16 exciting white and sparkling wines from Chile – The Drinks Business



We bring you 16 exciting white and sparkling wines from Chile following a comprehensive tasting of new releases from this Latin American nation.

Taking in drops from the extreme south of the country (Osorno) to the far north (Atacama), it also includes brilliant traditional method fizz – with the help of Champagne’s Thiénot family; a delicious orange wine from ancient vines; a fine pale dry rosé using Touriga Nacional; along with a raft of beautifully crafted Chardonnays, Semillons and Sauvignon Blancs.
The wines featured in this selection were taken from 30 leading producers in Chile. Wines of Chile asked them to submit no more than two wines for sampling. The wineries put forward commercially-available samples that they were most proud of, representing new and exciting bottles, along with the latest vintages of established labels. All the wines were assessed “blind”, and my thoughts on the high points following this sampling exercise can be read here.

Varieties: Cinsault 90% (Itata), 10% Pinot Gris (Casablanca)
Region: Itata RRP: Under £10
Score: 90
A pretty pale salmon pink tank-method sparkling wine using old vine Cinsault from Itata and a touch of Pinot Gris from Casablanca to bring zest. The style is fresh, dry, and pristine, with some rich ripe red-apple fruit and a touch of cranberry on the finish. A lovely, inexpensive, if drier and less aromatic, alternative to pink Prosecco.

Varieties: 60% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir
Region: Limarí Valley
RRP: £20-£30
Score: 92
This rosé variant from Tabalí and Champagne Thienot’s sparkling tie-up follows the inaugural blanc launched a couple of years ago. Like that wine, it’s another fine bottle of fizz, showcasing the quality of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Limarí –a coastal region in the far north of the country. Made using the traditional method, it has plenty of biscuity richness, and a lovely creamy textured fizz, while the fruit from Tabalí’s Talinay vineyard brings crisp apple and cranberry fruit characters, while a low dosage ensures a cleansing, bone-dry finish. A wellmade taut style of fizz that’s bright and refreshing now, but could be cellared for three to five years to deliver more nutty and honeyed characters.

Varieties: Moscatel
Region: Itata
Closure: Screwcap
RRP: Under £10
Score: 89
Using Moscatel grapes from Itata, this “orange” wine from Luis Felipe Edwards employs ancient vines to tap into a trend for skin-contact whites, while crafting a wine with character at an accessible price. Stylistically, it’s rich, oily, seemingly slightly sweet, but finishing dry, with mouth-coating tannins to refresh. As for the flavours, it’s intense, with plenty of dried fruit, from raisins to apricot, along with a touch of marmalade, complemented by some floral aromatics, and a salty edge to the finish. Distinctive, persistent and, for those concerned about the “orange” tag and appearance, it’s not oxidative in taste.

Varieties: Sauvignon Blanc
Region: San Antonio
Closure: Screwcap
RRP: Under £10
Score: 88+
Clean, fresh, zesty, inexpensive and organic, this Sauvignon Blanc ticks more boxes than most with its appealing pear and citrus flavours, and long, lemony finish. A great-value expression of San Antonio Sauvignon, particularly if you consider that it hails from a prized, low-yielding, organic vineyard that was planted by Cono Sur in 2009.

Varieties: Sauvignon Blanc
Region: Osorno
Closure: Screwcap
RRP: £10-15
Score: 89

By using Sauvignon Blanc from one of Chile’s most southerly vineyards, Torres has managed to craft a white wine with pungent green bean and capsicum aromatics, and a palate with plenty of fresh lime and a crisp, crunchy finish. An extreme and powerfully scented form of refreshment.

Varieties: Sauvignon Blanc
Region: San Antonio
Closure: Screwcap
RRP: £15-20
Score: 89
This super-citrusy Sauvignon Blanc hails from one of Viña Leyda’s coolest sites in San Antonio. Mixing fresh lime and lemon fruit, with a touch of pear, it’s light, clean and crisp in style, which ensures it provides lip-smacking refreshment.

Varieties: Semillón
Region: Curicó
Closure: Screwcap
RRP: £15-20
Score: 92+
Proving that toast and lemon scented whites don’t need only to be made with Chardonnay is this delicious Semillon from Aresti under its Trisquel label. Combining characters of charred bread, sponge cake and citrus zest, it’s got layers of flavour to provide plenty of interest for thirsty palates. Plus, with an oily mouthfeel that ends with a tangy freshness as soon as the wine is swallowed, it’s both rich and refreshing –a great combination.

