Normally we have an aversion to cutsie animal names and labels that feature cuddly creatures, but we never bothered to translate Oveja Negro from the Spanish (black sheep). And we always gave the woolly guy on the label a pass since wine is truly an agricultural product (which is our rationalization for looking the other way on one of our favorite French value wines, affectionately known as the ‘chicken wine’).
Oveja Negra Reserva from Chile’s Maule Valley, which is widely available in both red and white blends along with the rosè blend, has been consistently good for several years and is generally a bargain at its typical price of $10 to $12 a bottle. But Montgomery County Liquor stores have all three on sale for $8.49 a bottle, among the lowest prices in the country. (If you happen to find yourself in Blackburg, VA, you’ll find the rosè for the lowest price in the country at Vintage Cellar.)
“Aromas of dark chocolate, black cherry and plum with a note of black licorice and cola,” is how Kulers describes the wine, which sports a modest 13.5 percent alcohol by volume. “Medium-plus body with juicy, tart, dark berry and cranberry fruit with a pleasant minty, herbal note on the finish.”
Wine Spectator’s James Molesworth seems to agree, calling the red blend, “Soft but aromatic, with mint and tobacco leaf notes to lead the way for modest cherry and plum fruit.”
Tastings.com, the website of the Beverage Testing Institute, gave all three wines available locally a “Best Buy” rating at $12 a bottle: the 2010 Reserva Cabernet Franc-Carmenere, the 2010 Reserva Rosè (a blend of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon), and the 2011 Reserva Sauvignon Blanc-Carmenere blend (a white made with a splash of Chile’s signature red-wine grape, Carmenere).
Spectator’s Molesworth scored the Sauvignon Blanc-Carmenere 87 points, describing it as, “Soft, with rounded pear and savory herb notes backed by a lingering melon rind hint.”
He was less generous with points on the rosè, scoring it a still-good 83 points. “A light-bodied rosé, with modest mulled strawberry and watermelon notes,” he wrote.
“The light pink/orange Provence-like colour attracts. The palate is juicy and lively if a touch warm with earthy, raspberry dried herbs flavours,” according to the tasting notes of Stuart Tobe and Anthony Gismondi, Canadian wine critics who scored the rosè 85 points on the GismondiOnWine.com website. “On the nose you get a light herbal earthy undertone flecked with quiet red fruit aromas. A solid summer sipper.”
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