Chile is churning out loads of good, inexpensive wines these days, from its signature sauvignon blancs to its up-and-coming pinot noirs. For me, the whites still offer the best values in the under-$20 category, and there are standouts to try beyond the ubiquitous sauvignons.
One of them is the delightful 2012 Meli Dry Riesling from Chile’s Maule Valley. This refreshing $13 wine is an excellent value and can easily compete with comparably priced rieslings from elsewhere, including Germany, France’s Alsace, Washington state and the Finger Lakes in New York, to name just a few of the regions better known for riesling.
While Chile only produces a small amount of riesling, the 2012 Meli suggests that we should pay more attention to the variety there. The wine is estate grown from 60-year-old vines with a production of only 1,000 cases, remarkable qualities for a $13 wine.
The tastes are what I think of as classic for dry riesling – stone fruit, especially apricot and white peach, lime and background floral and vanilla notes. There’s a good deal of minerality on the long finish. Bracing acidity makes it a great match for broiled and grilled seafood and shellfish. I enjoyed it the other night with a pasta dish – penne tossed with smoked salmon, asparagus, lemon and topped with generous amounts of parmesan and black pepper.
I also found it wonderful on its own – a crisp, slightly different summer sipper that should turn riesling skeptics into riesling converts. (Imported by Global Vineyard Importers, Berkeley, Calif.)