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Chilean Wines:

Outstanding Value and Outstanding Wine

Chilean Wines: Regions and Tasting Reviews

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 Valley

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

2008 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 varietal. ($10)

2008 Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc Reserva, Casablanca Valley
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
Suave 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 finish. ($15)

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