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.
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)
There’s plenty of oak to this solid, peppery Merlot that’s also a touch green. The cassis and cherry fruit that drives the palate is healthy and sturdy, while the finish features some tight-grained oak and firm enough tannins. Maybe too much oak given the fruit quality.— M.S. (7/1/2003)
Nectarine aromas along with a touch of mint kick it off. The second act is an apple and pear palate with a bit of licorice and an undercurrent of mineral. The palate remains solid and fruity, and the wine seems fresh and healthy despite being a few years old.— M.S. (7/1/2003)
The aromas are a touch prickly and sharp, and there’s some heavy oak on the nose. But in the mouth it’s more harmonious, with sweet fruit and more than enough barrel spice. The finish is simple and clean, so it fades away nicely. The only problem is a lasting salty, wood-dominated essence.— M.S. (7/1/2003)
Full and meaty, with plenty of mainstream black fruit. There is a good amount of plum and cherry aromas and flavors, and a ripe, satisfying finish. With good acidity and fresh flavors, it can please the masses.— M.S. (7/1/2003)
Pungent aromas of lemony oak, peanuts and maple are the opening act. The next act is a big, sweet palate with monster extraction and the flavors of brandied black cherries. For some it might be too sweet, especially when the acidity kicks in to create a juicy palate feel not unlike fruit juice.— M.S. (7/1/2003)