#newwinethisweek Week 27 – Merlot, Chile

We haven’t had a hefty red for a while on #newwinethisweek so this week we’ll rectify that situation as we go for one of the wine-world’s forgotten super-heroes. This week we will learn to love Merlot again.

Chile flag

Merlot has had a hard time in the past decade; especially after the unfair hammering it took in the film Sideways! But there really is nothing to dislike; Merlot produces soft-textured fruity wines that are ever so drinkable and match with any red meat. The way I see it, if it’s good enough for Petrus then it’s good enough for you and me!

We could have gone to the home of Merlot on the right bank of Bordeaux but #newwinethisweek is all about expanding our horizons; over the past couple of years I have come across some excellent examples of Merlots in Chile. We covered Chile in week 2 of #newwinethisweek when we took a look at Carménère but it’s time to return and discover what Chilean Merlot has to offer.

Merlot is the second most planted red grape in Chile with just over 10,000 hectares under vine; the most popular is the ubiquitous Cabernet Sauvignon with 40,000ha, Carmémère comes in third at 9,000ha. Merlot is planted in all of Chile’s wine regions and produces fruity, vibrant and often brilliant wines. The texture is certainly not as full bodied as some of the big Californian Merlots on the market, instead these are wines of fruit and elegance are more akin to those of Pommerol… big statement!


I am looking forward to trying a few of these wines and have secured a couple of bottles from the Echeverria estate to see how Merlot works with and without oak. The great news is that there is plenty of choice out there on the supermarket shelves and a very attractive price too. Get yourself a bottle and let us know what you think!


Errázuriz Estate Merlot 2012, Curicó Valley (Tesco £9.99)

Isla Negra Reserve Merlot 2013, Central Valley (Tesco £9.99, currently £4.99 – it won’t be worth £10!)

MontGras Reserva Merlot 2013, Colchague Valley (Waitrose £9.49)

Casa Leona Merlot 2013, Rapel Valley (M&S £7.49)

The Society’s Exhibition Merlot 2011, Peumol (The Wine Society £9.50)

Echeverria Classic Collection Merlot 2012, Central Valley (Wine and the Vine £8.99)

Echeverria Reserva Merlot 2010, Curico Valley (Wine and the Vine £11.25)


You know the drill by now, grab a bottle and tell us what you think!





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Posted on July 7, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Reblogged this on Please Bring Me My Wine and commented:
    Heading off to the reds this week…

  2. Fair play to Mr Wine Geek for choosing Chilean Merlot this week-any Merlot would’ve been good with me to be honest as I love the stuff!

    I discovered the joys of this velvety beauty in the same place as most people probably do-the Bordeaux right bank. You really understand the importance of it within the Bordeaux blend when you make a visit. The left bank landscape is all flat and monotonous, matching their cab sav’s tight and austere characteristics. The Merlot landscape over the river however, is all soft lines and lush rolling hills- the mirror image of its mellow, smooth grape variety.

    So a great chance this week to discover if the Chilean versions follow this Bordeaux stereotype and show similar characteristics.
    I was due a trip up to the Wine Society in Stevenage anyway so figured that I’d find a decent version up there.

    For those who aren’t already members of the Wine Society, join now!! It’s the world’s oldest and arguably one of the best wine clubs around. I’ve persuaded several of my uninitiated mates to join and none regret it. It’s run as a co-operative model so the profits are all re-invested so being a member gives you a real sense of fraternal loyalty.

    Blissfully wandering around their ‘Member’s Showroom’ for a few hours is a rare joy that must be the equivalent of a scatter-cushion crazed housewife (my wife) wandering around Ikea for an afternoon-they have every style for every taste at exceptional prices. They even have an 8 bottle enomatic machine dispensing for free!! I’ve gotta start getting a lift up there.

    They stock their own label wine for pretty much every major region, and use some serious producers to make their stuff. They’ve been around since 1874 so you’d guess they must have built up some good relationships by now. They also do a ‘finest’ type range for several regions, called The Exhibition range.
    I went for their 2011 Exhibition Merlot from Peumo Valley for £9.50

    The producer responsible for making this for The Wine Society is the largest in the country; Concha Y Toro. They’re kind of like the Chapoutier of Chile, in that they make some really serious high end wine in small numbers but also knock out big volumes of decent everyday stuff as well.

    In the glass, the wine’s a deep ruby colour with big gloopy tears that sit on the glass like candle wax-a whopping 14.5% on the label explains why!

    The nose is relatively restrained but does show tart plummy aromas, but no sign of the promised smoky oak.

    It all kicks off on the palate though-it’s got a deep, rich big body with a proper mouth coating syrupy sensation. The balance is a bit skewed with the tannins not quite extinguished by enough acidity, but the bold blackberry flavour is all encompassing and lasts for a good while. Also, the expected heat of a 14.5%’er isn’t there which is a bonus!

    I reckon I should’ve left this in a decanter for more than an hour though as the edges needed a bit more softening. It started to mellow out a bit in the glass towards the end but by that time the bottle was nearly gone and so was I, so too late!

    I really love and crave this style of wine so don’t want to be too critical, but while this was a cracking good bottle, I think you’d need to go up the pay scale a few notches to get anything near to the Bordeaux versions-but who says they even want to be like that anyway!!

    A very leggy 7.5/10

  3. I have had a very similar experience this week… thanks again for the awesome review again!

  4. This week I tried 2 wines from the Echeverria estate… and was surprised at which one I preferred!

    Echeverria Classic Collection Merlot 2012, Central Valley (Wine and the Vine £8.99)
    Lovely young, bright ruby colour in the glass amazing fruity aromas. At first I pick up blackcurrant, some blackberry and even some damson jam. There’s a hint of spice, cinnamon or clove perhaps and it is just shouting out to be drunk. The palate is luscious and bold, without being overly heavy and with magnificent acidity. The black fruit is certainly the backbone but the raspberry freshness shines through and there is gentle spice on the finish. For £9 this is an awesome wine… I’m still salivating now! 8/10

    The only thing missing is concentration, which I’m hoping to get from the older vines in the Reserva…

    Echeverria Reserva Merlot 2010, Curico Vally (Wine and the Vine £11.25)
    I said I wanted concentration and boy did I get it! Blackberry and plums on the nose, a touch jammy but very fragrant with some sweet spice from the 12 month oak ageing. Full bodied, with the same acidic kick as the Classic but the fruit has far more intensity. There are hints of chocolate and vanilla intermingled with the sweet fruit but the alcohol is very present – this is a wine that wears its 14.5% on its sleeve. It’s a shame actually as it throws the balance out… and because of this I think I prefer the cheaper option! 7/10

    Another fun week and just goes to show what great value is available from Chile.

  5. Chilean Merlot? Glad I tried it. Lapostolle Casa Merlot 2010 Not overly ripe, like so many New World implementations. A bit of green pepper, but nice. I don’t usually get the whole rustic thing, but this one was clearly that. Fun to try!

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