A couple of months ago at the Liquor Control Board of Ontario I encountered two gentleman shopping for a backyard wedding reception. They asked me what might go with the salmon which was one of the foods for the backyard wedding barbeque. Earlier in the year I had received some samples from a BC winery which included a couple of Pinot Noirs. I suggested one of those Pinot Noirs which I saw on the LCBO shelves for $33 as after all it was a wedding. This caused one of the gentlemen to start dissing Canadian wines because of their high cost. He was a staunch advocate of Chilean red wines due to their attractive pricing and high quality. He took the higher prices for Canadian wine somewhat like a personal insult. British Columbia produces a slew of high quality red and white wines but you would be hard pressed at the LCBO to find any BC red wines in the $20 and under category. In the October 22 LCBO Vintages release catalogue 4 of the 5 Chilean wines are under $20 yet only 1 of the 7 Ontario wines are in the $20 and under category. None of the 16 California wines are under $20. Sure perhaps there are many reasons, such as cost of land and labour accompanied by high taxes. Does the customer care? Or do the majority of customers want quality at a reasonable price? If they do Chile will come out a winner and Canada a loser. Support local sounds attractive to a point but does it trump the cash register?
Chilean red wine is nothing to sneeze at as generally speaking it offers affordable quality. It doesn’t have to prove anything to me but since we are talking about Chilean wine let’s try a Viña Tarapacá Gran Reserva 2020 Carmenère from the Maipo Valley at $18.75.
The aromas signal a lush wine similar to a well-made Merlot from California. Notes of blueberry, black cherry, blackberry and loganberry jam. On the palate there is no doubt about a rich and plush wine that still maintains its definition as a solid as opposed to a flabby wine. In fact call it muscular but not cloistered and tight fisted with its fruit. The blueberry and blackberry is sharp edged keeping the wine in the serious category. The tannins are mild and the finish long and lingering with a bit of pepper. If you are a fan of full-bodied wines this is right and ready now. It will improve over a few years and should be consumed before 2026.
(Viña Tarapacá Gran Reserva Carmenére 2020, D.O. Vale del Maipo, Chile, Viña Tarapacá, Isla de Maipo, Chile, $18.75, 750 mL,13.5%, RKS Wine Rating 94/100)