In many ways, the Chilean wine industry is similar to that of California: Both rely largely on Bordeaux varieties for red wines and chardonnay for whites; both have hot interiors and foggy coastal areas; and both have long experience is producing both affordable everyday wines and more complex, longer-lived “serious” ones.
Here is a selection from two primary producers: premium Alcance wines from a producer owned by California-based Jackson Family Wines and the Casillero del Diablo and Ribera lines of less expensive wines from the venerable Concha y Toro wineries.
Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Chardonnay 2015 ($9). Full and round with lots of apples, some citrus notes, and a crisp finish.
Concha y Toro Ribera del Rapel Colchagua Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2015 ($17). Very weedy aromas and flavors — intense green — with medium body and good acidity.
Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Carmenère Reserva 2014 ($9). Tart fruitiness with some vanilla notes.
Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Malbec 2014 ($9). Crisp and lean but with lots of cherry fruit in the finisè.
Concha y Toro Ribera del Tinguiririca Marchigue Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($17). Big, harmonious, rich, and juicy, with an almost sweet fruitiness, but also assertive, with good acidity.
Concha y Toro Ribera del Cachapoal Peumo Carmenère 2014 ($17). Modest red fruits, with some spice, green olive, and cherry-stem notes — quite nice for this style of wine.
Alcance Valle de Maule Merlot Gran Reserva 2014 ($20). Somewhat plump, with red raspberry flavors, a little cream, and a savory finish.
Alcance Valle de Maule Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2014 ($24). Ripe and juicy, but still some old-style green savory notes plus good tannins and nice finishing acidity.
Alcance Vigno Valle de Maule Old Vines Carignan 2013 ($34). Very fresh with lots of spicy red fruits, some hints of oak, and a good finish — a red-berry wine.
Alcance “Bravura” Valle de Maipo Proprietary Red Wine 2013 ($50). A concentrated Bordeaux blend with enjoyable dark chocolate and cherry flavors and a hint of vanilla oak in the finish.