One of the most well-known wine producing regions in Chile, Maipo Valley is home to the countries most renowned red wines. Best known for growing Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Carmenere, it has often been referred to as the Bordeaux of South America.
Located in the south western half of the Rapel Valley, some of Chile’s highest quality red wines are made here, mostly from Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere. The climate in Colchagua is warm, but cooled by the ocean breezes. With very little rainfall in this region, the Tinguiririca River is an important piece, as it brings water from the meltwater down from the Andes mountains to the valleys and vineyards below.
Nestled between Maipo and Colchagua, Cachapoal Valley is a making a name for itself in the wine world. This region is sheltered from the cooling effects of the Pacific Ocean and enjoys a long warm growing season essential for the grapes to ripen. Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon are the stars in the region.
The Aconcagua Valley is named after the mountain at its edge. Mt. Aconcagua is the highest mountain in South America and is very influential to the growing conditions in the vineyards in the valley. Wines from Aconcagua are generally composed of red blends with Cabernet Sauvignon. Along the coast, where it’s colder, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir varieties are thriving.
Casablanca’s first vineyards were planted in the 1980s, making it one of Chile’s newest wine regions. Located north-west of Santiago and strongly influenced by the cooling effects of the ocean, it is best known for crisp white wines made from Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and bright red wines from Pinot Noir.
Maule is Chile’s oldest wine region and one of its largest with 30,000 hectares of land occupied by vines. Located in the Central Valley, Maule is further south than Maipo and slightly cooler. It has long been known as a bulk wine producing area, but recently, it has become a region to watch for quality wines from Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere.
In the 1990s, it was discovered that the Merlot in most of the vineyards was Carmenere, a grape that had been presumed extinct in France many years prior. Carmenere tends to have flavours of raspberry, black plums and bell peppers and peppercorn. Maipo, Colchagua and Cachapoal produce Carmenere that is a bit richer and with hints of chocolate on the palate.
Food pairing: Try it with roasted or grilled meats like beef, lamb, and pork and tomato sauce dishes. The characters of the wine will match with spices in Indian food, and with aged cheeses and Spanish chorizo.
Chile is known for full bodied red wines influenced by their warmer climate. Cabernet Sauvignon from Maipo tend to be bold and complex with notes of strawberry jam, black cherries, baking spices and eucalyptus.
Food pairing: Try it with barbeque; steaks, ribs, venison, or lamb. It makes a great pairing with charcuterie with a variety of cheeses like Gorgonzola, aged Gouda, Brie and Parmesan.
Sauvignon Blanc vines can be found across Chile’s wine regions. The wines they create are aromatic with characteristics of green apple, citrus fruits, and pears. Herbaceous notes and minerality are sometimes present in this crisp and vibrant wine style.
Food pairing: Try it with light dishes like summer salads, lemon garlic marinated seafood, grilled fish, or chicken. It pairs well Herb and Garlic Boursin, goat cheese and Brie.
Viognier is a white grape that does well in heat so, it’s no surprise that it has become one to watch for in Chile. Typically, a yellow colour with aromas of peach, floral, mango and spice. It has a medium body which makes it very versatile with food pairings.
Food pairing: Try it with a cream sauce dish with seafood or chicken, or with spicy food like Pad Thai and mild curries. Soft creamy cheeses like Brie and Camembert also pair very well with Viognier.
Did you know?
In 2021, Chile was the 6th largest wine producing country in the world.
Home to some of the world’s oldest vines not affected by phylloxera.
A drought is affecting areas in the north, limiting the amount of hectares that can planted.