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Chilean Wine

Chile is one of South America's most important wine-producing countries. Occupying a thin strip down the western coast of the continent, it is home to a wide range of terroirs, leading some commentators to describe the country as a "winegrower's paradise". An equally wide range of wine styles are made here as a result, from the crisp, grassy Sauvignon Blanc of the Casablanca and Elqui valleys to the elegant, age-worthy Bordeaux Blends made in both Maipo Valley and Colchagua.

Chile spans 2700 miles (4300km) of land running north-south between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountains. The topography is very favorable to viticulture, and despite the fact that Chile is only 100 miles (160km) wide, most climatic variation in the wine-growing regions happens from east to west, rather than from north to south. The Pacific, with its Antarctic Humboldt Current, brings cooling breezes to coastal vineyards, while the sheltering presence of the Coastal mountain range makes Chile's Central Valley relatively warm and dry. Along the eastern edge of the country, in the foothills of the Andes, high altitudes and abundant meltwater rivers make for a different terroir again.

Vines and valleys in Chile
Jonathan Reeve

Chile has been a wine-producing country since the first European settlers arrived in the mid-16th century. The original vines, to make sacramental wine, were brought by Catholic missionaries directly from Spain or via Peru or California. The Mission grape variety – known here as Pais – was widely planted during this time.

It wasn't until the 19th Century that viticulture began to expand in Chile, mainly due to the spread of wealth associated with mining in the Atacama Desert. European trends started to infiltrate Santiago, and a wine-growing industry sprang up in the south of the city, around the Maipo Valley. Wine estates were built, with the styles of both wine and architecture heavily modeled on those of France. The estate vineyards of Concha y Toro, Cousino Macul and Santa Rita were established in this time.

Throughout the 20th Century, Chilean wine was limited to a domestic market, but a push toward quality in the latter half of the century saw an uptake in the international market. Whereas Chilean winemakers had traditionally used tanks and barrels made of beech wood, in the 1980s stainless-steel tanks and oak barrels were introduced, marking the start of a technology-driven era.

The Chilean viticultural industry is often associated with consistent, good-value wines, but some world-class reds are also made, commanding high prices. Traditionally, this mantle has been filled by the Bordeaux varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, but Pinot Noir from the cooler parts of Chile is beginning to make an impression.

Like many New World countries, Chile has adopted a signature grape variety, Carmenere, once widely grown in Bordeaux. It was thought to be extinct following the European phylloxera outbreaks of the 19th century, but was rediscovered in Chile in the 1990s. With the Pacific Ocean on one side and the forbidding barrier of the Andes on the other, Chile's vineyards have remained protected from phylloxera, allowing Carmenere to flourish.

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Here are some wines produced in this region and all sub-regions, only the first 500 will be shown.
Wine Name
Grape 
Popularity
Vina Almaviva, Puente Alto, Chile Bordeaux Blend Red $133 108
Concha y Toro Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon, Puente Alto, Chile Cabernet Sauvignon $83 175
Casa Lapostolle Clos Apalta, Colchagua Valley, Chile Bordeaux Blend Red $82 337
Sena, Aconcagua Valley, Chile Bordeaux Blend Red $100 357
Montes Purple Angel Carmenere, Colchagua Valley, Chile Carmenere $56 498
Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon, Apalta, Chile Cabernet Sauvignon $20 752
Domaines Barons de Rothschild Lafite Los Vascos Cabernet Sauvignon, Colchagua Valley, Chile Cabernet Sauvignon $10 768
Montes Alpha M, Apalta, Chile Bordeaux Blend Red $75 842
Errazuriz Don Maximiano Founders Reserve, Aconcagua Valley, Chile Bordeaux Blend Red $71 947
Domaines Barons de Rothschild Lafite Le Dix de Los Vascos, Colchagua Valley, Chile Cabernet Sauvignon $54 1328
Baron Philippe de Rothschild Escudo Rojo, Maipo Valley, Chile Rare Red Blend $15 1331
Montes Folly Syrah, Apalta, Chile Syrah $73 1351
Concha y Toro 'Marques de Casa Concha' Cabernet Sauvignon, Puente Alto, Chile Cabernet Sauvignon $20 1354
MontGras Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon, Colchagua Valley, Chile Cabernet Sauvignon $11 1387
Montes Classic Series Cabernet Sauvignon, Colchagua Valley, Chile Cabernet Sauvignon $10 1760
Errazuriz Vinedo Chadwick, Maipo Valley, Chile Bordeaux Blend Red $188 1775
Concha y Toro Terrunyo Carmenere Block 27 Peumo Vineyard, Cachapoal Valley, Chile Carmenere $35 1822
Altair Tinto, Cachapoal Valley, Chile Rare Red Blend $66 1834
Cousino Macul Antiguas Reservas Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley, Chile Cabernet Sauvignon $15 1862
Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon, Central Valley, Chile Cabernet Sauvignon $10 1863
Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Reserva Carmenere, Rapel Valley, Chile Carmenere $8 1877
Veramonte Primus The Blend, Colchagua Valley, Chile Rare Red Blend $18 1896
Valdivieso Caballo Loco, Chile N/A $58 1942
Vina Quebrada de Macul Domus Aurea Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley, Chile Cabernet Sauvignon $51 2117
Santa Rita Medalla Real Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley, Chile Cabernet Sauvignon $17 2136
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