See wine news for a report on the current state of Chilean wine, and a competition for which this wine was not entered.
As I pointed out in wine news last Saturday, Chile is one of very few sources of well-priced Pinot Noir. Oregon, California and New Zealand can all claim to produce some seriously interesting examples but very, very few of them would qualify as a bargain. Yet Chile has been exporting some perfectly recognisable and drinkable, if usually light, Pinot Noir ever since the first vintage of Cono Sur more than a decade ago.
But this Piedra Feliz (happy stone? not nearly as poetic in English) is something special. It's the first vintage from the combined efforts of Michel Laroche of Chablis and Jorge Coderch the original caballo loco, or wild horse, of Valdivieso and is much deeper and more intense than Chilean Pinots that have so far come my way at under ten pounds a bottle retail.
It's made from fruit planted in the fog-cooled Casablanca Valley in 1997, mainly the Burgundian clone 777 and all on their own roots in the Chilean pest-free manner. The wine is not too sweet (a besetting sin of New World Pinot Noir to my palate), is very slightly but not excessively medicinal, and I can attest that, unlike any burgundy of my acquaintance, it retains its freshness for several days in an open bottle.
It seems to me a very good buy at £9.99 a bottle from larger Safeway and Waitrose stores in the UK and from Waitrose Direct at www.waitrose.com/wines.
I am assured that it is available in 25 different markets around the world and, though I tend to take these claims with a pinch of salt, I was very impressed by the global graphic used by www.michellaroche.com to show distribution details with admirable clarity for each individual wine in the Michel Laroche stable (click on Chile first).
Drink this rich Pinot in warm or cool weather, with fish, fowl or meat over the next couple of years.