For a New World wine region, Chile has a long viticultural history which dates back to the 16th Century when the Spanish conquistadores bought vines with them. In the mid-19th Century, French varieties were introduced and this, coupled with a large number of French families immigrating to Chile during the late 20th century, meant that Chile would look to France (rather than Spain) for its vinous inspiration.
As the fifth largest exporter, and the seventh largest producer, of wine in the world, Chile has often suffered from a reputation for producing quantity over quality. However a small number of premium producers are making the most of the unique terroirs to make world class wines that can compete with the best from Bordeaux and beyond.
At ‘The Berlin Tasting’ in 2004 (organised by Steven Spurrier and what proved to be South America’s equivalent of ‘The Judgement of Paris’), a Chilean wine – 2000 Viñedo Chadwick – took first place in a blind tasting of the world’s greatest Cabernet blends from France and Italy. Ten years and 22 blind tastings later – and with consistent results – it was clear that Chilean wines had achieved world class quality.