I'm often asked, "who's producing the best values in wine today?" My answer is that Italy always rules for value, but the country making today's most crowd-pleasing wines is Chile.
Chile has a wine tradition, highly skilled people, lots of investment and a finger on popular North American taste. Unfortunately for them, a worldwide wine surplus is forcing producers sell at low prices. It's as if we were getting Chilean wine at cost, so enjoy it while you can.
Another feature of the Chilean wines industry is the number of large scale wineries, which can supply major retailers such as the LCBO with consistent products year to year.
Carmen Chardonnay delivers Marilyn Monroe-style wine at an everyday price. It's a bit glitzy but very seductive, and is great company with something spicy, like blackened chicken. Chile's Concha y Toro produces a huge amount of quality wine at everyday prices. One of their new box wines called 'Likan' delivers solid Cabernet character. A semi-rich red that's a gutsy partner for hearty foods.
- Sign up for my March Break Wine Camp. Thursday, March 15. Taste seven wines, great food ... and nice camp counsellors. See www.billysbestbottles.comfor details.
Billy Munnelly is author, wine critic and publisher of the most useful wine book on the market, Billy's Best Bottles Wines for 2007, a guide to the best wines at the LCBO. Available in bookstores or at www.billysbestbottles.com. For LCBO Vintages recommendations, wine events and in-home wine tastings, visit www.billysbestbottles.com.
•Carmen '05 Chardonnay, Chile