We all know that varietal wines have been the sweethearts of the American consumer, but recent Symphony IRI studies show that these consumers are shifting their affections toward red blends. In fact, red blends were up by a whopping 25 percent last year compared to a total market growth of 6.2 percent.
Of course traditionally, blending grapes has always been the case. The famed wines from Bordeaux are the most obvious example. For wine consumers, the traditional “Bordeaux blend”- a combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec, and/or Carmenere – is more popular than ever and they’re produced all over the world. Chile is making consumers take note with their distinct versions. You can learn more about the unique opportunities Chilean wine regions are taking advantage of by downloading our handy educational PDF: Chilean Wine Regions.
Unlike their Old World counterparts, constrained as they are by rigid systems and traditions, New World winemakers are able to craft red blends targeted at today’s audience. They are generally fruitier, fuller and less acidic than more traditional Old World examples, making them approachable and easy to enjoy for a wide range of consumers.
Chile has gained momentum in the Bordeaux blend category over the past few years and continues to be one of the leading innovators in developing these red blends. One huge advantage that Chile has over its competitors is Carmenere!
While Carmenere has largely disappeared from Bordeaux and is rarely produced anywhere else the world, Chile has the highest concentration of plantings. It is commonly used in the high-end bottlings. Carmenere is noted to add complexity, color, smoothness and flavors of black fruits and spice to blends, distinct characteristics that add complexity and uniqueness to Chile’s wines. Our handy PDF guide: Chilean Wine Regions is filled with all the details regarding Carmenere, Chile’s wine regions and the advantages that allow Chile to produce truly world class red blends.
The year 2004 marked a key accomplishment for the Aconcagua Valley and Chile as a whole as Seña, the Bordeaux blend and icon wine produced by Vina Errázuriz, was awarded the top honor in an international blind tasting in Berlin. The tasting, comparable to the 1976 Judgment of Paris where California Cabernet won honors over Bordeaux, helped to cement Chile’s reputation as a world class producer of fine wines.
The momentum accelerated with production of red blends in the valleys Maipo, Maule, Aconcagua, Colchagua and more. A recent focus on terroir in Chile has determined the best areas to produce top wines from each varietal. The country is expected to continue to innovate and produce high-quality red blends in a way other countries simply cannot achieve.
Wines to try: Los Vascos Grande Reserve ($20), Le Dix by Los Vascos ($55), Maquis Lien ($25), Emilliana Coyam ($30), Primus “The Blend” ($20), Haras Character ($20), Almaviva ($100), Antiyal ($45), Triple C by Santa Rita ($60).