Updated: Nov 28, 2022
When people think about Chilean wines they often categorise them as volume-driven supermarket gluggers from Casablanca in the central valley. However, because of climate change, winemakers are moving away from the increasingly arid central valley and finding other climates and areas up and down the length of Chile in which to plant vines. The further south you go, the more likely you are to encounter terroir-driven, artisan winemakers in Chile, in areas such as Itata and BioBio, nudging up against the region of Patagonia. Here we can find old vines being brought back to life and the ancient grape of pais and the ‘rock star grape’ cinsault are being planted. These grapes are producing amazing lighter styles of red wine with traditional natural winemaking methods such as foot-treading and pressing grapes through bamboo cane.
As a result we’re seeing much more sophisticated, involved style of wines coming through alongside the classic pinots and chardonnays from Chile (which have also come on) that deserve to reach a wider audience. I would urge you to hunt out wines from these re-emerging regions of Chile (Itata, BioBio) which once produced in volume for other wineries but are now doing their own thing, creating delicate, crunchy wines of real character.
Search for these wines in your local supermarket (Aldi has stocked lovely Chilean wines from Pais from time to time, for example – and Waitrose has an £8.99 Pais in its Loved & Found range, currently offered at 25% for 6 or more bottles) or from any reputable wine merchant.