Appears in
Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

With a particularly varied climate and topography, this long, narrow south american country on the Pacific Ocean was long associated with reliable, inexpensive wines, but a new generation is beginning to show that it can produce more than bargains. The Spanish may have introduced viticulture, but since the 19th century, France has had the greatest influence on the Chilean wine industry, primarily with Bordeaux varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Carmenère.

Chile is famously phylloxera-free, which means that grafting is not necessary. Since the 1990s, new zones such as San Antonio and Limarí have supplemented the traditional valleys such as Maipo, Aconcagua, and Colchagua, and southern regions such as Itata and parts of Maule that were semi-abandoned have been rediscovered as sources of new flavours and styles. Chile is one of the world’s most energetic wine exporters. Thanks to a flurry of planting, vineyards totalled 205,000 ha/506,000 acres by 2012 according to the oiv, and total wine production in 2013 was 12 million hl/317 million gal, nearly three-quarters of which was destined for export.