Chardonnay / $12 to $16
Maipo Valley / Chile
When I was asked to review this wine I flashed a big smile. I cut my teeth on Cousino Macul twenty years ago. It was Chilean and cheap. Although I did not taste the Chardonnay, the Cab and Merlot were a fantastic value.
Chile has become one of the best producers of wine in South America. Many of the large wine conglomerates have purchased land and developed vineyards there. There is a vast brain trust of winemakers that are sending lots of money and technology there to make wine. Many experts say it is "smart money". I tend to agree.
Chardonnay is not a grape that shines in Chile. I am not sure if it is the terrior or the technology...but it is tough to find a good chardonnay from the region. This wine is the needle in the haystack. It is surprisingly good, and for the money, it is a steal. All of you that write to complain about the price of a good chardonnay take note. For less then $15 you can drink a wine that will outperform wines $25 and more.
It is straw colored and pours cleanly. The nose is pear, citrus, apple, white flowers and a bit of toast. Although aged in oak, this is not an oaky chardonnay. The flavor of apple,pear and grapefruit are nicely balanced. The finish reveals a whiff of oak, but wonderfully integrated and balanced. This balance is rare in a wine in this price range.
Cousino Macul is no longer an up and comer. They are one of the leaders of the Chilean wine industry, and have proven their value. Their premium wines are classified as "Antiguas Reservas". It is well worth the few dollars more to buy this reserve wine. Don't skimp in this price range. The winners are few and far between. This wine is a winner and available everywhere. Go out and try a bottle. Let me know if you agree.