What’s hot in Chile

Back in February 2020, just before the world started locking down due to Covid-19, I enjoyed an eye-opening trip round Chilean wine country.

These trips are always eye-opening. Chilean wine is a scene seemingly stuck on fast-forward, such is the pace of change and novelty. And the results are hugely exciting. Chile is entering a new phase in its wine evolution, and it’s hard to take your eyes off the place.

Just a few of the intriguing things I did on the trip included the following:

  • Sitting down with an indigenous Mapuche leader to discuss the progress of his Pinot Noir.
  • Viewing a new vineyard on the slopes of an ominously smoking volcano.
  • Mulling a project to establish commercial wine-growing on Easter Island (it’s still early days, but you never know).
  • Taking a boat to a tiny island off Chiloé, in Chile’s deep south, to visit a pioneering vineyard planted with the likes of Albariño, Pinot Gris and Riesling.
  • Tasting a wine grown in a prison (thank you, Viña Capitán Pastene).
  • Earnestly discussing sake yeast, flor, skin contact, field blends, carbonic fermentation for Chardonnay, and ‘Chilean Chartreuse’.

An intensive series of tastings also laid bare the huge strides that are being taken by the larger and more traditional Chilean producers in terms of making wines with elegance, as well as a sense of place, identity and uniqueness.

I wrote this piece for Decanter magazine shortly after my return and recommend producers including Viñedos Baettig, Garage Wine Co, Viña Marty, La Roncière, San Pedro, Lapostolle, Carmen, Carter Mollenhauer, Casa Marín, De Martino, Las Niñas, Dagaz, Santa Rita, Concha y Toro, Montes, Altaïr, Odfjell, Viu Manent, VIK, Ribera del Lago, Luis Felipe Edwards, Massoc, Morandé, Terranoble, Zaranda, Santa Carolina, Atacalco, Piedra Nativa, Pisador, Ribera Pellín, Casa Silva, Aquitania, Alto las Gredas, Trapi del Bueno and Viña Mardones. 

[What’s Hot in Chile? appeared in Decanter magazine’s October 2020 edition – you can also find it on the Decanter website]

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