Although winemaking in Chile dates back to the 1550s with the arrival of Spanish conquistadors, Chilean wine has exploded in the last 20 years. In 1995, Chile had 15 wineries. Today, Chile is the fifth largest exporter of wine in the world, and the ninth largest producer.
Chile has very unique and diverse natural barriers, with the Atacama Desert to the north, the Andes Mountains to the east, the Patagonian ice fields to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west. These barriers and a Mediterranean climate make Chile ideal for wine growing and naturally free of pests. Although Chile is long and narrow from north to south, it actually has a much greater diversity in soils from east to west, thanks to the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountains.
The three most common grapes found in wines of Chile are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Carmenere. The Chilean wine industry is very well-organized and has launched sustainability initiatives to create more environmentally-friendly processes and preserve its valuable natural resources. Here are five of our favorite wines of Chile.
Santa Ema Reserve Merlot Maipo Valley
Deep violet-ruby-red, this Merlot is a very fruity wine with aromas of plums, blackberries and black currant accompanied by intense notes of caramel, chocolate, and vanilla. It has soft, ripe tannins that lend good structure and balance on the palate with a fruity and persistent finish.
Manta Sauvignon Blanc Maule Valley Chile
La Manta is the traditional garb of the migrant workers of Chile, and this wine is named as a tribute and the fruit of their labor. This wine is intense and very aromatic, combining zesty citrus fruits found in many of the New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs and the herbaceous characteristics found in French wines. Manta Sauvignon Blanc Maule Valley is zippy on the palate, with hints of lemon zest, kiwi and grapefruit.
Vina Quintay Tololo Cabernet Sauvignon Cachapoal Valley
This wine is from Quintay in the valleys of Casablanca and Leyda, regarded as Chile's quintessential cool climate regions. It offers an elegant mixture of boysenberry, blackberry and cherry fruit notes, mid-palate of noble tannins leading into a slightly peppered finish and straightforward feel and length.
Los Vascos Cabernet Sauvignon Colchagua
The vintages of Los Vascos all share a mature and fruity quality, fresh aromas, and a supple and fleshy structure. This wine has a sparkling, ruby red color and a pleasantly fruity nose with aromas of black cherries, raspberries and plums, all with a hint of spice. This is a silky, flavorful wine, with a supple tannin structure.
Papi Sauvignon Blanc Demi Sec Chile
This is a refreshingly crisp white wine from the Maule Valley region that offers citrus and tropical fruit flavors, as well as very aromatic notes of green chilies, grass, herbs, asparagus and gooseberries commonly contributing to the bouquet.