In recent years, the country of Chile has made strong and successful efforts at putting its wines front and center not only in the U.S. but around the world. Many may think Chileans are new to this industry but they have been producing wine for more than 450 years. In fact, Chile is the world’s eighth largest wine producer and the fifth largest exporter.
Back in November, I had a chance to visit the country and a couple of its wine regions to have a taste for myself. Although I am no stranger to the wines, it was wonderful to see up close and personal how different or similar Chilean winemakers’ approach may be compared to others such as Americans, Italians or the French.
Chilean Wineries Take the Stage
From North to South, Chile’s appellation system (Denomination of Origin or D.O.) is divided into four regions that total 13 different wine producing valleys. Various climate conditions up and down the country set the stage for red and white varietals. Chile's signature grape is the carmenere which is the deepest and darkest red grape of them all that requires a long growing season to reach its full potential. Other reds produced include cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah, malbec, pinot noir, and cabernet franc. Whites primarily produced throughout the region include sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, riesling and viognier. Overall, the country produces over 20 different varietals that are mainly a mixture of Spanish and French.
There are far too many wineries to list out with one of the most popular ones that you may recognize on the shelves being Casillero del Diablo. Earlier this year, we featured our review of the brand's latest additions, a white and red, which are part of the Devil’s Collection that we enjoyed and highly recommend.
Whether you are going to Chile for business or pleasure, but sure to connect with wine partners Enotour, Wine Travel Chile or Santiago Adventures for fully guided wine country tours. Take the guessing out of where to start and let the experts show you why Chilean wines are taking wine enthusiasts by storm.
Two memorable wineries from my trip include Loma Larga Vineyards and Tamaya. Loma Larga is a family-owned winery in Casablanca Valley. Familiar with producing wines in cool climates, Loma Larga is known for its cabernet franc, malbec, pinot noir and quinteto for reds and chardonnay and sauvignon blanc for whites. The wines are well-balanced, especially when it comes to the acidity level, earning a variety of awards include Best Chilean Red.
Tamaya is located in Limari Valley which takes pride in being pollution and frost-free and an area where the temperatures change from day and night allowing the best characteristics of the wines to be produced. Their wines are complex with a careful balance of aromas and flavors with a long finish. During our visit, we were also treated to one of their latest projects, juice made from the varietals. Great for those wanting non-alcoholic alternatives. Sit back and relax as you enjoy a jar of malbec, muscatel, syrah and sauvignon. The pressed pure grape juice has not made its way over to the U.S. yet but hopefully will in the near future.
With wine tourism at its peak, the next time you feel like exploring, be sure to make South America, specifically Chile one of your wine exploration destinations. For more about the wines of Chile, visit www.winesofchile.org.