At a price of only $15, its a pretty strong value.