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.
Oaky and dark, with aromas of shoe polish, hard spice and black fruit. It’s plump and slightly creamy on the tongue, with flavors of resin, black plum and raspberry. Finishes rather oaky and peppery for a wine with modest fruit and little varietal character. With 14% Malbec, Merlot and Cab Sauvignon.— M.S. (11/15/2008)
A little harsh and vegetal out of the chute, but when you consider that Cab Franc accounts for the majority of the blend along with Petit Verdot, the greenish, herbal character makes more sense. In the mouth, it’s mildly citric, while grab and heat smother the finish. Good as a whole but fails to make a lasting impression because frankly there isn’t that much…— M.S. (11/15/2008)
A blend of sweet and savory aromas seems true and favorable. The palate is slightly less interesting but solid, with basic candied fruit flavors as well as chocolate. Gets plumper and richer as it opens, finishing with berry extract and ample woodspice.— M.S. (11/15/2008)
Starts with a lot of bell pepper, green bean and coffee. But before you dismiss it as too vegetal or underdeveloped, it has a good mouthfeel and solid tannins that frame mature olive, blackberry and herbal flavors. With chocolaty chewiness to the finish, this is still good Carmenère to drink now.— M.S. (11/15/2008)
A bit of brambly sharpness guards the bouquet, but digging will get you to raspberry and plum aromas. The palate is a little hard and could use more texture; short of that the wine delivers pepper, cherry and raspberry flavors backed by a structured finish.— M.S. (9/1/2008)
Good if you like a big-boned red wine with plenty of extract, tannin and depth. The dark color gives this one away: it’s chunky and grabby but also ripe, flush and receptive to airing. Hints of the herbals confirm that it’s Carmenère.— M.S. (9/1/2008)
You can literally smell the oak, right down to the wood’s grain and resin. The palate is full and dense, with sweet, chewy berry fruit and lots of oak in support. Gets better with airing, but always holds onto the vanilla and cheese qualities that come straight from the barrel.— M.S. (9/1/2008)
Given the price this is pretty good stuff. It’s plush and offers enough body and ripe fruit to offset the fact that there isn’t a whole lot of structure or backbone. For a soft, tasty plum-and-herb style of Carmenère, however, it gets the job done.— M.S. (9/1/2008)