Chile in many ways is a winegrower’s dream – consistent climate, consistent growing conditions and perfect positioning with protection from both the Andes and the ocean. The only real problem for Chile, which in turn is great news for us, is that they entered the global market at a rather lower price point.
- Casablanca: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir
- Limari: Chardonnay
- Central Valley: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Carmenére
- Maipo: Cabernet Sauvignon
- Colchagua: Cabernet Sauvignon
- Aconcagua: Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Carmenére
The bulk of historical Chilean wine production retailed in the UK for £5-7 and when you start low it’s hard to push up! The result today is that the wine we import from Chile tends to be of a very high quality level and at a very affordable price point. It also means when you stray above the £10-15 mark, you are getting some serious quality that would cost lots more if it was from elsewhere.
Although winemaking has taken place in Chile for hundreds of years, it is really only in the very recent past that the Chileans have made a real impact on the global industry. In the 1970s, winemaking pioneer Miguel Torres was the driving force behind Chile’s wine industry and made it his mission to show the world what this very thin strip of land had to offer. In reality, it wasn’t until the 1990s when Chile returned to democracy, that the industry started to boom. Heavy investment was made into vineyard activities, winery equipment and arguably most importantly into people with passion and expertise in the field.
In the vineyard
Chile’s growing area is fascinating in size; although it stretches 900km from north to south, it is
only 100km east to west at its widest point. The area enjoys a climate that is warm Mediterranean with grape moderating influences from the cool air that blows in from the Pacific Ocean to the west and the cool air that drifts down from the Andes in the east.
A huge diversity of soil types gives winemakers a wonderful freedom to experiment with many grape varieties. One of the amazing things about Chile is that to this day there is no sign of Phylloxera, which was the reason Europe had to replant its vineyards in the 19th Century once this nasty little bug got hold. Hopefully Chile can keep this critter at bay.
Selected Chilean White Wines
Selected Chilean Red Wines
Hennings Wine says
We have really stepped up our Chilean range over the past few years. At the lower end the Karu range is hard to beat for under £10. Moving up the scale, we have some truly interesting wines from the Montes, Vik and Tabali estates. All three use different holistic approaches with their winemaking and are well worth looking into.