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    Chilean Red Wine (Best Varieties, Taste & Characteristics)

    Chilean Red Wine Guide

    Chile has been a hotbed for red wine and grape-growing since the 1500s when the Spanish Conquistadors arrived.

    The French brought a wide range of classic varieties including Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Carmenère and Sauvignon Blanc in the 1800s.

    In this article, we'll explore everything there is to know about Chilean red wine, its regionstaste and how Chilean red wine compares to other wines.

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    Chilean Red Wine - The Ultimate Guide (2023)

    Chilean Flag and Vinyard in Chile

    Chile’s Cabernet Sauvignon is said to be the closest rival to France’s.

    Chile has become a hotbed for winemaking due to the coolness the country receives from the Pacific Ocean.

    Experts say Chile has the perfect climate for winemaking.

    Chilean red wines have seen a big improvement in quality over recent years, yet they still represent fantastic value for money.

    What Do Chilean Red Wines Taste Like?

    Winemakers in Chile have explored a wide range of new territories for planting.

    This has helped Chilean red wine become more soughtafter and pioneering.

    You can now expect to see mineral-driven whites alongside riper, more opulent wines in the region.

    Chilean red wines tend to be intense, broad, rich and bold.

    The Chilean wine scene is noted for its diversity, with various kinds of grapes being planted in a host of climates and soils.

    Best Chilean Red Wines

    Chilean Red Wine Varieties

    Cabernet Sauvignon

    The vast majority of Chile's vineyards are located in the Central Valley Region.

    This is a large region that is home to several smaller valleys like Maipo, Colchagua and Maule Valley.

    Most of this area is wide and flat.

    The vast majority of Chilean wine is made here.

    Perhaps you’re seeking out age-worthy wine from Chile?

    If so, you can expect to see the fine wines of the country being made in the foothills, including the sub-regions of the Puento Alto.

    The Cabernet Sauvignon from this region is noted for its fruity flavour.

    It is also known for its tartness of acidity thanks to the cool ocean breezes which are pulled in by the Andes Mountains.

    Learn more about Cabernet Sauvignon here.

    Carmenère

    Grape cuttings from Bordeaux that arrived in Chile were thought to be merlot until the mid-1990s, when wine expert Jean Michel Bousiquot, realised the Chilean

    Merlot was actually the Bordeaux variety Carménère.

    These wines are savoury, juicy and medium-bodied.

    They also have a red bell pepper note.

    This grape is now almost extinct in Bordeaux, which means most of the Carmenere you might come across will be from Chile.

    Pinot Noir

    The cooling effect associated with the coastal valleys of Chile have made it a hot spot for wines like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

    The afternoon sun ripens the grapes, which means Pinot Noir from Chile tends to offer delicious raspberry, strawberry and plum flavours.

    Learn more about Pinot Noir here

    Shiraz

    Shiraz is also known as Syrah.

    Chile offers two types of Shiraz.

    These include the style found in Maipo, Colchagua, and the Central Valley Region, and the peppery option you’ll find in places of high altitude like Cachapoal and Elqui Valley.

    Learn more about Shiraz here

    Malbec

    Chilean Malbec tends to differ notably from the Argentian variant. 

    This kind of Malbec is much lighter and juicier.

    The wine offers notes of peony as well as violet.

    Learn more about Malbec here

    Cabernet Franc

    Although Cabernet Franc is often used as a blending grape, it can be made into a single-variety wine.

    These wines are known for their savoury, lean characteristics.

    Expect notes of black pepper, herbs, red pepper and juicy red fruit.

    País

    País is widely agreed to be one of the most underrated Chilean wines.

    It’s now possible to high-quality País wines in Chile.

    As long as the tannins are under control, you can expect to enjoy a tangy, sweet taste with hints of roses, plums and red cherries.

    Cariñena (Carignan)

    Today, many older Cariñena vines are being put aside to create delicious, fruity red wines that often have notes of cured meat and are ideal for lovers of dry white wine.

    A Quick Look at Chilean Red Wine Regions

    Wine Regions In Chile

    Chilean Red Wine from the North

    The north of Chile is home to three winemaking regions, which are:

    • Huasco & Copiapó
    • Elqui 
    • LImarí

    Huasco & Copiapó

    Huasco & Copiapó is one of the newest regions.

    This area is found in Atacama and is around 340 miles north of Santiago. The main varieties that are planted in this region include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.

    Elqui

    Elqui has been producing acclaimed wines for almost twenty years.

    The region is renowned for its:

    • Syrah
    • Sauvignon Blanc
    • Carmenère
    • Chardonnay
    • Pinot Noir
    • Riesling

    Limarí

    Limarí is the biggest northern region.

    Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Syrah are all planted here. Vines have been planted here for around 500 years.

    The region is famous for its mineral-rich soils, which give the wine many interesting characteristics.

    Chilean Red Wine from Central Chile 

    Wine Regions Central Chile

    Aconcagua Chile

    The Aconcagua Chile wine region is located just north of Santiago.

    This is a large area that’s noted for its Cabernet Sauvignon in particular.

    Aconcagua is heavily associated with red wine, but more and more popular white wines are being made here.

    Casablanca

    Casablanca was the first cool-climate region in Chile.

    Planting first began in the 1980s.

    As Casablanca is so close to the Pacific, the vineyards get the valuable opportunity to refresh during cool and foggy mornings.

    San Antonio / Leyda

    San Antonio / Leyda is a coastal region noted for its clay soils.

    Nearly half of its vineyards and planted with Sauvignon Blanc, although a great deal of Pinot Noir is also made here.

    Maipo Valley

    The Maipo Valley is particularly linked to red wine, although various styles are made here.

    The valley stretches across the width of the country and has a wide range of soils and microclimates.

    Rapel Valley

    The Rapel Valley (south of Santiago) has two main wine regions known as Cahcapoal and Colchagua.

    Most Brits will have heard of Colchagua, as it’s Chile’s largest wine region, with over 32,000 hectares of growing space.

    Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Malbec, Carmenère, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Franc are all planted here.

    Curicó Valley

    Curicó Valley is one of the oldest winemaking regions in Chile, offering more than 30 varieties of grape.

    The region has a wealth of soil types and microclimates, which explains why so many grapes are grown here.

    Maule is the most southerly of the central regions as well as the largest. Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Carignan are all made here, as are various other varieties.

    Chilean Wines from the South

    Red Wines from South Chile

    Winemakers in the South of Chile face big challenges with wind and rain.

    However, many exciting wines are being made here.

    Itata

    Itata is a fairly new chile wine region, whilst Bío Bío & Malleco has been associated with winemaking for some time.

    Austral

    There has been a great deal of hype around Austral recently despite it only being home to around 30 hectares of wine.

    Austral has become noted for its impressive and intense:

    • Pinot Noir
    • Sauvignon Blanc
    • Chardonnay
    • and Riesling

    Climate changes and temperature increases have caused a substantial number of winemakers to start planting in the south of Chile.

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    Before You Go...

    Chilean Vinyard

    We hope you enjoyed our article on Chilean red wines.

    Do you need to know about other popular wine types to add something extra to your next dinner party?

    Read our next article about popular red wines (and why) here...

    Popular Red Wine Types (Full Guide)

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    philip thompson Author: Philip Thompson
    Philip is the General Manager at Expert Wine Storage, and is very knowledgable about all things relating to wine and wine storage, including wine fridges. He is regularly featured in media outlets sharing his knowledge on wine. Connect on Linkedin