Long considered a source of light sippers, Chilean vineyards and wineries are demonstrating they’re coming into their own in the wine world of heavy hitters. In a little more than a decade, wines of Chile have matured, launching the nation’s winemakers into position for serious global competition, wine writer and photographer Tom Hyland wrote in a 2009 blog, and the number of awards has been growing steadily since then. “Vintners in Chile have taken their game to the next level over the past decade, as they have begun to search for the proper microclimates in which to plant particular varieties,” Hyland wrote. “In this respect, they are similar to the vintners of California in the early 1990s, when areas such as the Santa Lucia Highlands in Monterey and Sta. Rita Hills in Santa Barbara County were targeted for Pinot Noir; these are now two of the most sought-after areas for this variety in California.” California’s expert on Chilean Wines, Rebecca Chapa was recently interviewed by Wines of Chile, a promotional organization representing more than 90 Chilean wineries. She said although Chilean wines continue to suffer under misperceptions—for instance, that less expensive wines equates with lower quality and that the wines lack vibrant or high acid wines—the scene is all changing, thanks to a growing global market for the diverse range of Chilean varietals. “Chile has been doing some really exciting cool climate wines, some exciting blends and great whites,” she told Wines of Chile. “I would say the Chilean wines have a certain vibrancy while Napa wines can be a bit more dense. I have had fun doing some blind tastings with sommeliers and slipping a Napa wine in the mix — it’s unmistakable, not better or worse, just different.” Most recently, Chilean wines scored some tremendous accolades in the 2012 UK Sommelier Wine Awards, winning 82 gold, silver and bronze medals. That put them in 4th place, after Old World tritons France (187 medals), Italy (133 medals) and Spain (100 medals), but ahead of Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. Check out the full list of award-winning wines here. Some of those cool climate wineries Chapa says are producing such amazing wines and which also won some of the awards mentioned above were the recent focus of an online tasting hosted by Wines of Chile. The wine list included Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Chardonnay (2009) and Veramonte Ritual Sauvignon Blanc (2011). Wine reviewer Ben Carter, aka Benito, attended the tasting and noted his comments here. What’s your experience with Chilean wine? Have you witnessed the transformation? Photos used through a Creative Commons Attribution License by Wilhelm Wunderer and blmurch

Whitney Khan wrote at October 31, 2012
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Thanks for the comment, Robin! It's exciting to watch winemakers fine-tuning their grapes and winemaking processes. We get to enjoy the fruit of all that labor!
Whitney Khan
Robin Salls wrote at October 28, 2012
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I've recently enjoyed sampling wines of Chile and have found the Casa Del Bosque Chardonnay and Carmenere worth trying! I think Chile is coming into their own wine time! Enjoyed the post!
Robin Salls