Everyone loves to find wine that over-delivers in its price range. For big red lovers, Chile may be the new favorite country. It produces some outstanding wines, especially with cabernet sauvignon and carmenere (a cousin to merlot). Wines available at North Loop Wine & Spirits, 218 Washington Ave. N., Mpls., 612-338-5393
Almaviva 2005 (Puente Alto)
Price: $72.99 blend: 73 percent cabernet sauvignon, 22 percent carmenere, and a touch of cabernet franc • This is Chile’s version of Opus One. After the sticker shock, remember that this wine scored a 96 from Wine Spectator and would be $200 if it were from Napa (plus it will age in your cellar for 20 years or more). The big, dark berry fruit is balanced with tannins, chocolate, and oak.
Gran Crucero Limited Edition 2006 (Colchagua Valley)
Price: $21.99 blend: A blend of cabernet sauvignon, carmenere, and syrah • Lush and full bodied, it has lots of dark cherry, cassis, and plum fruit followed by peppery spice and vanilla. It would be fun to pair this with olives, stinky cheese, and great bread.
Yali Cabernet Carmenere 2008 (Colchagua Valley)
Price: $10.99 blend: 60 percent cabernet sauvignon, 40 percent carmenere • Surprisingly bold, this one is a little heavy on the alcohol out of the gate, but it mellows after a few minutes. A bit earthy, it has lots of dark berry fruit and spice. Your new pizza wine.
Bill Coy runs Vintage U, which organizes wine tastings, classes, and events for corporate groups, wine enthusiasts, and the general public. Reach him at VintageU@msn.com.