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Chile has rightly earned a reputation for producing some of the world’s best wines over the past few decades. And it’s not hard to see why; this is a country that has seriously upped the quality of its wine production in recent times, yet the majority of the bottles remain highly affordable. Indeed, for consumers looking for a balance between value and taste, there’s arguably no wine-producing country more favoured than Chile.
The international reputation of Chilean wines has been pretty solid for several decades now. But Chile has been producing wine for much longer than that. You can trace Chilean wine all the way back to the middle part of the 16th century, so they’re far from newcomers! While there are some doubts as to how Chile ended up with wine-producing grapes, most people believe they were brought over from Spain by missionaries who intended to use them for the Eucharist. Chilean wine was largely unremarkable until a push in the early 1970s to improve the quality led to international recognition.
Chile is blessed with a landscape that is perfect for wine production. Across the country, you’ll find a whole host of wine producers, with some regions being more notable than others.
The Colchagua Valley, which is around 100 miles south of Santiago, is comparable to California’s Napa Valley. The most famous wines from this region are Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Carmenère wines -- though just about any warm-weather red wine will be great.
Maipo Valley is the site of the earliest grape plantings, way back in the 16th century. It’s where the country’s most famous Cabernet wines come from.
Maule Valley is Chile’s most southern wine region and also its largest. This is more of a specialist wine region; here, and unlike other wine regions in Chile, they focus more on quality rather than quantity.
Finally, there’s Casablanca Valley. If you try a white wine from Chile, it likely came from this region, which is located close to the Pacific Ocean. There’s not much history here -- the first grapes were planted in the 1980s -- but what it lacks in history, it more than makes up in delicious wines.
Nearly all of these grape varieties were introduced from France, though a couple made their way to Chile via Germany.
Wine season is more or less at the same point in the same season, no matter where in the world the winery is located: it all happens in late summer to autumn. Because Chile is in the southern hemisphere, that means their wine season (usually) runs from February/March-May.
Looking to pick up a bottle of wine that exemplifies all there is to know and love about Chilean wines? Try one of these bottles:
After you’ve taken a sip, you’ll know why Chile’s wine reputation is so good! Our dedicated page of Chilean Wine showcases a great range of wine for you to get stick in to. Why don't you head over and take a look?
Find out more about other wine producing countries: