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Organic, naturally

03 October 2014


TWO items in the news caught my attention recently. The first was the results of some research by Professor Peter Giancola at the University of Kentucky. He concluded that "The more religious one is, the more aggressive one will become after drinking alcohol." Sadly, we were not told how big the study was, or on whom it was carried out, only that "for the purposes of the study, a spiritual person was one defined as 'someone who finds meaning in the sacred', regardless of which religion they follow".

I would put forward the thought that "The more religious one is, the less likely one is to drink alcohol."

The other piece of news was that a Chilean winemaker had suggested that the Chilean wine industry could become 100 per cent organic. This was because no rain falls in the vineyards during the grape-ripening season, and therefore the need for chemical treatments is minimal.

I am sure that the consumer would welcome more "natural" wines, even though there may be no difference in the taste. Historically, there have been allegations that children have suffered in Chile because of chemical-spraying in the vineyards.

One other aspect of the Chilean wine scene which I welcome is that there is increasing awareness of the different "wine regions" within the country. In the past, most Chilean wines have given the Central Valley as their source. This is the fertile valley that lies between the coastal range and the Andes. Now, we see wines with their sources given in a number of valleys.

For example, the Maipo Valley has been long recognised for producing many of the best Cabernet Sauvignons, while some great Syrahs come from the Colchagua Valley. One problem has been that there is substantial climatic difference between the top of these valleys, in the foothills of the Andes, and areas closer to the Pacific Ocean, where planting is now taking place of cooler-climate grapes. Many now think that the some of the valleys should be classified into upper, middle, and lower sections, to give the purchaser a better idea of where his wine comes from.

Majestic has strengthened its range of Chilean wines recently, and is offering substantial discounts of up to a third off the price if you buy two or more bottles. (These prices are per bottle, before any discount.) From the cooler Casablanca Valley: First Class Pinot Noir 2013 (£8.99), and Luis Felipe Edwards Gran Reserva Chardonnay 2013 (£10.99). From the south: the Bío-Bío Valley Con Amigos Malbec 2013 (£9.99), and the Itata Valley Miguel Torres Days of Summer 2013, Dry Muscat (£9.99).

Waitrose, too, has a Chilean selection, including one of my favourites, Viña Leyda Cahuil Vineyard Pinot Noir 2011 (£14.99), the Aconcagua Valley Errazuriz Max Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (£12.99). I can also recommend the Viña Tamaya Syrah Reserva 2009 (Berry Bros. & Rudd, £11.95).

Chile now offers a broad range of great wines in a variety of styles at good prices.

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