Aviary Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2012




Excellent value and a good example of what Chile does best.

I BEGAN my wine drinking hobby when I was in college in the late 1980s and I still remember some of the bottles that made me realise that I was in this for the long haul.

One bottle that sticks in my mind from this period was my first taste of Chilean wine which I believe was a bottle of Los Vascos Cabernet Sauvignon (owned by Chateau Lafite) served at a Finnish Embassy party in TCD in 1990.

I was in my final year in TCD and somehow myself and two friends gate-crashed the party and it proved to be a memorable evening.

I remember the attractive Finnish serving staff, the bottles of Finlandia Vodka encased in ice, the pea soup and the boring speech from the ambassador; but mostly I remember the taste of the wine which was significantly better than the Bulgarian Cabernet from the Suhindol region that was my usual tipple.

Nobody would have guessed in 1990 that by 2012 more than 23% of the wine we drank in Ireland would be from Chile and 27% would be from Australia.

At a recent tasting held by Wines of Chile I was pleased to see that the country is still on form at most price levels. Of course some of the very cheapest wines were not particularly memorable and a couple at the top end were over-priced, but in general the standard was high.

More than 70% of Chile’s grapes are international varieties, with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot the most common. Carménère, however, is almost exclusively Chilean given that it died out in Bordeaux thanks to the vine disease Phylloxera.

Aviary is a new range of Chilean wines from Barrys of Mallow that I spotted at the tasting and also below are some other Chileans that I discovered recently — in particular don’t miss the Carignan below.

BEST VALUE UNDER €10

Aviary Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2012 — €8.99
Stockists:
Costcutter, Carry Out nationwide
Distinct nettles and lime aromas with a very crisp palate and fine lingering citrus flavours with a hint of under-ripe pineapple. Excellent value and a good example of what Chile does best.

Aviary Carménère 2011 — €6.99
Stockists:
Costcutter, Carry Out nationwide
Light fruity aromas of wild berries and black fruits. Soft approachable fruity palate with a lingering cocoa flavour. This has to be one of the best Carménères I have tasted under a tenner.

Aviary Reserve Merlot 2011 — €6.99
Stockists:
Costcutter, Carry Out nationwide
Distinct chocolate aroma along with blackberries and soft plums. Soft and fruity on the palate with more hints of chocolate and a little structure to ensure it will work with food as much as on its own.

BEST VALUE UNDER €20

In Situ Gran Reserva Carménère 2010 — €11.99
Stockist:
SuperValu
Bright blackcurrant aroma, along with a hint of black wine gums. On the palate this has even more blackcurrant fruit, mixed with damsons and blueberries and good persistence.

Oveja Negra Cabernet Franc/Carménère 2010 — €11.50
Stockists:
Nolans Kilcullen, QuickPick Glengarriff, Pinecroft Off Licence Cork, The Grapevine in Dublin 9
Made from hand-harvested grapes this is an interesting blend of Cabernet Franc and Carménère, two of the historic Bordeaux grapes. Lightly, fruity with a good blackcurrant core and some firm fruity edges.

Odfjell Orzada Carignan 2009 — €16.99
Stockists:
Dublin- Corkscrew, Donnybrook Fair. Kerry: The Vanilla Group. Galway: McCambridges
This is probably the most interesting single varietal Carignan I have ever tasted — aromas of violets, tobacco and smoke and sweet violet infused fruit on the palate and a lingering intensity. Fascinating.

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