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.
Punchbowl aromas carry some sweetness, but the flavor package is pure green fruit and citrus, with maybe a touch of pink grapefruit. It’s wet, refreshing and pretty good in terms of balance and feel.— M.S. (9/1/2007)
Yellow Delicious apple and melon aromas start it off in a fruity direction, and the palate shows peach and pear flavors. With no oak, there’s no butter, toast or resin to speak of. There is, however, a sugary almost Riesling-esque quality to the wine. All in all, it’s unconventional but pretty good, with a nice bolt of acidity keeping it wide awake. Imported by T…— M.S. (9/1/2007)
Plenty of barrel char and spice get it going, and behind those aromas there’s leather and meaty fruit aromas. Flavors of plum, blackberry and chocolate work the palate, while the finish is easy going and smooth but fairly innocuous in its feel and lasting impression.— M.S. (9/1/2007)
A rewarding mix of sweet red fruits and earthy chocolate is what this Syrah-Cabernet blend holds in store. The nose deals cola and coffee with some syrupy berry aromas, while the palate is grabby and a touch rough but also endowed with a ripe, forward fruit character.— M.S. (9/1/2007)
Dark and dense, but also a touch warm and soupy. Air allows it to unfold and show boysenberry and plum flavors, while the feel is creamy, syrupy and flush. Overall it’s tasty enough and reasonably well made, although there are some herbal flavors that rise up on the midpalate and finish. A big-production wine at 45,000 cases.— M.S. (9/1/2007)
If it weren’t for the slight lettuce-like aromas and flavors that snake through the wine’s nose and palate, this would be ideal. And even with those hints of green it has good red fruit and vanilla flavors backed by chewy tannins.— M.S. (9/1/2007)
TerraNoble certainly hits you with some major oak character, but still the wine works in its price range. The nose is woody while the palate is plump and full of berry flavors along with some buttery character. Shows spice and a hint of green on the finish.— M.S. (9/1/2007)
This Spanish producer’s Chilean label relies on Cabernet and Carmenère for this blend, and it’s a little vegetal and murky at first. Airing frees oak and creamy red-fruit flavors, while the chocolaty finish is of medium length.— M.S. (9/1/2007)