While Chile may not be as famous as some other “wine countries,” it’s producing quite an array of palate-pleasing wines.
From crisp, clean, fruit-forward Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling, to big, palate-coating Malbec wines that are almost “inky” in hue, Chile’s winemakers are clearly focused on quality.
Here’s a quick primer on the wonders of Chilean wines — just enough information to make you dangerous at your next wine party…
- The vineyards of Chile are protected by natural “barriers” that moderate the climate and make growing exceptional grapes possible — Patagonia to the south, the Atacama Desert to the north, the Andes Mountains to the east, and the Pacific Ocean to the west.
- Chile is the only major wine-producing country that has never suffered the plague of phylloxera, the root louse that has decimated vineyards around the world at various times. Those natural barriers are the reason.
- While the popularity of Chilean wines has exploded over the past three decades, grape growing and winemaking in the country dates back to the 16th century. European immigrants brought French varieties with them during the 19th century.
- So many grape varieties thrive in Chile because of the number of microclimates within the country’s borders. Why so many? Keep in mind that Chile’s coastline stretches nearly 2,600 miles — more than the frequent flier miles you’d earn on a flight from Los Angeles to New York.
- Because of the dry climate and the fact that many vineyards and wineries in the country are relatively new, Chile has become a hub of organic and sustainable winegrowing. It’s easier to do things right from the beginning than to correct long-established traditions and procedures.
- There has been a great deal of international investment in the Chilean wine industry. That’s a pretty good indicator that the country has become a quality hub.
I could go on and on. But the best way to understand how good Chilean wines are is to taste them. Open a few bottles and let your taste buds be the judge.