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  • Writer's pictureSharon Wilson

Wines of Chile What do you know about Chilean Wine?

Carmenére Harvest - Matt Wilson_

Before participating in a masterclass, my perception of this South American nation was largely limited to the descriptors "red" and "new world." However, after an education from Master of Wine, Patrick Schmitt, editor of The Drinks Business magazine, I gained a deeper understanding of Chilean wine production. While the class was intended for the hospitality industry, Bite managed to glean some fundamental insights and tips that we can pass along.

Geography and Characteristics of Chilean Wines

Many of the characteristics of Chilean wines are determined by geography.

In the North of the country is the desert, in the South Patagonia, to the East is the Andes range, and to the West is the Pacific. The cold water ocean Humboldt Current also exerts an influence. Generally, the cool conditions result in wines of 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.

White Wines

Think Semillón, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling.

  • 2022 Echeverria Sauvignon Blanc Reserva, Curico - I am not usually a Sauvignon Blanc 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 partner and photographer, Simone, points out that this wine would complement smoked salmon. I can see it, and Chilean Semillóns are well worth seeking out.

The Cabernet Catch - Matt Wilson

Red Wines

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' from old French vines with no original rootstock and only 100 hectares devoted to growing. It is full of juicy red fruits and savoury with 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 supermarkets.

If your wine buying has gotten a little bit predictable, perhaps it's time to choose Chilean.

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