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.
Despite not being overly dense or powerful, the nose features ample berry aromas and a hint of herbal essence. The mouth delivers plum, cherry and berry fruit and then it goes spicy and oaky on the drying finish. Though not big and fat, there’s substance and plenty of taste here.— M.S. (7/1/2003)
Spicy, earthy aromas are warm and fairly deep, while a snappy, acidic palate of berry fruit supported buy buttery oak does the trick. The finish is substantive and only mildly tannic, while the overall personality is fresh and clean.— M.S. (7/1/2003)
Its sharp grassy and gooseberry aromas are the type normally associated with Sauvignon Blanc. On the palate, grapefruit and passion fruit flavors further drive home that impression, but it’s labeled Chardonnay, and that’s what it is. The acidity is nice so the mouthfeel is fresh.— M.S. (7/1/2003)
Lean and fresh, with pure apple and oak aromas. The palate runs a little sweet, but melon and pineapple flavors ride popping acidity and thus it never seem heavy or overripe. Like many current-release whites from Chile, this one delivers verve and ample fruit.— M.S. (7/1/2003)
A no-frills mass-appeal wine with a pretty color, ripe aromatics and a hint of oak. The palate is solid and full-flavored, while the finish is smooth and easy. Ripe, clean and round.— M.S. (7/1/2003)
The cherry and cinnamon aromas are true and inviting, and they stand up to the oak that’s been thrown at this Pinot. The flavor profile deals raspberry and cherry amid oaky shadings. The finish is toasty and warm, with some coffee popping up late in the game. Fresh, fruity and true.— M.S. (7/1/2003)
An initial aromatic check reveals some cheesy, funky smells, but they blow off to reveal a solid, everyday red wine. The palate is surprisingly rich, and it tastes of boysenberry fruit. The finish has some zip and length to it, and also some overt oaky flavor. Sure, it’s thin and easy by big-wine standards, but within its class of value-priced reds it’s sturdy and…— M.S. (7/1/2003)
Potent aromas of red fruit, rubber and lemony oak kick things off, followed by a very typical mix of cherry and berry flavors. The finish is properly tannic and round, with an acid-driven freshness that secures the mouthfeel. This has more red than dark fruit, but it’s still a perfectly quaffable Cabernet.— M.S. (7/1/2003)