My first taste of Chilean wine goes back around 10 years when I was in my early 20s. Gato Negro was the gateway – a reliable, budget-friendly choice with that cute cat on the label, packed in a 1.5L bottle. Simple but effective!
During my phase of embracing affordable Sauvignon Blanc, Veramonte, a Chilean wine, stood out. But as my palate and budget expanded, I found myself leaning towards red Bordeaux-style wines produced in Chile, made with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
As my wine journey continued, I stumbled upon the interesting history of Carménère's journey from Bordeaux. It turns out, for more than a century, people mistakenly identified it as Merlot.
Thinking about Chilean wine around 2012, I remember observing many Concha y Toro brands lining the shelves in big-box stores, with Montes Purple Angel being a staple on steakhouse wine lists. It appears that hasn't changed. At the wine bar where I worked, we aimed to offer things people hadn't tried before. I used to enthusiastically sell Carménère to guests looking for a reasonably priced, medium to full-bodied red. I would describe it as peppery, savory, with dark fruit. Those buzzwords usually captured them. The producers we had were Koyle Royale and El Grano Carménère. It was about $10 for a glass, and the majority of those to whom I offered it loved it.
What I realized is that many casual wine drinkers and wine lovers tend to stop exploring Chilean wine right there. When I gained more responsibility at the wine bar, I was able to attend trade tastings/sales meetings, and the opportunity to explore more styles of Chilean wine grew. At this point, my personal preferences leaned more toward the less tannic side. I realized I preferred cooler climate wines with more acidity, especially those I had tasted from Bio Bio & Itata.
Recently, there were some horrible fires in Bio Bio & Itata. Here is a link to some more information and resources to help:
Bio Bio and Itata fires 2023: Information and how to help
I have enjoyed many wines from Chile made by smaller producers. Many of those producers practice organic farming and embrace lower intervention styles. Some are also planting or reviving native grapes and styles. What I also like is that there was a plethora of quality wines available in my ideal price point of $20-$50, and many that… (yes, I'm going to use the cringe-worthy wine sales phrase) OVER DELIVER AND PUNCH ABOVE THEIR PRICE POINT! Wines I can buy during the week when I just want to watch some Netflix and Chile.
Here are 10 wine producers in Chile I like. Keep exploring!
There is currently a gofundme “Help us replant our vineyard Flora after bush fire”
Hope you enjoyed the list! Who are some of your favorite producers in Chile?
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