It was the Spanish conquistadors who first bought vines to Chile in the 16th century. By the mid 19th century French wine varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon were introduced, and in the early 80s Chile’s wine renaissance began with the introduction of stainless steel fermentation tanks and the use of oak barrels for aging. Today Chile is the fifth largest exporter of wines in the world, and the ninth largest producer. Over 300 wineries and a dozen wine regions stake a solid claim on Chile’s landscape from north to south. The Mediterranean-esque climate means Chile is blessed with cool winters and warm summers and sunshine buffered ocean breezes; the perfect grape growing climate.
Most of the wine action happens within a 200 mile radius of Santiago, Chile’s bustling capital city within the surrounding valleys. Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc dominate the white wine market. Rather than growing these in the valleys where the red wines are mostly produced, the cooler coastal climates of Casablanca and San Antonio give Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc a delicious fruity edge, composed of bright and zesty acidity.
Both wines are now Chilean staples to accompany fresh oysters, shellfish and abundant regional seafood dishes that the country has to offer. Overseas Chilean white wines stand strong at the forefront at the market, not most for their impressive flavours, but also their competitive prices.