CHILE'S MAIPO VALLEY CABERNET SAUVIGNONS
Morande Reserve 1999, $390
A short drive from Santiago is the Maipo Valley, a very different place from Hong Kong's swampy wetlands of the same name. In Chile's Maipo the clay soils are well drained and vineyards stretch under warm autumn skies to the horizon overlooked by the snowy Andes mountains. Little wonder that priests planted vines here as soon as they arrived in 1544. This Morande is a splendid example of what Chilean wine-makers can do with a straight cabernet sauvignon. The noble fruit is treated with respect, gently crushed and fermented in wood. A minty aroma makes it go particularly well with lamb chops and it has ample tannins that ensure it will mature well.
Force 8 Cellars (tel: 2527 6217)
Haras Elegance 2000, $420
I discovered Chilean reds 30 years ago when by miraculous good fortune I found a bottle of Santa Rita cabernet sauvignon in a New Territories' village store. I sipped it in wonder and fell in love with the stuff. Chilean wines keep getting better; and the country now exports about $4 billion worth of wine annually to 90 countries and the national list of gold labels is impressive. There is huge French influence in this wine, as with many of the premier labels of the region. The young wine ferments in big French oak vats and is then aged for 18 months in new casks. This gives it a musky, strong taste with delightful chocolate overtones. The estate is named Haras de Pirque, honouring Chile's oldest stud farm founded in 1892. Concord is eager for people to discover this label and is offering it to South China Morning Post readers for $357.
Concord Fine Wines (tel: 2111 3009)
Baron Philippe de Rothschild
Reserve 2002, $150
The perfect climate and soil of Maipo have tempted many leading international wine houses to plant their roots in the area, including the House of Rothschild. This terrific wine is reasonably priced and if left in a cool cellar for about five years will develop gorgeously. Even at this tender age, the wine displays a ripe intensity with a vanilla-spice character. This goes well with any red meat.
Jebsen (tel: 2926 2240)