Home Winners > Winners 2014 > NEW WORLD: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc & Bordeaux blends: Chile

Winner Details

New World: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc & Bordeaux blends,  Chile

2014: Gold 3 Silver 7 Bronze 4 Commended 9
2013: Gold 3 Silver 4 Bronze 6 Commended N/A
Must-list status: 90%
Overall SWA performance 2014: B-

If Chilean Cabernets were a person, they’d be the one your parents would want you to marry. Solid, reliable, nice-enough looking, reliable, steady, reliable… Wines with an inoffensive middle-management job, that never forget to put the car in for a service and only lose their temper when assembling Ikea furniture. 

There is, very definitely, a place for wines like this – the only problem being that while sommeliers can appreciate the benefits of Mr Average, in their idle moments they’re likely to be dreaming of a more exciting life with someone else. 

We saw all of this in our feedback this year. This (large) part of the competition attracted barely anything in the way of criticism – after all, what’s not to like about ripe tannins and naturally plush fruit? But for most of our tasters, this remains a category that is functional rather than exciting and, as a result, not one where they are usually that open to spending a bit more.

Why, metaphorically, would you need a sports car to take hedge-clippings to the tip when you can do the same job better with a Mondeo estate?

Or, as Etrusca Restaurants’ Luigi Buonanno put it (perhaps more comprehensibly): ‘The high-end wines struggle to sell because people don’t expect to spend £50 on a Chilean wine in a restaurant.’ 

Still, that didn’t stop us from finding four great wines for our Gold List – laddering up from £6 to £12, and proof of a category with real strength in depth. 

‘We’ve got one cheap example, one step-up and some at over £10 in a variety of styles. I’m very happy with our selection here,’ said Gold List co-ordinator Christine Parkinson.

It’s just a question of persuading the Great British Public that, occasionally, Mr Average deserves the odd treat, too…

FOOTNOTE: Includes wines where Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, or Cabernet Franc are the main varietal, plus Bordeaux blends.

Star Performer

Congratulations to Caliterra, whose Tributo Single Vineyard Cabernet has picked up a Gold for the third year on the trot. Amazing consistency!

From the Tasting Teams

‘Chilean Cabernet and Merlot is becoming a bit like NZ Sauvignon Blanc, a safe choice, a safe style, but there is not enough character in the wines.’ Ram Chhetri, Bread Street Kitchen

‘Ultimately, Chilean Bordeaux blends do the job, but people don’t want to pay too much for them.’ Claire Love, Loves Restaurant