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  • Writer's pictureMatias

Exploring the exquisite world of Chilean wines

Casas del Bosque winery

Chile, my homeland, is celebrated worldwide for its exceptional and award winning wines. With a rich variety of grape types, blending methods, climates, and terroirs, Chilean wine culture is pretty unique and constantly evolving. The country's wine reputation isn't only about becoming a top wine producer and exporter; there's a focus on crafting incredible experiences and unique wines that impresses both critics and everyday enthusiasts like myself.


Having visited numerous wineries across the country over the last two decades, and even exchanging vows in one, I've come to appreciate wine as an essential part of my life. Since moving to London almost 14 years ago, my wine knowledge and journey has expanded to include French, Spanish, Italian, German (read the post about Germany's wine region), Greek and Eastern European wines. Wherever I travel, tasting local wines, touring vineyards, and chatting with fellow wine lovers is a must. Each winemaker tells a story deeply rooted in their history and culture, making every glass of wine a special experience. These yearly wine exploration trips, combined with my existing love for wine, ensure that every return to Chile is an opportunity to discover new wineries, blends, and appreciate the art of winemaking. Each region and valley have something unique and different to offer, from spectacular scenery to deeply rooted traditions, it's impossible to get bored of this Chilean journey of wine discovery.


What makes Chilean wine special?

Not many countries have the rich geography of my country, which offers diverse climates from north to south, meaning different opportunities to craft unique wines. This allows Chile to grow today over 30 commercially viable grape varieties, being the most famous ones Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Carmenere, a red grape originally from Bordeaux (France) that was once thought to be extinct. Coupled with the unique terroir, microclimates, and local winemaking techniques, this diversity has earned Chilean winemakers international recognition, a reputation they're keen to uphold for years to come. While wines like Don Melchor, Clos de Apalta, and Montes Folly have long been celebrated, more and more wines from different wineries are joining the list.


However and beyond the quality of the wine, what makes a visit to this country even more appealing for wine enthusiast, is that most of the acclaimed Chile wineries are conveniently located an hour away from the capital city Santiago, the port of arrival for every international tourist. Even in the outskirts of the capital you can find some of the most traditional wineries such as Concha y Toro, otherwise, you can grab a car and drive towards the coast for only an hour to get to the stunning valley of Casablanca, where you get to sip fantastic white wine. This accessibility is yet another reason why international wine lovers frequently enjoy visiting this country - the diverse wine trails are right at your doorstep.


Pictures: Casablanca valley, Colchagua valley, Montes, Kingston, Clos de Apalta

 

The main and most celebrated wine valleys of Chile


According to Wines of Chile, the country currently boasts 800 active wineries, 11,697 producers, and 394 export companies, with 76% of them categorized as SMEs. The majority of these producers are situated within the six main wine regions, with four standing out prominently, each divided into various wine valleys. I’m also sharing some of  my favourite wineries that do not rely solely on the wine itself but the entire concept of wine making; setting, terroir and of course taste - a blend of all those factors that make these my favourite to visit. 


1. Central Valley: The heartbeat of Chilean winemaking


The Central Valley serves as the beating heart of Chile's winemaking industry, offering the chance to visit great numbers of renowned wine makers and where the country’s best wines are produced. Within its realm lie renowned sub-regions like Maipo Valley, Colchagua Valley, and Casablanca Valley. Here, between warm days and cool nights, an array of grape varieties thrive. Maipo Valley is known for its bold Cabernet Sauvignon, while Colchagua Valley specializes in Carmenere. Additionally, Casablanca Valley offers delightful surprises with its crisp Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, thanks to its seaside location. 


Unmissable wineries in the valley: Montes, Clos de Apalta, Casas del Bosque, Kingston, Matetic, Caliterra, and many more! 


2. Aconcagua Valley: Where elegance and intensity merge


Nestled between the Coastal Range and the Andes Mountains, Aconcagua Valley offers wines of elegance and intensity. Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah thrive in its unique microclimate, producing wines of remarkable depth and character. Even though there aren’t as many wine producers as in the central valley, a visit promises stunning landscapes and unforgettable wine tastings. 


Unmissable wineries in the valley: Von Siebenthal


3. Maule Valley: Embracing tradition and innovation


Maule Valley, rich in winemaking tradition, showcases old-vine Carignan and Pais grapes alongside innovative winemaking techniques. Here, you'll find a diverse selection of wines reflecting the region's rich heritage and terroir. With its rustic charm and historic vineyards, Maule Valley offers a classic wine experience.


Unmissable wineries in the valley: Casas Patronales and Bouchon 


4. Bio Bio Valley: Exploring Chile's new frontier


In Chile's southernmost wine region, Bio Bio Valley is quietly making waves and becoming the talk of the town. With its cooler climate, this emerging region is gaining recognition for vibrant cool-climate wines. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay shine here, offering wines with refreshing acidity and delicate flavours. Even though it is still a niche and less visited region, local wine connoisseurs are talking more and more about this Valley. It's the only valley I haven't visited due to its location and the limited availability of wine tours and wines.



 

In summary, it's all about celebrating Chile's exquisite wine and diversity. From the sunny vineyards of the Central Valley to the coastal breezes of Casablanca Valley, Chile's wine regions present a wide spectrum of flavours and experiences. Whether you're a seasoned wine lover or an adventurous traveller, exploring Chilean wines is a journey filled with discovery and enjoyment. So let's raise a glass to my country's wines, where every sip is a testament to passion, tradition, and terroir. Cheers! 🍷


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