Parinacota: a volcanic mountain in Northern
(Photo: Gerd Breitenbach)
The name Kintu sounds Japanese, like the name of some kind of sushi bar. But
a web search revealed that according to an old Ugandan legend, a man called
Kintu was once the only person on earth and lived alone with his cow. At
least he got free milk, though I don’t suppose the conversation was very
If I’d had the sense to look at the bottle label first, I’d have found out
that the name Kintu is also an ancient Chilean word meaning a “fine view”.
This is presumably why the front label shows a drawing of a snow-covered
Andean mountain with Spanish galleons in the foreground. European vines were
being trundled across the oceans to Chile even when Shakespeare was a boy.
The Chileans have been making wine there ever since, but it wasn’t until the
early 1980s that the Chilean industry acquired an international reputation.
Kintu Chardonnay 2012 (white),
Chile (Bt. 399 @ Tesco-Lotus)
This pale gold wine has a refreshing floral aroma of peaches,
honey and a faint tang of fresh lemons. It’s got quite a soft texture but
it’s also zesty with lively acidity and a long, fruity and slightly citrusy
finish. Although it’s a dry wine, there’s just the faintest hint of
sweetness on the palate. It has an attractive sprightly character and would
make a jolly good apéritif. The balance is just about right, without an
over-the-top fruitiness that could easily dominate food. Talking of which,
it works well with smoked salmon. And yes, I tried, since you asked. The
dash of acidity would make it a good partner for many Thai and Indian dishes
too. It would go well with roast chicken and many other fish dishes,
including the good old British fish and chips, especially if the fish has a
dry, flaky texture.
Actually, I’ve tried fish and chips in some of the local places but most of
them just can’t seem to get the chips right. They’re invariably soggy and
hard in the middle, exactly the opposite of what a chip should be. The
problem of course lies with the potatoes. Believe me, there’s no way you’ll
ever make decent French fries with the big local potatoes, largely because
there’s too much water in them. I’ve experimented endlessly without success.
Strangely enough, just over the border in Laos they grow small waxy potatoes
that are perfect for French fries. And did you know that there are nearly
5,000 different varieties of potato in the world? No, I thought not. Most of
them can be found in Peru, where there’s even an International Potato
Centre. But I’m starting to ramble. (Yes, I’d noticed - Ed.)
Kintu Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (red), Chile (Bt. 399 @
The first thing you’ll probably note about this wine is its
striking colour, assuming you bother to look at it before having a swig.
It’s a dark purple, but you’ll need to be a bit patient with the aroma. Give
it about twenty minutes air contact, ideally by pouring it into a decanter.
You’ll be rewarded with a lovely brambly smell of red and black berries.
There’s an enticingly soft mouth-feel and plenty of dark, rich fruit on the
palate. It’s a medium-bodied dry wine with an attractive foundation of
tannin and a long, dry finish. It’s rather a serious wine too; dark in
colour and dark in mood. In many ways, it reminds me of red Bordeaux.
Perhaps this is because the Chilean vines are grown in a loamy, sandy soil
in the Maule Valley that’s very similar to the soil in parts of Bordeaux.
Although I describe the wine as “serious” don’t let this put you off,
because it’s quite an easy drinker. However, the back label suggests that
you could drink this wine with pizza and pasta. Well sorry chaps, but I beg
to disagree. To my mind, drinking a Bordeaux-style wine with a pizza is just
being silly. Traditionally a cheap and cheerful Italian meal, pizza really
goes best with a cheap and cheerful Italian wine. A light Bardolino, a
Valpolicella or a chirpy Chianti are far more appropriate. Keep this Chilean
wine for classic red meat dishes. It would work perfectly with steak.
Of course, in polite society there are certain things we simply don’t do,
like holding our dinner knife like a pencil, blowing our nose during the
meal or knocking back red Bordeaux with pizza. So don’t let me catch you
swigging Bordeaux with your Four Seasons, otherwise you’ll receive a poke
with a pointed wooden stick and I shall never speak to you again.