At this urban winery located in the city of Santiago, Wine Enthusiast's Contrbuting Editor, Michael Schachner, sits down with the commercial director and chief winemaker to talk about post-earthquake renovations and two top bottlings.
Among New World wine-producing countries, Chile has earned a reputation as a value leader, with many good-to-excellent wines priced under $15 a bottle. Which isn’t to say that the Chilean wine region doesn’t produce its share of top-flight wines as well; in fact, some of its red varietals and blends can compete with the great wines of the New and Old World.
If one grape is king in the Chilean wine regions, it’s Cabernet Sauvignon, which since the dawning of Chile’s wine industry in the 1850s has consistently succeeded in the country’s warm, dry, Pacific Ocean-and-Andes influenced climate. Other red varieties in Chile are Merlot, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Malbec and the signature Carmenère, a Bordeaux variety now found almost exclusively in Chile (98% of the world’s Carmenère is grown there). As for white wines, Chilean Sauvignon Blanc has become increasingly popular and performs well when grown close to the cool Pacific; Chardonnay is also ubiquitous in Chile.
Regionally speaking, most Chilean winegrapes are grown in a number of river-fed valleys in the central portion of this long, thin country, including Maipo, Casablanca, Rapel, Colchagua, Curicó and Maule. In recent years, wineries have expanded the grape belt to Bío Bío in the cool and sometimes wet south as well as Limarí and Elqui in the dry, breezy north.
Wine Enthusiast’s Buying Guide features thousands of Chilean wine ratings from all over the country. Conduct a quick and easy search to find ratings from your favorite producers to access the Chilean wine guide.
One of Chile’s best wines is excellent in 2007. The bouquet is concentrated, jammy and powerful, with Graham cracker sweetness offset by earth notes and leather. Lush and deep across the palate, with classy cassis, blackberry and fudge flavors. Layered and silky on the finish. Drink now through 2014.
Typically intense, polished and smooth up front, this has concentrated aromas of graphite, cola, wild berry, spice, coconut and wood. It feels full and makes a statement on the palate, where baked, earthy, fully loaded flavors of clove, herb and black fruit hold court. Oaky and spicy on the finish, this needs another 2–4 years to fully settle.
This Colchagua Valley blend smells of lead pencil, coconut, black cherry, spice and vanilla. The mouthfeel is firm, solid and complete, with dark berry, fine herbs and spice flavors. On one hand it’s fresh and alert; on the other hand its dense and brooding, with coffee and dark spice accents. Drink now–2017; only 355 cases produced.
What a lush and spectacular New World Malbec. Buttery aromas of coconut and black fruits mix with herbs, mineral and char to create a near-perfect bouquet. The palate is saturated and balanced by great natural acidity, which frames the blackberry and herb flavors in excellent light. Meaty, textured, fruity and balanced: What more could you want? Drink now–2010…
One of Chile’s benchmark wines is typically clean, pure and inviting. The nose is ripe and lusty, while the palate is vital, juicy, fresh and crisp, with fine Cabernet flavors of black currant, cherry, chocolate and more. Probably the closest thing in style to great Napa Valley Cab; deep, dense and long on the finish. A hearty but refined wine to drink now through 2017.
The scent reads as fruity and a touch smoky; on the tongue, it’s surprisingly sweet, finishing long and fruity, with some herbaceous and vanilla notes on the finish. A smooth and sophisticated pisco, and an excellent value.
Superpretty aromas of earth, balsam wood, coconut, graphite and blackberry comprise the excellent bouquet. It feels full and shows great definition, with smoky dark-berry flavors and notes of licorice and pepper.
It’s elegant on the finish for such a muscular, modern Syrah. Drink now–2016. One of Chile’s best Syrahs.
This is as stout as they come, with excellent depth, structure and pulse, all of which make it a prime cellar candidate. It shows balsamic aromas of cedar, spiced berry and earth. The mouthfeel is ripe and smooth, with grip and power held in reserve. It tastes of chocolaty berry fruit and savory herb, and it’s warm and roasted on the finish. Drink from 2013–2018.