At this urban winery located in the city of Santiago, Wine Enthusiast's Contrbuting Editor, Michael Schachner, sits down with the commercial director and chief winemaker to talk about post-earthquake renovations and two top bottlings.
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.
Dark, dense, spicy and full of everything nice, including cola, berry, earth and richness. The palate has ideal ripeness and power, and the flavors are a clever mix of light herbs, spice, chocolate and blasting berry. Long and sultry on the finish, with tobacco and immense complexity. One of Chile’s very best wines; a blend of Syrah, Carmenère, Cabernet and Merlot.
Terrific Chilean red wine; seductive and succulent, with a beautiful burgundy hue matched by pure, ripe Bordeaux-like flavors. Deep and satisfying, and smooth as silk. If ever a Chilean red ranked as world class, this is it. Imported by Bacchus International.
A dense bouquet of dark cherries, plum, earth, meat and subtle tobacco pulls you in. It is big in the mouth, yet never brutish, with lovely depth of fruit flavor, earthy accents and great texture. The fine, long finish has even, dry tannins. Seductively accessible, this world class wine will age well for 6–12 years or longer.
This is 90% old-vine Malbec with 10% Cabernet thrown in. The best one-word description is “awesome.” The 80-year-old Malbecvines is full of clove, licorice and marzipan nuances. The flavor profile offers berries, sweetmeat pie and maple syrup. The finish is huge but soft. The body is massive and concentrated, but entirely friendly. This is indeed a super Chilean in…
Made from 30-year-old vines, this wine represents the pinnacle of Santa Rita’s production. It’s lush and rich, with vanilla, cedar, tobacco and cassis aromas. The palate is layered and textured, displaying the perfect mix of concentration and softness. Finishes supple, with smooth tannins and some chocolate and marshmallow. One of Chile’s best.
The Chadwicks have hit the big time with this superb Cabernet-dominated blend. The bouquet of black cherry, charcoal, plum and tree bark is sensational, while the cassis, cherry and tobacco flavors sing on the palate. Lots of fruit, power and balance, with a touch of earthiness.
Altaïr is a fortressed high-end Cabernet blend with mineral and charred aromas announcing a palate coated with dense berry flavors, tobacco, vanilla and balsamic notes. It’s a complex wine that is fairly tough out of the bottle. Ideally it should be cellared for another three to five years.
This comes across as the best Don Melchor that Concha y Toro has produced, and at $69 it should be. It’s very ripe, with oak sitting atop pure cassis and plum aromas. The palate is sweet, juicy and packed with dynamite blackberry and black plum flavors. Dark, chocolaty and long on the finish, with ripe tannins. Drink now or hold for five years.