Chile is one of the world’s great producers of wines. In a few short years, it has become one of the powerhouses of the global wine industry.
What makes Chile’s rise spectacular is that it comprises high volumes of very decent quality, reliable wines with an output of ultra-premium world beaters.
Chile is blessed with a unique geography – long and thin with the high Andes to one side and the Pacific ocean to the other, cooled as it is by the Humbolt Current rising up from Antarctica. Chile has much greater diversity in soils and climates from east to west than from north to south.
The character of a Chilean wine is far less influenced by its latitude than its longitude. That is to say that the variety of terroir comes much less from distance north or south, much more from proximity to the Andes or the Pacific.
Chile offers ideal conditions for a very broad range of grape varieties. Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling and Viognier all flourish. As do Pinot Noir, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. The Carmenere varietal (rich red) is unique to Chile.
Chile was never affected by the 19th-century phylloxera epidemic which cut swathes through European vineyards. As a result, it kept its precious old growth vines introduced by the Spanish colonists of the 16th century.