What we’ve been drinking (28 January)

At Decanter we all love our wine, and every week members of the Decanter team - from editorial assistant to publishing director - tell us what they've been enjoying at home and when they go out... What we've been drinking index

Amy Wislocki

Managing Editor, Decanter

   Alta Helena, The Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon Project

Santa Helena is a relatively unknown name in the UK – though better known among Decanter readers after winning last year’s DWWA International Trophy for Pinot Noir Under £10. Its low profile here, though, belies its size; it is Chile’s tenth biggest exporter, with more than half of these exports staying in Latin America. My Colombian brother-in-law knew the wines well when I mentioned that I had met the chief winemaker Matias Rivera. Hugely energetic, Rivera is working on a multitude of new projects, including this four-pack of wines created specifically to illustrate the terroir differences in Chile. Many Chilean winemakers are currently excited by Syrah, but Rivera prefers Cabernet. This set of 100% 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon wines (which will retail at around £60) were all vinified identically and oak aged for 14 months, and all were made from vines grown on ungrafted, phylloxera-free vines from high-altitude single vineyards; the only difference is the origin of the grapes. The front label flags up the characteristics one would expect to find in Aconcagua (intensity, ripeness, sweetness), Maipo (elegance, delicacy, complexity), Colchagua (spiciness, finesse, persistence) and Curico (structure, colour, acidity). It’s a fascinating exercise to taste these wines side by side, as they do genuinely taste very different. The Colchagua wine was quite closed, while the Aconcagua Cab was more forward, with soft, sweet ripe fruit aromas. My favourite though was the Maipo wine, tighter, more concentrated with spicy aromas and a tarry, dark, earthy palate.

Lucy Shaw

Editor assistant, Decanter

   Cave Kouroum, Petit Noir, 2005, Bekaa, Lebanon

I have to admit to being a Lebanese wine virgin. Since joining Decanter, I’ve often been told of the charms of Château Musar, but have never found myself near enough to a bottle to try it. Last night however, I popped my middle-eastern wine cherry at Le Comptios Libanais, a funky cantina-style Lebanese restaurant in London’s Finchley Road. Amid a harem of belly dancers and energetic drummers, I enjoyed a tumbler (or two) of this. Made from a blend of 50% Cinsault, 25% Carignan, 15% Grenache and 10% Syrah, I was pleasantly surprised by the buoyant fruit. The nose was bursting with red fruit, from cherries and cranberries, to red currants, raspberries and strawberry jam. A light, bright, undemanding wine, the palate was smooth and soft, with rounded tannins and a hint of pepper on the finish – a great match for my spicy falafel.

Tina Gellie

Chief Sub Editor, Decanter

   Beronia, Gran Reserva, Rioja Alta, Spain 2001

For some, the savoury-spiced fruit characters of a Rioja is the ultimate in wine pleasure. I’m not normally one of them, often finding the American oak too overpowering, even in mature wines. But this Gran Reserva certainly made me sit up and think differently, as it should have – it won Gold at last year’s Decanter World Wine Awards. Owned by Sherry maestros Gonzalez Byass, Beronia’s top wines come from a minimum of 50-year-old vines – 87% Tempranillo, bolstered by Graciano and Mazuelo. Silky smooth texture, fine-grained tannins and perfect balance between lush fruit and well-handled oak. It has a modern touch, but the leather- and tobacco-scented olive and balsamic fruits are classic Rioja. Real value at £18 and perfect with slow-cooked lamb shanks.

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