We are touring the world of wine virtually, as we wait for the day when the world is safe for us to travel in person again- we are getting there! Chile is a narrow strip of land, bordered to the east by the Andes Mountains, and the west by the Pacific Ocean. Chile shares a border with Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina, and their main language is Spanish. Spaniards began making wine as they settled Chile in the 16th century. Wine grape growing has become a significant agricultural product contributing to the Chilean economy, as the 5th largest wine producer in the world. The entire country of Chile extends along the Pacific, so this maritime influence makes for excellent growing conditions for Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir along the coast, and in the area of Casablanca. Heartier varietals like Cabernet, Merlot and Carmenere do equally well in Maipo, further inland.
The South American country, like Argentina, experiences Summer while we have our Winter, all the while hosting many sub-climates. The famous Easter Island is a Tropical Rainforest with February day time highs in the mid 80’s. You can see a replica of the famous statues of Easter Island on display all around the city of Santiago.
Central Chile has a Mediterranean climate – where most of the wineries are located in the hills and mountainous regions. Valle del Maipo is the wine region surrounding the area of Santiago, with the Maule Valley just south of there. You will see Maipo and Maule frequently on wine labels as these regions are the most popular for wine growing.
Once you land at the airport in Santiago and get through the crowded lines at customs, you will want to have a driver escort you through the city of one way main roads with very few double yellow lines. Santiago is rich in historic properties; government buildings, cathedrals and banks, but a few miles out of the city, the landscape has the backdrop of the towering snow-capped Andes. Soon vineyards appear, where red Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Carmenere grapes flourish.
Another common grape grown in Chile is Muscatelle (similar to Muscat) which is used to make a type of brandy that is famous in the region, called Pisco. A Pisco Sour is tradition before meals in Chile, and before bringing on the big game meats and hearty red wines native to their land. Chileans drink their Pisco like the French drink Champagne!
J Bouchon Pais Viejo is a favorite of ours here at Ed’s. The Pais grape was believed to have come to Chile through Spanish conquistadors via Peru. Pais is also known as Listan Prieto, and produces a thin red wine, that was primarily used for bulk wine production. Emile Bouchon left Bordeaux for Chile in the late 19th century. Today Julio Bouchon and his children are fourth generation winemakers in the Maule. This wine is full of bright cherry fruit, with aromas of wildflowers and sour cherries. It’s a perfect pairing to mushrooms or grilled salmon. I give it two bones.
Boya Pinot Noir is an approachable, coastal wine from Leyda Valley. Boya means “Buoy” in Spanish, appropriate as the vineyards overlook the Pacific Ocean. Strawberry, red cherry and floral aromas, this 100% Pinot Noir is aged in older French barrels giving it a soft finish with berry flavors. I give it two bones.
Casa Silva Carmenere Cuvee Colchagua this wine shows intense dark fruit, and hints of plum and spice. Carmenere was brought to Chile from Bordeaux in the 1800’s. Due to overgrowth and inexperience in the vineyards, for many years Carmenere was confused with the Merlot grape all over Chile. DNA tests were done in the late 1970’s and many vines that were thought to be Merlot were indeed the Carmenere varietal. Carmenere has become the “unofficial red grape” of Chile. Casa Silva is 100% Carmenere aged in French oak. Lively fruit, with a hint of green pepper on the finish, I give it three bones.
These are just a few of the wineries represented from Chile we carry here at Ed’s. Stop by for a look in the South American aisle, or call ahead and we can put together a Chilean wine experience just for you!