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Extended tasting note 12  
Miguel Torres Conde de Superunda 2000 Curiců, Chile 

What is it about Chilean wine? Blind tasting is usually a difficult sport, but itís rare that I blind taste a Chilean red wine without spotting its country of origin fairly quickly. And while inexpensive Chilean redsópacked full of pure, bright fruitóhave been hugely successful commercially, Chilean fine wine hasnít really done it for me. Theyíve usually tasted like riper, more concentrated versions of cheap Chilean wines, offering sweet fruit but little in the way of complexity. Iíve nurtured this sneaking suspicion that Chilean wines taste worryingly alike.

But Iím an open-minded sort of guy, so tonight I opened a high-end Chilean red from Miguel Torres Chile: Conde de Superunda 2000 Curiců. The distinguishing feature of this wine is the varietal composition. As well as the usual Chilean fare of Cabernet Sauvignon and CarmenŤre, we have Tempranillo and Monastrell (MourvŤdre). All aged for a couple of years in French (Nevers) oak.

As youíd expect, this is a deep, dark-coloured wine. Iím drinking it out of a Riedel Burgundy glass, and itís 9.40 pm on a Wednesday evening. My goal until bedtime is, in addition to writing this note, to make a bit of progress with one of my Express columns, and also a chapter for my closures book. The wine will aid my creativity, or send me to sleep Ė one or the other. Wine writing is one of the few occupations that can be done glass in hand without a loss in productivity. (The assumption, here, is that one doesnít neck a whole bottle in 20 minutes, in which case work quality is likely to be compromised.)

Back to the wine. I like the nose. Thereís the trademark sweet, pure, blackcurrant fruit pastille character, but as well as this Iím getting some exotic spices and perhaps a hint of minerality, too. Itís quite fresh, with just a hint of supple greenness. Pure fruit plus greenness is, of course, one of the defining features of the Chilean red wine style. Itís not too obvious here. The palate is quite structured and savoury, providing ample support to the sweet fruit. Good concentration, with some dark chocolate notes and a little bit of plummy bitterness. Thereís still a lot of pure fruit here, but itís not overly sweet, and the spicy oak is very much in the background.

Thereís no getting away from the fact that this is a new world wine in quite a modern mould. It still tastes Chilean, which Iím not saying is necessarily a bad thing. But with this new world character we have admirable structure and restraint. At age 6, this is a wine that still tastes quite primary, but I reckon if you look hard you can spot some spicy complexity coming through Ė perhaps over the next year or two this wine will begin to open out nicely. I also think that this is a wine with a future ahead of it, and in five years to a decade it will be singing. These projections are, of course, no more than educated guesswork. But Iím getting quite a good feeling about this bottle.

Iím fairly sure that this is the most serious Chilean wine Iíve yet tasted. Iíve done quite a few high-end Chileans, but this is a bit more understated, complex and balanced than the others. The alcohol level, 13.5%, is pretty sane, too. Itís hard to rate: I guess what Iím saying is that while Iím enjoying it, it isnít really my style of wine. I like it but I donít love it. But if you are more favourably disposed to the Chilean style, then this wine might well be the business, for you. If Iím pressed to give it a score, Iíll say 91/100.

Wine tasted 03/06
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