Wines of Chile 101

Taking a look at the where, what, whys and whens of Chile


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Red Grapes
Perhaps not surprisingly Chile has relied on the classic Bordeaux varieties for much of their red wine production. Early success with these varieties and the undeniable fact that they are well adapted to the valley’s surrounding Santiago, the economic center of the country, have both contributed to a long string of successful wines. Offering a powerful blend of new world fruit and old world tannins and savoriness they are easy wines to like.
 
With time we have learned that some of that savoriness comes courtesy of Carmenere. Today Cabernet is still king, accounting for more than half of the vineyards planted to red varieties in Chile, with Merlot a distant second at 15%, Carmenere closing fast at 13%, and Syrah in 4th place with about 9%. Old vine Mission, known locally as Pais, and Carignane  are attracting renewed interest as fine wines but producers large and small who are looking to expand Chile’s reputation in the world but they account for a tiny percentage of acreage under vine.
 

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  • Snooth User: Zuiko
    Hand of Snooth
    540750 756

    "In the north of the country vineyards in the ocean cooled Limari Valley are proving particularly well suited to Chardonnay..."

    Indeed! The Concha Y Toro, Casillero del Diablo Chardonnays of recent vintages (2010, 11 & 12) were all from Limari and were successful. They are a big, rich, sappy style but with the necessary acid to carry them. Older vintages were from Casablanca Valley.

    Oct 28, 2013 at 6:37 PM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 204,541

    Nice observation. Thanks for that!

    Oct 28, 2013 at 7:44 PM


  • Snooth User: sometime66
    1347805 9

    Concha y Toro 'Marques de Casa Concha' Cabernet Sauvignon, Puente Alto $20
    Santa Rita Medalla Real Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley $18
    Cousino Macul Antiguas Reservas Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley $15
    Santa Carolina Reserva de Familia Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley $15

    are all cabs from the same area and particularly the Concha y Toro 'Marques de Casa Concha' Cabernet Sauvignon, Concha y Toro 'Marques de Casa Concha' Cabernet Sauvignon, Puente Alto $20 from the same vineyard as the highly overpriced "Don Melchoir", just not from a barrel picked to be bottled as "Don Melchoir". Same vineyard, same picking, same vinafication. All of the above mentioned wines are excellent buys. As is any wine from the Santa Digna (owned by Miguel Torres, Spain) label. If you're into late harvest wines look for the Santa Digna Late Harvest Reisling. Mind boggling, save $100+ over a German or French Late Harvest...Enjoy.

    Oct 29, 2013 at 8:59 PM


  • Yesterday I was at a tasting with the Chilean Icons, organized by Patricio Tapia + Wines of Chile (Sao Paulo, Brazil): Don Maximiano 2010 and 2000, Don Melchior 2010 + 1996; Casa Real 2010 + 2002; Altair 2010 + 2002;Lapostolle 2010 + 2002; Montes Folly Syrah 2010 + 2000. The older wines were great, but Follies Syrah 2000 (2010 was much better, because 2000 was a young vine). Casa Real 1996 is ready, to drink this year. Last week I spent few days in Santiago visiting Cousino Maculsituated at Maipo (by the way, Antiguas Reservas Cab is a best buy, and if you have a chance, try Antiguas Reserva Syrah) Maipo is a great terroir for cabs. San Antonio great for Sauvignon Blanc as in Casa Marin.

    Oct 30, 2013 at 8:59 AM


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