Wines from Chile
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Wines from Chile

Country Profiles

Chilean Vineyard, Clos Apalta

Overview and History

Vines were planted in Chile in the 16th century by Spanish conquistadors and missionaries; today, Chile is the seventh largest producer of wine in the world. And while large volumes of more moderate quality for domestic consumption once dominated, Chile today produces truly great wines, especially its Cabernet Sauvignon blends. Chile’s growing reputation for quality wine, resulted in an influx of prominent foreign wine makers, starting with Miguel Torres in the 1970s, and in the late 1980s and throughout the 90s, the likes of the Rothschilds of Lafite Rothschild (owners of Los Vascos), the Marnier Lapostolle family of Grand Marnier fame (Casa Lapostolle), and several others. This influx of foreign skill and investment has aided Chile in arriving at the global fine wine table, at which they have a firm seat today.

Key Grape Varieties

Cabernet Sauvignon is the most planted grape variety, accounting for over a third of vines planted. Third and fourth most planted are Merlot and Carmenere (with white grape variety Sauvignon Blanc in second place) – although worth noting is that Cabernet Sauvignon with around 42,000 hectares under vine covers over 4 times as much land as Merlot.

Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon is produced mainly as a varietal wine but also often blended with other Bordeaux varieties including, what has come to be known as the country’s signature grape variety, Carmenere. The Central Region, of Chile, is red wine country par excellence, and Aconcagua and much larger Maipo, with famous sub region Puente Alto, is where Cabernet Sauvignon really flourishes and continued research into the best climes and soil types, for Cabernet, is rife. The wines have a purity and energy to them which is unique to Chile, combined with a complexity, balance and concentration on a par with some of the finest in the world.

Key Regions and Sub Regions

The country is divided into a north, central and southern region, and those regions are then further defined from east to west as coastal, vineyards between the ocean and the mountains, and vineyards in the Andean foothills. And generally, the local climes of Chile’s wine regions tend to be best defined by their proximity to either mountains or ocean influence, rather than by latitude. And a current trend is seeking out and developing those cooler areas influenced by the cool Pacific in the west or by the elevation of the Andes in the east.

The Central Region is red wine country par excellence, which accounts for over 80% of the country’s wine production. This large ‘region’ is divided into several separate smaller regions and the most notable of these, for fine wines, are:


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