CURRENT STATUS OF CHILEAN WINE INDUSTRY:
Unlike Argentina, it took a long time to import technology and capital for its wine industry, Chilean advantage since the days of the 50’s knowledge, experience and capital of French investors, Spanish, and later American, to develop their wine industry. While Argentine engaged in producing wines of medium quality, which consumed almost entirely, Chilean properly advised, they accepted investment and imported technology, and engaged in producing and exporting excellent wines. As a result of this situation the Chilean wine industry development significantly to such an extent that in 2004 the export of Chilean wines reached the amount of $ 835 million dollars. Most of those exports are made to the United States, the United Kingdom, Latin America and Asia. Chileans, Argentines opposed to only consume 10% of the wines we produce and export the other 90%. Annual wine consumption “per capita” is only 40 liters, (we’ll drink some CPA’s colleagues in a month).
As we know, the Republic of Chile is an extremely long and narrow country, with a climate ranging from temperate in the area of glaciers in Patagonia, to extremely hot and arid Atacama desert areas, all with the Range Andes as a natural border between Chile and Argentina. This has allowed wine producers to have access to different “terroirs” and different temperatures, which have used different vines to plant and produce excellent wines.
The most important wine regions of Chile are: Valle del Maipo, Curico Valley, Valle del Aconcagua, Colchagua Valley, Casablanca Valley and Maule Valley.
The best known and most important Chilean wineries are: Vina Concha y Toro, Viña Undurraga, Vina San Pedro, Vina Santa Carolina Vina Santa Rita, Vina Errazuriz, Vina Cousino Macul, Ventisquero, Veramonte, Almaviva (it’s a joint venture between French wine producer Baron Philippe de Rothschild and Concha y Toro), Viña Odell (Norwegian capital US and Chilean winemakers) and Santa Ema, among others.
Grapes used for wine production:
The Carmenere grape is the signature grape of Chile. This grape was commonly used in French vineyards in the Bordeaux area and was exported to Chile for the first winemakers to be used in mixtures with other grapes. As a result of the plague of phylloxera that affected the vineyards in Europe, this grape disappeared in Europe and was reported missing worldwide. In the early nineties a French winemaker who visited Chile to experiments realized he was developing some vines that were classified as Chilean Merlot were actually Carmenere. Once satisfied that discovery, Chileans were devoted to propagate and is one of the most important grapes in Chile. The wines produced with the Carmenere grape wines are flavored vegetables, minerals, fruits, herbs, spices, and flavors related. Because of its aroma and strong flavor, many producers mix them with other grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Frank, and others.
Other grapes used in the production of Chilean wines are the Cabernet Sauvignon (it is the most used), Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Frank, and Tempranillo, among others.
If we compare the number of Chilean wines with Argentina we will realize that the amount of labels produced by Chile is much lower than that produced by Argentina. However, almost all Chilean wines are excellent quality, although higher priced (the Argentines still produce a lot of table wine).
Among those recommended Chilean wines are the following:
Low price (between $ 13.00 to $ 25.00): Undurraga, Viña Carmen, Tarapaca, Terramater, Glacier, St. Helena, St. Rita, Casa Silva, Santa Digna, Viu Manent, Canepa, Mont Gras, La Playa, Casillero del Diablo Miguel Torres, Montes Alpha, Amelia, Trios.
Median-priced (between $ 25.00 to $ 35.00): Vina Tarapaca, Viña Leyda Reserve Castillo de Molina, Marques de Casa Concha, Carpe Diem, Terrunyo-Vina Concha y Toro, Luis Felipe Edwards, Los Vascos, Owner-Odfjell, Orzada- Odfjell, Urban Uco, Viña deAtilio Avena, Chilean Horse, De Martino, Casa Marin, Veramonte Primus, Chateau Los Boldos.
High price (between $ 35.00 to $ 100.00): Don Melchor – Concha y Toro (wine of excellent quality and excellent price), Almaviva (it’s fine wines), Valdivieso Reserve Orzada, Vina Santa Rita-Floresta, Don Amado, Clos Apalta, Sena- Villa Errazuriz, Caballo Rojo.
As with Argentine wines, many wine lists in restaurants in Puerto Rico do not include a good variety of Chilean wines, and many of the waiters and sommeliers know very little about the wines. That forces us to try to get these wines directly from dealers or wine shops. Finally, if you still have not tried any Carmenere, I recommend starting with the Terrunyo Concha y Toro (about $ 23.00 or Don Melchor de Concha y Toro (about $ 50.00). I assure you will not regret.