The Wines of Chile
by Liana Bennett
The Wine Region of Every Day Wine
Although Chile has been making wine for centuries, it wasn’t until the late 1980s that the United States had a taste. And boy we sure did and continue to love Chilean wines. Not only are they of great quality but the price is right. This region has become the every-day wine drinkers region. The wines produced in this pencil-thin South American country have been of known variety, good flavor and user-friendly labeling for under $10.
The Chilean wine industry, and those of us who drink these wines, must give thanks to some major foreign producers like Spain’s Miguel Torres, France’s Baron de Rothschild and Chateau Lafite, and California’s Robert Mondavi. They added, along with capital, modern winemaking expertise and worldwide market knowledge to a prime grape-growing area. The result has been success.
Chile has the ideal climate that is temperate with warm sunny summers that are balanced by cooling influences from the Pacific Ocean. The soils are fertile and ripe in the valleys between the Andes Mountains and the Ocean. This geography has also provided Chile with a natural shield from phylloxera and other vineyard damaging diseases.
Those That Grow Well Within
The varieties that flourish include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Carmenère, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Semillón, Gewürztraminer and Chenin Blanc.
The country is divided in to four main regions and within those, subregions. Atacama contains the Copiapó Valley and the Huasco Valley; Coquimbo consists of Elqui Valley, Limarí Valley, and the Choapa Valley; Aconcagua houses the Valley of Aconcagua and the Valley of Casablanca; the Region of the South has Itata Valley and Bío-Bío Valley. It is the Region of the Central Valley is that produces the majority of the wines and is composed of the Maipo Valley, the Rapel Valley, the Curicó Valley and the Maule Valley.
Although the Cabs and Chards from Maipo stand out, be on the look out for the up and coming region of Bio Bio Valley and its Rieslings and Pinot Noirs.
Makers of the Wine
These are some of the top Chilean producers:
Concha y Toro (including Walnut Crest)
Luis Felipe Edwards
Vina Tarapaca (imported by CA’s Beringer Estates)
From: The Beverage Alcohol Report - January 2006, Liana Bennett
The Beverage Alcohol Report (The BAR) was published on a monthly basis until May, 2006 compliments of Liana Bennett. Its main purpose was to further the knowledge, appreciation and general enjoyment of all alcoholic beverages. Your comments, questions and tasting stories can be sent to [email protected]