Chile Wines Continue to Offer Quality, Value, and Diversity
Chile is one of the most exciting wine-growing countries in the world. The varied terrain, climates, topography, and other environmental influences ensure that there are a myriad of wide-ranging spots to grow grapes. That allows vintners to plant in just the right spots, as well as experiment with a range of climactic influences. There is quality and value to be found in Chilean wine regardless of price range. Whether you’re spending $15 or $115 on a wine from Chile, it’s often going to provide more bang for your buck than similarly priced wines from other regions of the world. With that in mind, I tasted through a large swath of Chilean wines looking for well-made selections that offered good value in a variety of styles and price ranges. Here are eight that I heartily recommend.
The fruit for this wine (100 percent sauvignon blanc) came entirely from the Leyda Valley. This wine saw no oak treatment. Grapefruit, lemon zest, and wisps of grass fill the nose. The even keeled palate is dominated by a bevy of citrus notes that are countered with bits of tropical fruit, white pepper, continued citrus, and a hint of crème fraîche present on the finish. This is an excellent example of sauvignon blanc for the money. As a grape, it serves as a microcosm of Chile’s diversity, as it’s grown and produced in a wide array of styles.
This offering is a blend of sauvignon blanc (85 percent), chardonnay (10 percent), and gewürztraminer (5 percent). All of the fruit came from the Casablanca Valley. Yellow melon and hints of ginger present on the nose. The palate is stuffed with a combination of citrus, largely grapefruit, and white peach flavors. Bits of pineapple emerge on the crispy finish along with bits of spice. This wine is loaded with fresh, appealing fruit flavors. Drink a couple of degrees warmer than whites are often served to enjoy its subtler charms.
The fruit for this wine came from the Rapel Valley. It’s composed of syrah (60 percent), cabernet sauvignon (25 percent), and carménère (15 percent). Plum and raspberry aromas explode from the nose. The palate is loaded with easy-going, appealing red and black fruit flavors. Minerals, dark chocolate, and hints of spice emerge on the mellifluous finish. This is a solid and well-priced everyday red, perfect for parties or BBQs.
Kalfu Kuda 2013 Chardonnay ($19)
This entirely varietal wine was made using estate fruit grown in the Leyda Valley. Fermentation took place in stainless steel. Classic orchard fruit aromas waft from the nose here. The palate shows off an avalanche of yellow delicious apple, anjou pear, pineapple, and white peach along with copious spices. The fruit continues through the finish along with minerals and lingering spices. Firm acid keeps things balanced. This mouthwatering chardonnay is simply hard to put down once you take a sip.
Kalfu Kuda 2013 Pinot Noir ($24)
Made entirely of pinot noir, this wine contains fruit grown on estate vineyards in the Leyda Valley. It was aged for 10 months in French oak. Wild strawberry rose petal and black pepper aromas appear on the nose. Sumptuous red fruits light up the impeccably proportionate palate. Sour blackberry, black tea, and spices are part of the above-average finish. This is an outstanding pinot noir in this price range. Cool climate pinot noir from Chile has been emerging the last few years; look for it to become a huge hit as wine lovers really become aware of the great values available.
Montes Alpha 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon ($25)
Colchagua Valley is the source for the fruit here. It is composed of cabernet sauvignon (90 percent) and merlot (10 percent). Black cherry aromas and wisps of savory herbs are in abundance on the nose here. Black and red fruit flavors of all stripes dominate the full-flavored palate along with cinnamon and clove. Espresso and earth are in abundance on the finish, as well as bits of sour black fruit. Medium tannins yield with some air. This wine has the structure and character to drink like a splurge, but the price to make it within reach for most wine lovers.
All of the fruit for this wine was sourced in Apalta Valley. In addition to carménère (95 percent), some cabernet sauvignon (5 percent) was blended in. Some of the vines date back to the 1940s. Savory herbs and purple fruits lead a potent and intoxicating nose. The substantial palate is deeply layered and studded with wave after wave of black fruit flavors; blackberry, raspberry, and plum characteristics play prominent roles. Earth, chicory, and chocolate sauce are all part of the prodigiously long finish. This is simply one of the best carménères on the market. Put another way, it’s awesome in a bottle
The offering is entirely cabernet sauvignon from the Maipo Valley. It was aged for 15 months in exclusively French oak. So dark is the color of this cabernet that the moment you pour it into your glass or a decanter it stares back a bit ominously. Huckleberry, black raspberry, blackberry, and more lead a dense palate that is stuffed with oodles of substantial dark fruit flavors and accompanying spices. Continuing dark fruit, lots of dark chocolate, and spices to spare are all part of the memorably long and persistent finish. This is an impeccable example of cabernet sauvignon that would easily sell for $150 if it were from a better known cabernet region.
These eight wines don’t even begin to scratch the surface of what Chile has to offer. This is one of the most dynamic wine growing countries in the world, with many distinct growing regions. Whether your budget for wine is $15 or $115, you’ll find something spectacular from Chile in every conceivable price range. If you aren’t drinking Chilean wine yet, it’s time to get on board.