Several years ago, Chilean wine was the go-to wine for people headed to parties, or for those who want a casual sip. It was the first thing that people would grab in a store; almost voluntarily, even, but without any special reason whatsoever. It just so happened that these wines were extremely affordable and tasted… well, decent enough. That’s it. Nothing extraordinary.
However, those are bygone times. Today, Chilean wines have become unique, fascinating, and flavorful. More than that, they aren’t just average anymore — after all, Chilean winemakers now place great emphasis on quality.
If these aren’t enough, these spectacular wines also won’t hurt your wallet! So if you fancy a drink that will really give you the value of your money (and more!), then this new wave of Chilean wines might just be what you’re seeking. Read on to learn more about these wines!
Wine Regions in Chile
A single glance at a map reveals how interesting the geography of Chile is. Traversing the whole breadth of the north to south will take you quite a while, perhaps a week, while exploring east to west can be done in half a day.
Despite how narrow the country is, it’s teeming with several wine regions. Chile is divided into four primary wineries — Coquimbo, Aconcagua Region, Central Valley, and Southern regions. These are further subdivided into various sections. Listed above are some of the most prominent wine-producing areas in Chile.
- Casablanca Valley
This is a usual spot that tourists visit, whether they want to have some wine or they’re headed to the coast.
The wineries here are virtually everywhere, ranging from tiny facilities with just a few hectares at their disposal, to massive plantations replete with quaint manor houses and sophisticated tasting areas. For a richer experience, some wineries even partner the drinks with meals from well-known chefs.
- Maipo Valley
Maipo Valley is considered the second-oldest wine-producing region in Chile. It also has tons of wineries that exhibit a heavy French influence.
This valley also contains some of the most renowned names in wine-making, such as Concha y Toro and Santa Rita, both of which have extravagant plantations. However, there are also smaller vineyards in the area.
- San Antonio and Leyda Valleys
The growers in this area capitalize on the chilly ocean breeze, which allows them to cultivate cool weather grapes like Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah.
- Aconcagua Valley
This valley derives its names from the highest peak in the continent. Aconcagua is also a star when it comes to Chilean wines, and is, in fact, one of the largest vineyards in the country. Most of the wines hailing from this valley are characterized by their rich and full-bodied taste.
- Cachapoal and Colchagua
These two were previously known as the Rapel Valley. They are highly famous for their Cabernet Sauvignon.
- Elqui Valley
This valley is prized for its clear skies and Pisco grapes. It also boasts its cool climate Syrah.
- Curicó Valley
Curicó Valley has a lush and long history of winemaking. Their wines, in fact, are being cultivated in the area for more than 150 years.
- Maule Valley
This valley is one of the largest and most varied regions in Chile. They yield flavorful and fruity red grapes, such as Grenache, Uva País, and Carignan.
- Itata Valley
If you want to trace the beginnings of the Chilean winemaking history, then Itata Valley is the place you’re looking for. From as early as the 16th century, the presence of grapes has already been chronicled.
Most Famous Chilean Wines
Chile grows myriads of grape varieties. Listed above are some of them.
- Sauvignon Blanc
The finest Chilean Sauvignon Blanc comes from the coastal area of Casablanca and Leyda Valleys. These places are inundated by cold drafts of ocean wind, which allows the grapes to taste fresh as they ripen.
Chardonnay is marked by its tartness. The cooler climates in Chile let the grapes preserve this acidity and avoid over-ripeness.
- Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon is fairly abundant in Central Valley and Santiago (which comprises of other valleys, such as Maipo, Rapel, Curicó, and Maule). The consistent sunshine in Maipo aids in producing intense wines.
Chile yields the best Carmenère. These grapes are often paired with herbs and vegetables, which complement their “green” and leafy flavors.
Chile fully captures what Syrah is famous for, which is its peppery and bacony taste.
Carignan grapes started to be grown after a destructive earthquake shattered the country in 1939. This left the growers with barely anything to plant. These grapes flourish in arid and hot climates, akin to what Southern France or Spain are experiencing. Lastly, these wines have a high tannic content.
- Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir grapes are marked by their distinct aroma and refreshing acidity.
The New Face of Chilean Wines
Chilean wines have changed tremendously through the years. Now, you can enjoy Chilean wines of the finest quality – at a reasonable price! If you want to have a sampling of these wines, check out our selection above.