A Trio From The Other Down Under: Cousiño Macul, Maipo Valley Chile

The family-owned Cousiño Macul is one of Chile's most recognizable names in wine.  No shocker seeing as they've been making wine in the Maipo Valley for the last 150 years.  Winebow, Macul's US importer, sent us three from the entry-level line up as an intro to the brand.  Word is the higher-end bottlings, though limited in production, aren't half bad.  But we've got plenty to talk about focusing just on this sampling.

Overall, these wines are true to their origin.  They taste Chilean.  And they deliver.  The Chardonnay was our least favorite, but it at least tasted like Chardonnay, which is more than we can say for a lot of other bottlings we've had lately.  The Cab is textbook and a terrific value.  Finally, the Sauvignon Gris is an absolute standout of a wine that intrigues.  You'd be missing out if you didn't put your hands on this unique varietal done very, very well.

Disclosure: These wines, which were all received as press samples, were tasted blind in separate sessions.

2009 Chardonnay Maipo Valley Chile $12
Pale blond and unremarkable looking, but we didn't open this thing for a beauty contest, did we?  Unquestionably Chardonnay.  You don't even have to get close to the glass - the aromatics are eager to come to you.  More fresh green zest than expected, but a solid core of Chard fruit scents.  Very pleasant, even-keeled, and with a finish cut short by a good acidic bite that is its only drawback. 

2009 Sauvignon Gris Maipo Valley Chile $14
The homecoming queen of this threepack and a very pleasant introduction to this varietal.  Sauvignon Gris, a clonal mutation of Sauvignon Blanc, is usually only used as a blending grape.  Hard to understand why after sampling the alchemy Pascal Marty's winemaking team has pulled off with this bottling.  The crisp nose gives way to a welcoming, round body causing involuntary bursts of "Wow" and "Oooh, that's nice".  Very well balanced.  Long, lovely, and slightly creamy finish.  Moderated alcohol taste.  Not a mind-blower, but a standout.  Most easily enjoyable Sauvignon in a long time.  Over delivers in a big way.

2007 Cabernet Antiguas Reservas Maipo Valley Chile $11
A lovely wine that almost gets there, but an outstanding value for fans of the classic Chilean Cabernet profile.  Oooooh.... Sultry-looking with a luxurious nose. Heady, spicy aromatics that have depth and intrigue. Lovely texture. Medium-full bodied with full smoky fruit. Sort of hits a ceiling midway through the palate, but ought to loosen up given some time to relax and deliver. Lovers of South America's green pepper, anise, and studded treads qualities will really enjoy this wine.  Originally thought to be a $16, it is instead a solid value at $11.