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.
More grassy, stemmy and green than ideal, with a heavy, syrupy mouthfeel and thick, herbal berry fruit flavors. It’s a minty, leafy tasting wine but also one that’s dark and full-bodied, with core sweetness. Needs more work and clarity.— M.S. (12/31/2010)
Salinic on the nose, like a swimming pool, with nutty hints of apple, pear and butter. The wine tastes resiny and toasty, and also a little manufactured, with sweet apple and melon flavors mixed with toast and sugar. Chunky, decent and pedestrian, even by Chilean standards.— M.S. (12/1/2010)
Over-the-top, starting with the aromas of nettle, sweat and grapefruit. With Sauvignon Blanc there’s citric and then there’s citric, and this SB forgoes elegance and finesse and instead pushes wild grapefruit, passionfruit and green citrus. It’s extreme and highly aggressive. Needs refining.— M.S. (12/1/2010)
Herbal from the beginning, with bell pepper, olive and brambly fruit aromas. Round and full in the mouth, with flavors of wild berry, green pepper, carob and spice. The mouthfeel is mostly positive but acidic, and the green element is more than a bit player. Imported by Ecovalley Quality Wine Group and National Refrescos Import Company, LLC.— M.S. (12/1/2010)
Smells like pineapple blended with lemon candy. Zesty in the mouth, with crisp lemon, lime, bell pepper and a touch of mineral stoniness. Long on the finish, and for a wine of this price it’s delivering the max. Likable and not complicated.— M.S. (12/1/2010)
Vanilla, wood shavings, charcoal and floral berry aromas come with a hint of minty green. The palate has a healthy but common grabbiness to it, with flavors of black cherry, cassis and herbs. Almost cloying on the finish, with candied notes and vanilla. A strange wine that doesn’t fully come together.— M.S. (12/1/2010)
Earth, leather and roasted berry fruit are exactly what a wine of this base grape and price should smell like. The palate is medium in intensity, with herbal flavors, dark berry fruit notes and leather. Call it basic but comfortable, with varietal correctness.— M.S. (12/1/2010)
Dark in color, smoky and full of coconut and mocha aromas. However, the palate is more acidic, tight and starching than ideal. Add in peppery, herbal flavors to the black cherry, oak and high acidity and it gives off a tight, crisp personality.— M.S. (12/1/2010)