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Chile

A haven in the 1990s for those with an eye for everyday drinking at great value prices, Chile has kept this string to its bow whilst producing ever more quality wines with exciting potential. 

Cabernet Sauvignon remains at the heart of the industry, but Chile is proving to be an accommodating home for a suite of Old World varieties.

A haven in the 1990s for those with an eye for everyday drinking at great value prices, Chile has kept this string to its bow whilst producing ever more quality wines with exciting potential. 

Cabernet Sauvignon remains at the heart of the industry, but Chile is proving to be an accommodating home for a suite of Old... read more.

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It also has its very own grape, the Carmenère, which is all but extinct in its native Bordeaux.  The sky, it would seem, is the limit for the wines of Chile.

History

The Spanish may have imported the vine along with conquistadores, but it took the arrival of the French for wine to take off.  Their culture was much in vogue in the Chile of the 19th century and French winemakers were encouraged to impart their ideas.  This sowed the seeds of prosperity and, when the worldwide epidemic of phylloxera did not make it to Chile, everywhere was suddenly demanding its wine.  However, politics ensured that this golden age was lost and it was not until the fall of Pinochet in 1989 that exports took another spectacular turn.

The Classification System

A system does exist, named the appellation contrôlée in deference to the influence of the French, that divides the wine country into region, sub-region and zone.  As with elsewhere in the New World, it is delimited by geography rather than tradition and has little real significance to the consumer as yet.  However, as the Colchagua Valley zone within the Rapel Valley sub-region of the Central Valley region begins to flourish, the signs are that one day the classification will carry some weight.

Climate and Conditions

Known for being exceptionally long and thin, only the middle third of Chile produces quality wine.  Of more significance is its position between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean and the variations in altitude, temperature and rainfall this brings.   The majority of wine regions are hot and dry in summer, harnessing snowmelt from the mountains to water their vines, but cooler climates are being explored with immediate results.

The Wines of Today

Chile continues to produce value for money, enjoyable wines that are the envy of the world.  What they have started to do is add genuine quality and diversity to their range.  Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay remain at the core, but Viognier, Gewürztraminer and, most successfully, Pinot Noir are emerging.  Carmenère, only identified as distinct from Merlot in 1994, has given the country a grape of its own.  Most exciting of all, domestic consumption remains low and so most of this wine will keep coming our way.

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  1. Alto Los Romeros Gran Reserva Roussane Marsanne, Colchagua Valley, 2014

    Alto Los Romeros Gran Reserva Roussane Marsanne, Colchagua Valley, 2014 75cl

    Spiced pear and honey flavours are balanced with a crisp finish.

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    £10.14
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    £11.50
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    £8.45
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    £9.58
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  2. Alto Los Romeros, Reserva Gewutrztraminer, Central Valley, 2015

    Alto Los Romeros, Reserva Gewutrztraminer, Central Valley, 2015 75cl

    Characteristicly floral and spicy, this wine is a perfect match for Asian food. The surrounding wild Rosemary meadows of the Colchagua Valley enhance the elegance of the grape.

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    £7.56
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    £8.40
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    £6.30
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  3. In Situ Signature Chardonnay Viognier, Aconcagua, 2015

    In Situ Signature Chardonnay Viognier, Aconcagua, 2015 75cl

    Fermented in French oak, this wine blends clean, fresh Chardonnay aromas of pineapple and pear with the dense body and floral touch of Viognier.

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    £10.87
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    £12.25
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    £9.06
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    £10.21
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  4. Ladera Verde Chardonnay, Central Valley, 2015

    Ladera Verde Chardonnay, Central Valley, 2016 75cl

    Fresh, ripe exotic fruit characters abound in this consistently high-quality wine from Chile.

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    £5.92
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    £4.93
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    £4.96
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  5. Ladera Verde Sauvignon Blanc, Central Valley, 2015

    Ladera Verde Sauvignon Blanc, Central Valley, 2016 75cl

    A deliciously crisp Sauvignon Blanc with the vibrant bouquet so typical of this grape variety. A brilliant find.

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  6. Los Coches Viognier, Central Valley, 2014

    Los Coches Viognier, Central Valley, 2015 75cl

    Soft, pale straw in colour this wine has an intensely floral nose with hints of ripe peach. Full and rounded on the palate ending with a long honey like finish.

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    £6.65
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    £5.54
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    £5.79
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  7. Pato Torrente Chardonnay, Central Valley, 2014

    Pato Torrente Chardonnay, Central Valley, 2014 75cl

    A pure unoaked Chardonnay from Chile. A medium-bodied wine with lemony citrus fruit.

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    £5.94
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    £6.44
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    £5.37
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  8. Pato Torrente Sauvignon Blanc, Central Valley

    Pato Torrente Sauvignon Blanc, Central Valley, 2016 75cl

    Vibrant and zesty, this is a fresh and lively wine with sumptuous fresh fruit character.

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  9. Secreto de Viu Manent Viognier, Colchagua, 2013

    Secreto de Viu Manent Viognier, Colchagua, 2013 75cl

    Pale yellow green in colour with complex, fresh and fruity aromas this wine displays ripe exotic fruits with hints of apricot, ripe pears. Very fruity, yet balance with a long persistent finish.

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    £10.80
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  10. Vicuna Sauvignon Blanc, Central Valley, 2014

    Vicuna Sauvignon Blanc, Central Valley, 2016 75cl

    Good gooseberry fruit on the nose and through to the crisp dry palate.

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    £6.74
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    £5.00
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    £5.62
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  11. Almaviva, Puente Alto, 2009

    Almaviva, Puente Alto, 2009 75cl

    Absolutely fabulous wine from the Chilean producers Concha Y Toro and the famous Baron Phillipe de Rothschild of Bordeaux. Good fruit dominated by blackcurrants is supported by a deep chocolate flavour and a very generous finish. Delicious!

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    £86.83
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    £95.00
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    £72.36
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  12. Alto Los Romeros Gran Reserva Carignan

    Alto Los Romeros Gran Reserva Carignan, Colchagua Valley, 2013 75cl

    A wine with firm structure, plenty of body and black fruit flavours. The variety has benefited hugely from advances in wine making techniques, as it is a traditional blending grape in southern France.

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    £8.45
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