Varieties: Semillón
Region: Apalta
Closure: Agglomerated cork
RRP: £20-30
Score: 92
A fascinating, layered white wine with flavours of fresh lemon and pear, and some ripe pineapple, along with a touch of apple skin, and then toast and cream. Despite being powerfully flavoured, and oily in texture, this has plenty of tangy citrus freshness, and provides a wonderful example of the quality potential from very old vine Semillon from Apalta. A great-looking bottle, too.

Varieties: A blend of white grapes planted together, including Semillón, Sauvignon Vert, Moscatel, Torontel, and Corinto
Region: Apalta
Closure: Agglomerated cork
RRP: £30
Score: 92+
Using a field blend of white grapes from a very old vineyard in Apalta, this wine from Floresta excites the palate with its broad range of flavours, from apple and lemon, to orange and grape, along with notes of rose petal, tea leaves and dried grass. While it has a rich texture, there’s citrus and chalky tannins to dry and refresh the mouth for another sip of this deliciously different white.

Varieties: Chardonnay
Region: Limarí
Closure: Natural cork
RRP: £10-15
Score: 91
A good-value, wellmade example of Limarí Chardonnay with its salty-citrus freshness, along with peach and melon richness, nicely complemented by a touch of peanutty lees- and oak-derived character.

Varieties: Chardonnay
Region: Leyda
Closure: Screwcap
RRP: £10-15
Score: 90

A bright, fruity, balanced Chardonnay with a gently oily texture, combining flavours of melon and peach with some grapefruit notes that give freshness to the finish.

Varieties: Chardonnay
Region: Malleco
Closure: Agglomerated cork
RRP: £20-30
Score: 91
This beautifully balanced, oily textured Chardonnay from Morandé features plenty of peach and pear fruit, along with notes of cashew nut from the oak used in its winemaking, before surprising with a lime-flavoured kick to the palate, giving a pleasant zesty finish to this generous white.

Varieties: Chardonnay
Region: Atacama
Closure: Agglomerated cork
RRP: £40
Score: 91
Who would have thought that the world’s driest desert would be the source of a delicious Chardonnay? Well, Tara from Ventisquero is made with fruit from the Atacama, and features a lovely array of flavours from peach and orange to oatmeal and peanut, with a fresh apple and lemon finish. A classic Chardonnay from a seriously extreme terroir.

Varieties: Chardonnay
Region: Limarí
Closure: Natural cork
RRP: £50
Score: 94+
If you need convincing that Chile can craft Chardonnay to rival the best in the world, then try the Amelia white from Concha y Toro. Using grapes from Limarí –a region where you can find limestone soils and cool conditions – it’s a white with intensity and lift, combining characters of pear and peach, with fresh lemon and apple, complemented by a touch of creamy vanilla from the barrels used to ferment and age the wine. Making it particularly persistent and appealing to drink is a tangy, salty, citrusy finish –a trait that also suggests this is a wine that has the potential to age for years to come, and improve as it does.

Varieties: Chardonnay
Region: Limarí
Closure: Screwcap
RRP: £19
Score: 94
Another example that confirms the excellence of Chardonnay from Limarí, and the reliable quality of Undurraga’s T.H series. Beautifully balanced, with some ripe Chardonnay fruit – pineapple and peach – but also fresh notes of salty lemon, this is a juicy but bright white. Plus it’s complex, with a touch of nutty, toasty oak influence, and some smoky, struck match lees-sourced aromatics.

Varieties: Chardonnay
Region: Aconcagua Costa
Closure: Natural cork
RRP: £50
Score: 93+

Despite being relatively new to the scene, this white wine from Errazuriz’s slate-based vineyards in Aconcagua Costa has shot to fame, with some declaring it to be Chile’s best Chardonnay. It’s certainly an impressive drop, with a hint of ripe Chardonnay fruit, but most noticeably a searing combination of lime and crisp apple, along with some grapefruit tang, creating an intensely refreshing, linear style that’s clearly built for extended cellaring. There’s also some salty stone-like notes to the finish, along with some subtle smoky toast and cashew characters from the ageing on fine lees in French oak.
Read more
10 reasons to get excited about Chilean wine right now

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