What do you know about Chilean Wine?
Before I attended a recent masterclass, I associated this South American country primarily with the words ‘red’ and ‘new world’. But after a fascinating masterclass with Master of Wine, Patrick Schmitt, aka editor of the magazine The Drinks Business I have a greater awareness of Chilean viticulture. The class was aimed at the hospitality trade but Bite picked some basic information and tips which we can share.
Many of the characteristics of Chilean wines are determined by geography. In the North of the country is desert, in the South Patagonia, to the East is the Andes range and to the West the Pacific. The cold water ocean Humboldt Current also exerts an influence. Generally the cool conditions result in wines that have ripe fruit balanced by high acidity and structure.
Two other factors to be considered alongside climate, are the presence of heritage vines and the range of varietals grown.
Think Semillón, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling.
2022 Echeverria Sauvignon Blanc Reserva, Curico
I am not usually a SB person but this one impresses; it has a pronounced perfume and peachy taste with a touch of grapefruit/citrus.
2017/18 Carmen D.O. Quijada Semillón, Apalta-Colchagua
My tasting pal and photographer,Simone, points out that this wine would complement smoked salmon. I can see it and Chilean semillóns are well worth seeking out.
Think Carménère, Pais, Pinot Noir, Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot.
2020 Casa Silva Cesar Noir Romano, Colchagua
A highlight. Patrick describes the grape as a ‘relic’ originating from old French vines with no original rootstock and only 100 hectares devoted to growing. It is full of juicy red fruits but is also savoury and has plenty of tannins.
2019/20 Santa Rita Pewen, Carménère, Apalta-Colchagua
100% Varietal bursting with red fruits but with a taut structure.
Apart from the Carménère none of these wines are pricey and Patrick also gave a shout out for the Bicicleta Pinot Noir, from the Cono Sur winery, which is cheap and stocked in many of the supermarkets.
If your wine buying has got a little bit predictable perhaps it’s time to choose Chilean.