Wine Fest Features Great Chilean Wine
It’s #WineFest here at Portillo! We love highlighting the delicious and complex wines produced here in Chile. The quality of Chilean wines and their respect on the world wine stage has grown exponentially over the past couple of decades and we want our guests to know, too! If you’re not able to join us for one of our wine weeks during our winters (although we highly recommend it!) here’s a quick guide to some of the wines you can find in Chile — and your local beverage store to try at home.
Chile’s signature grape was long mistaken as Merlot as it shares many qualities with the Merlot grape, but it differs in its trend towards more red fruits like cherry and raspberry. This gives it the Carmenere a very different flavor than a Merlot. It doesn’ have as much tannin making it lighter and easier to drink than a Merlot or a Cabernet Sauvignon.
Some say this is the most notable wine of Chile as it is the most widely produced. It comes from the Central Valley near Santiago and you’ll see vineyards on your trip from the airport in the capital up to Portillo. The bright, rich flavors given to the cabernet grape from the central valley terrior create delicious, softer Cabernets.
While much of the Merlot produced in Chile prior to the early 1990s was re-classified as Carmenere, there are still delicious Merlots and Merlot blends produced in many locations through Chile including the Rapel Valley and the Colchagua Valley. Characteristics of Chilean Merlots are soft, supple, and make for easy drinking.
One of the spicier reds from Chile, Syrahs are relatively new to Chile, but are growing rapidly both in production and quality. Different than the spicy, sturdy, big reds of the same grape in France and Australia, Chilean Syrahs from the sunnier, warmer regions produce more peppery notes with soft blackcurrant undertones.
Made famous primarily by the wines from neighboring Argentina, the Malbec has some great producers in Chile as well. Still with the dark fruit flavors, the general tilt of the Chilean Malbec is toward lighter but still with great depth. Portillo has some great Malbecs on our wine list to add a decidedly South American flavor to your dinner!