Though considered a 'New World' wine, the history of winemaking in Chile is
centuries old, and dates back to the 16th century when Spanish conquistadores first brought
European grape varieties to the region for planting. Today this region is gaining continued acclaim
for the quality of its wines, with a focus on Bordeaux red and white grape varieties, as well
as the excellent value they offer.
About the Wines of Chile
Although there are several different climactic profiles in Chile, the majority are
Mediterranean with cool nights and warm to hot days, ideal for classic Bordeaux grapes.
One of the country's most unique aspects is its extreme isolation - bordered by the Pacific, the
Andes, the Atacama Desert and Antarctica. With European grapes brought in during the 16th century,
Chile is today perhaps the only wine region untouched by the phylloxera louse, and boasts
varieties and clones believed to be extinct in other parts of the world.
Chilean Wine Regions: from Casablanca to the Maipo
Chile's wine region encompasses an 800-mile stretch with its warmer
regions located at the northern end, and its cooler regions in the south. Most areas
are planted primarily with the red and white Bordeaux varieties including Cabernet
Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc. The Maipo Valley in the Valle Central is particularly renowned for
its Cabernet Sauvignon, as is the Rapel Region of Calchagua Province and the northern region
of Aconcagua. Cooler than these areas, the Casablanca Valley is primarily devoted to
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
The Carmenère Grape
One of the traditional red grape varieties of France, Carmenère is today grown rarely
in France but has flourished in Chile. When France's vineyards were decimated in the 19th century
by phylloxera, Carmenère was particularly affected and was believed to have gone extinct.
Imported before this scourge, plantings in Chile were mistakenly labelled as Merlot due to the
grapes' similarity, and these vines were only identified as Carmenère during the 1990s.
Still velvety but with more backbone than many Merlots, I find this variety to be the wine I often
wish Merlot was, and is one of my favorites from Chile.
Chilean Wine - Tasting Reviews
Misiones de Rengo Sauvignon Blanc, Valle Central
Effusive aroma with exotic touches of lychee and
pineapple. Very slightly off-dry, with fuller body for the
2008 Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc Reserva, Casablanca
From the cooler Casablanca Valley, the Veramonte is more bracing and steely than the de Rengo, with
lively freshness and acidity.($11)
2008 Terra Andina Carmenère, Valle Central
and smooth, with ripe dark fruit flavors and luscious tannins. Shows nice complexity with pepper
and cedar notes. ($10)
2007 Cousino Macul Cabernet Sauvignon
Antiguas Reservas, Maipo Valley
Very earthy, natural aroma that takes some air to open up, suggesting
good aging potential. Hearty tannins sweeten on the
Next Article: Beaujolais Nouveau 2009 Has Arrived!