Wines of Chile 101
Taking a look at the where, what, whys and whens of Chile
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.