2018 is rightly regarded as one of the best Chilean red wine vintages of the last 30 years, so it’s no surprise that the latest release of Don Melchor is so special. Made from 181 lots covering 151 different vineyard parcels, it’s a pure, refined expression of the Andes-cooled Puente Alto terroir. This is only the second time that the blend has included all four Bordeaux varieties on the estate – it’s 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, with 5% Cabernet Franc, 3% Merlot and 1% Petit Verdot – and the wine is suitably nuanced and well balanced. Scented and floral, with some wild herb top notes, it’s an icon that marries energy with power and grip. The tannins are polished, the fruit intense, with cassis and red berry flavours complemented by fresh acidity and scented coffee bean oak.
Serious, strapping Shiraz, but with a feminine side, this is a seriously delicious Aussie red, which encapsulates the best of the Barossa, both modern and traditional. It’s ripe, soft and sweet, with succulent blackberry and raspberry fruit, a hint of coconutty oak and appealing bottle maturation. Spicy, rich, yet very well balanced.
The Viognier is more obvious in this wine than it is in most Côte Rôties, but that’s part of the style. It’s ripe, soft and slightly apricotty, with supple red fruits, touches of oak. liquorice and blackberry and medium weight tannins.
A candidate for the title of Australia’s best Viognier (and that’s not meant to sound like faint praise), this is true to its varietal, but in a subtler way than many New World examples. White flowers, some cream, a hint of spice, nuanced oak and enough acidity to keep the wine tingling nicely on the palate.
If you can’t afford Comtes de Champagne (the 2000 is delicious), this is a more than acceptable substitute at under £50. It’s got lovely toasty, autolytic complexity, notes of grilled hazelnuts and citrus fruit and a very long, satifying finish. A delicious fizz.