Today it is those ancient clones of Cabernet, Merlot and Merlot that produce some of the greatest wines in Chile. Yes, I wrote Merlot twice because Chile’s greatest wine, Carmenere, had been mistaken for Merlot when the original vines were imported and was only discovered to be something other than so-called early Merlot in 1994. And while we’re at it early Merlot is an odd designation for a grape that may ripen early than Merlot but never achieves the richness and lushness of fruit that Merlot does.
Chile is successful in the marketplace with some powerful Cabernet based wines, but their more recent successes are being built on more elegant wines. Bright and easy to drink and pair with food, Chilean Sauvignon Blanc and Carmenere are appealing to a new generation of drinkers who look for something other than yet another Cabernet Sauvignon.