Chile is now one of the most exciting players on the world wine map. It's a long thin country and not very wide so the range of climates varies enormously. Starting in the north In the Coqimbo region close to the Atacama Desert and finishing in the cooler climate of the Malleco Valley, there is a broad spectrum of wines on offer.
Because of the limiting Andes mountains and on the western side the Pacific Ocean, Chile has never suffered from the dreaded Phylloxera and so many older vines have their original rootstock rather than having been grafted onto the more usual European option of American rootstock.
In the Coquimbo region, Syrah fares well in the granite based soils and it also flourishes in the Aconcagua Valley. One of the most notable areas of the latter is the Casablanca Valley where the cooler climate is ideally suited to growing Sauvignon Blanc and many fine examples can now be found in the export market.
Without doubt, the workhorse area of Chilean wine production is the Central Valley, made up of 4 separate regions - the Maipo Valley, the Rapel Valley, the Curico Valley and the Maule Valley. The Maipo Valley grows the red Bordeaux varieties producing wines of deep colour and many fine blends can be found from here. The Rapel Valley is also home to many red wines. In fact this region divides into two separate valleys - the Cachapoal and the Colchagua. Merlot flourishes in the former while the mist affected climate of the Colchagua Valley is more suited to the growing of Pinot Noir.
The cooler climates of the Curico and Maule valleys make for fresher styled wines of good perfume. Red wine is the order of the day but some excellent Sauvignon Blanc now emanates from the Curico region. The southerly Maule Valley is truly the fruit basket of Chile. It's here that many eating grapes were once planted but now wine grapes are providing a good living for many. The signature red grape of Chile is the Carmenere and it is here that it flourishes to perfection and many parcels of older vines can be found.
Finally, moving even further south into the Itata, Bio-Bio and Malleco valleys, some good success has been achieved with more aromatic grape varieties such as Gewürztraminer and Riesling.
Whatever your particular taste, you can be sure to find it within Chile and prices for the most part remain good to.