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.
Full and chunky, with a nose of corn cakes, melon and a touch of pickled oak. Banana, mango and melon flavors are sweet and candied, but just enough acidity keeps it on an even keel. Good, but with a sugary side to it.— M.S. (2/1/2005)
Broad pear, apple and vanilla aromas arise from copious oak, yet a woody element really sticks out on the palate. Fortunately there’s a good mouthfeel to the wine and ample acidity. For oak fans.— M.S. (2/1/2005)
Big, bold and broad, with lots of fruit and a masculine, rubbery quality to the nose. Round plum, chocolate and almond candy on the palate, followed by an extracted finish. A touch green at the center, but largely solid.— M.S. (2/1/2005)
Peach, pear and pineapple fruit, all done up in toasty, butterscotchy oak. Plump in the mouth and a little soft on the vanilla-laden finish. A crowd-pleaser.— W.E. (2/1/2005)
Simple, with mild vegetal aromas, hints of tobacco and lean red fruit. Typical beet and bramble define the palate, with is textured if not overly flavorful. Finishes dark and smoky, with a shock of green.— M.S. (2/1/2005)
Dark and pruny, with molasses, chocolate and beet juice on the nose. Semisweet raspberry and strawberry flavors set up a racy finish that carries live acidity and some serious tannins.— M.S. (2/1/2005)
Plenty of oak, which must be why it’s called “Gran Reserva.” Along with the lumber you’ll find chocolate, marinade and pickle. Fat on the palate, with bulky black plum and blackberry flavors. Licorice, coffee and green bean notes define the finish.— M.S. (2/1/2005)
Lean and spicy, with some green in the middle of the nose that’s similar to celery. Additional bell pepper hangs heavily on the palate, but there’s just enough berry to offset it. Tight in terms of feel, with well-integrated tannins. Feels nice; tastes more herbal than ideal.— M.S. (2/1/2005)