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A Guide to Inexpensive Chilean Wine

SANTIAGO — I decided to make the great sacrifice of sampling several different types of red wine so that I could provide you a guide to tasty reds of the relatively inexpensive variety. Ok… truth be told, I drank these wines not for the purpose of informing others what they tasted like, but to please my own palate. I should add that this is a guide to reds because I do not enjoy white wine, and thus have not sacrificed myself so willingly on that front.

I should also inform you that I’m no connoisseur, and my descriptions will be utterly unappealing to those who might refer to a “nose” as anything outside of that lump of cartilage on one’s face. But rest assured, these wines all taste good, and the price is right.
Doña Dominga by Casa Silva

I recommend the Cabernet Sauvignon, Carménère, Merlot, and all of the blends. This is about the cheapest wine you can get in Chile, but don’t underestimate it! It is delicious, and you can spill it guilt-free. I had my doubts too, but I was very pleasantly surprised.

Here is a review of the Carmenére from someone with more articulate taste buds than my own: “Robust, succulent style. Juicy, bright cherry and floral aromas leading to a lifted, yet rewarding, earthy beetroot and coffee character with lots of black fruits, savory leather notes and a lovely texture.” Thanks,, for making this wine sound just as delightful as it is.

I do not recommend more expensive bottles from Casa Silva. The ones I have had are really peppery and spicy, and simply are not as good as Doña Dominga. Why spend more for less?
Casillero del Diablo Malbec Reserva by Concha y Toro

Their Cabernet Sauvignon is also flavorful, but the Malbec is outstanding. This is my favorite among the cheaper wines. According to Casillero del Diablo’s site, the “robust Malbec has intense, dark fruit flavours and hints of black pepper and vanilla.”

If you are only going to try one wine in Chile, this should be it. It’s got character, it’s extremely reasonably priced, and it could even be a good gift to bring back home with you. However, keep in mind this is one of the few Chilean brands that you can actually find in the US.

Aliwen Reserva by Undurraga

Once again I feel that the Cabernet is good, even great, but the blends are excellent. Choose from Cabernet/Merlot (my favorite), Cabernet/Syrah or Cabernet/Carménère.
A glance at the Winery’s site tells us that the Cabernet/Merlot blend “has an attractive violet red color and an elegant aroma. Oak characteristics have mingled perfectly with the fruit, making this an ideal choice to accompany red meat, stews, pasta, and cheese.”
I think it’s good with everything, especially sharing with friends over a game of Monopoly (Chile Edition, of course).
Finally, if you ever want to splurge, I highly recommend:

Vistamar Gran Reserva by Vistamar

Their Cabernet Sauvignon / Syrah blend is glorious. Rather than waste your time with my own sloppy description, here is the an articulate one from their site, translated by yours truly: “Its aroma is a blend of red and black berries along with spices such as rosemary and cedar. It has notes of caramel, chocolate and mocha. Its palate is very complex, beginning soft and silky, elegantly developing fruity flavors with notes of caramel and wood. Its long finish is sweet and juicy.”

This is one you can be proud to bring home to your parents, or as a gift for someone very special, or even when you feel like spoiling yourself.

I hope with this list I’ve saved you some time, some bad wine, and a few pesos. I invite your comments if you’ve got your own idea of a delicious, inexpensive, Chilean red wine. After all, wine is best shared.

By Jamie Schau
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