This is my sort of wine - and suffers none of the shrill, flash sweetness of many Chileans at twice or even three times the price. It is yet another label in which the talented winemaker Alvaro Espinoza is involved but this one is not founded on organic or biodynamic principles. And it is yet another label which, ultimately, belongs to the tentacular Concha y Toro. But fortunately for us all, Chile's largest wine company is in general a pretty benevolent force, encouraging innovation and letting its stable of winemaking talent get on with it.
Cucao Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah 2005 Rapel is a blend of 85 per cent Colchagua Cabernet (from Los Robles vineyard) with Syrah was made under the umbrella of GEO wines, conceived by Sergio Reyes Moore in 2001 as a way of marketing small parcels of wine from particularly promising areas. Espinoza and Juan Carlos Faundez act as winemakers and the basic, unoaked range is sold under the name Rayun. Cucao (looking distractingly like cocoa but in fact one of those rare Chilean reds that is not at all reminiscent of chocolate) is the name of the range of wines with Reserva status and is the name of a small South American bird which in Chile is supposed to lucky. The wine was given a week-long cold soak (5 deg C/41 deg F) to concentrate flavour and after fermentation half of the wine spent eight months in a mixture of French and American oak which has been used to particularly clever effect here, just to add depth and complexity but no whiff of its presence remains.
This wine is exceptionally sophisticated for its price with great texture and subtlety. Ripe Cabernet is reined in by the savour of the Syrah and the whole is thoroughly gluggable, though best not since it is 14%.
US importers are Montecastelli in New York and North Berkeley Imports in California. Brits can buy it for just £6.10 (only independent family wine merchants have prices like this) from Tanners of Shrewsbury, who have a thriving mail order business. Its importer GEO Wines (Richard.email@example.com) can distribute it to anywhere in Europe and tells me it is also available at Virgin Wines and RSWines of Bristol and, Via Ad Bibendum, in various restaurants in Benelux countries. According to winesearcher.com the only other country in which it can be found is Denmark, where it seems to cost only 7.40 euros, which really is a bargain.
Drink it with sausages, spaghetti carbonara or seared tuna with a soy element. It could stand up to quite salty food - bravado is the word that comes to mind when I think of this wine.