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Chilean Sauvignon Blanc under £10

And the winner is...

Marks & Spencer Sauvignon Blanc Limarí Valley 2008

Marcelo Papa is a man on a mission. Several missions, actually – as well as turning out some brilliantly consistent and characterful wines under Concha y Toro’s large-scale Casillero del Diablo brand, he also heads up Concha’s Maycas operation based in the arid northerly Limarí region.

It’s an area that has become something of a personal passion for this personable winemaker, especially in terms of its whites. And it shows, given that two of this year’s Regional Trophies come from his Limarí stable.

‘We’re getting to know the best plots now,’ comments Papa of the El Tangue vineyard, which sits 22 kilometres from the sea in limestone-encrusted soils within the highly rated area of Quebrada Seca. Concha y Toro started work in this area in 2005 but progress has been rapid: under-performing plants have been re-grafted (these Sauvignon Blanc vines were once Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot) and viticultural lessons learned fast.

It’s clear to see from the increasingly nuanced wines that the attention to detail is reaping rewards.

What’s impressive about this Sauvignon Blanc is its audacity: it dares to be different. It’s very different in style from San Antonio’s richness and swagger; it sits apart from Elqui’s tangy brightness. Instead, it is savoury and saline, with flavours of roasted green peppers and a faint whiff of goat’s cheese.

On the palate, it is taut and structured, with a subtle mineral undertow. All in all, a highly distinctive, terroir-driven wine suggestive of a new style for Chile – and superb value to boot

Written by Peter Richards

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