Magazine article The Spectator

A Toast to General Pinochet

Magazine article The Spectator

A Toast to General Pinochet

Article excerpt

EL VINO produced such excellent red wines this time, and so generously reduced in price, that on this occasion I decided to overlook their famous own-label red Velvin from the Rhone at L3.85, despite its princely reduction from L3.95, and go for slightly more expensive stuff. But nobody who has tasted the magnificent Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile(4) at L5.70 can possibly say I am wrong.

First, the two whites. 'Steen', as many will be aware, is Afrikaans, or at any rate South African, for Chenin Blanc, or so they say. At any rate it makes an excellent dry white, better than any of the dry Vouvrays or Layons produced on the Loire. This example(') has a surprisingly strong smell and clean, fresh, crisp taste which makes it a bargain at L4.85, weighing in at only 11.5 per cent alcohol.

This month's New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc(2) is more expensive at L6.85 and has a ridiculous label. Goodness knows why they decided in Nelson, South Island, to call it Dancing Sun, but this is the price one has to pay for good New Zealand Sauvignon nowadays and, having tasted many of them, I can confidently say this is one of the best. A strong (12.5 per cent) gutsy wine with no cats' pee, plenty of gooseberry leaves (as they say), and it is a good buy if you can overlook the label.

Now for the reds. The price of Cotes du Rhone has started to rise alarmingly, but the Domaine des Romarins has produced a first-class wine at the much reduced price of L4.50. So far I have not been much impressed by the 1997s, but this one has a lovely peppery smell and a good, full, rich, fruity taste from which plums are not entirely absent.

Next the star of the offer. I am sometimes accused of a partiality for the wines of Chile. I have never been there and don't want to go. I am deeply ashamed, like all decent Englishmen, of the way Mr Straw has treated the 86-year-old General Pinochet, our former ally in that part of the world. …

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