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Chilean Wine Juice Varieties
(click on a varietal for a description)
Carmenere was one of the original Bourdeaux grapes and once thought to be extinct after French vines went through a Phylloxera plague in 1867. It has since been rediscovered in Chile where it was inadvertently planted with Merlot grapes. The drier growing season of central Chile has allowed for Carmenere to thrive once again much to the delight of winemakers. In fact, Chile is now the largest Carmenere producer in the world. With lighter body and softer tannins than a Cabernet, it has the fruit forward notes similar to a Merlot. Often lightly oaked, with a nose reminiscent of violets. Carmenere reveals flavors of cherry and berry set off with spice and earthy notes, Carmenere is a great addition to any cellar. Although it will benefit from aging, Carmenere can be enjoyed a little sooner than some of the other Bordeaux varieties.
Variety: Cabernet Sauvignon
The cooling effect Chile receives from the Pacific Ocean and the Humboldt current produces an ideal climate for grapes. This has led to Chile being second only to France in vineyard area dedicated to Cabernet Sauvignon. Known as the “King of Reds”, Cab boasts flavors of black currants, chocolate and fresh berry sauce. It makes for a full bodied wine with complex tannins and moderate acidity. Cabernet Sauvignon benefits from a Bordeaux style oak blend and will hold up to extended aging.
Variety: Pinot Noir
This lighter bodied red variety really thrives in the cooler, coastal areas of Chile. Expect more fruit forward notes with this varietal such as strawberry, raspberry and plum. You may even pick up some mineral notes from the coastal valleys where this grape is typically grown. Pinot noir is best lightly oaked with a French variety to create a pleasant vanilla finish and not cover up the delicate flavors of the grape.
Chilean Malbec is always one of our most sought after varieties. Due to the growing conditions, it is very different from neighboring Argentina’s Malbec. The Chilean style is a juicier, lighter version. Expect flavors of berry and pomegranate with aromas of violet and peony. A staple in any wine cellar, Chilean Malbec can develop pleasant notes of leather and tobacco with proper oak and aging techniques.
Variety: Cabernet Franc
Cabernet Franc is the grandfather grape to Cabernet Sauvignon. Although they are related, Cab Franc is lighter in body and very different in flavor from Cab Sauv. Rarely found as a single varietal, Cabernet Franc is higher in acidity and tannin than many of the other Chilean varietals. Herbaceous character with notes of black pepper, roasted pepper and red fruits. This wine pairs very well with goat cheese. Bottle Cabernet Franc to be enjoyed on it’s own or used to create your own Bordeaux blends.
The third most planted vine in Chile, Merlot is very smooth and drinkable. Naturally low in tannin and acid resulting in flavors of plum with cherry, subtle blueberry on the nose and a hint of pepper. Very versatile red wine that pairs with just about anything off of the grill.
Variety: Cabernet - Merlot Blend
This blend of two of the world’s most popular varietals produces a well-balanced wine with a deep ruby color. The rich texture and firm tannins of Cabernet combines with the soft, well ripened fruit of a Merlot to produce a very popular wine. Great with grilled meats or tomato based dishes.
One of the newcomers to the Chilean landscape, Syrah or Shiraz is quickly gaining a lot of attention in Chile. The warmer areas of the Maipo region give this varietal firm tannins with aromas of blueberries and cocoa. Enjoy this inky, purplish red wine with spicy foods and red meats.
Much like the success of the California vines, Chilean Zinfandel is recognized for its spice and berry flavor and aroma. Well ripened in the Maipo heat, this popular variety is a very zesty, red wine. Great with everything from lamb chops to pizza.
Variety: Pinot Grigio
Tangy and crisp due to a higher acidity in the grape, Chilean Pinot Grigio begins with a nose of apricot. The favor brings notes of lemon and pineapple that make this wine very versatile. This brilliantly gold wine pairs very well with dishes featuring chicken or turkey.
Similar to Chardonnay, this rich and aromatic grape produces flavors of peach and apricot. There are also subtle notes of orange blossom and honey that make this wine pair perfectly with most types of seafood. Typically a lower yielding grape varietal resulting in fewer plantings and a more rare white for your cellar.
From a high, cooler region next to the Andes, Chilean Riesling is a fuller bodied version of the German variety. However, it still showcases the same apricot floral aromas and crisp citrus fruit flavors you would expect from a European variety. Usually made to be off dry to sweet, enjoy Chilean Riesling with fish, chicken, ham or by itself as an aperitif.
One of the world’s sweetest grapes and the Chilean version is no exception. Very aromatic with a fruity nose, this wine is often back sweetened to enhance the ripe fruit flavors. Sometimes served as a dessert wine or even sparkling, Chilean Muscato pairs well with fresh fruits or desserts.
Pronounced ge·würz·tra·mi·ner, this aromatic white wine is often back sweetened. Highlighted by lychee aromas leading to grapefruit and pineapple flavors, this wine is similar to Muscato but with more intense aromatics and typically a higher alcohol content. Don’t let the name deter you from adding this great varietal to your cellar!
Variety: Sauvignon Blanc
This highly aromatic varietal can best be described as zesty. Benefitting from some of the cooler climates, Sauvignon Blanc gives notes of green apple, pear, lime and passionfruit. The terrain often gives Sauvignon Blanc herbaceous and mineral nuances. The zingy acidity of this varietal often makes it a good pairing for shrimp, fish and other types of seafood.
This versatile varietal is the most widely planted grape in the world and Chile is no exception. Featuring attractive mineral notes with tropical fruit flavors, Chardonnay can processed in a number of ways. Either oaked or un-oaked, buttery or crisp, this wine can pair with any number of dishes ranging from fresh fish to creamy chicken pasta. If oaked, we recommend a light French variety that makes for pleasant vanilla notes and better aging than other white varietals.
Variety: Chenin Blanc
This graceful wine is medium-bodied with a pale straw colour. The fruity scented nose has hints of green apple and lemon with a subtle floral bouquet. On the palate, the wine is delightfully refreshing.