Cabs of Chile: Top 4 Recommended
Stylistic Differences between Maipo and Colchagua, two of Chile’s best Cab regions.
The organization, Wines of Chile, asked me to sample some of their best Cabernet Sauvignon wines this Spring as part of their sample program for 2022. I was impressed with the stylistic differences and the overall quality of these wines. See Top 4 Recommendations below.
The best of tasting was not surprising to me. The Cordillera Cabernet 2018, Maipo Alto, Chile, was made by Familia Torres. In 2021 Drinks International magazine chose Familia Torres “The World’s Most Admired Wine Brand.”
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In 2015 I had the honor of interviewing 5th generation, General Manager, Miguel Torres Maczassek, at the Torres headquarters in Penedes, Spain. In June, I will be back to interview him again, taste his portfolio of Spanish and Chilean wines, and catch up on Torres new initiatives in R&D on indigenous grapes, winemaking technology, and sustainability. Miguel has partnered with America’s Jackson Family Wines in a collaborative project “International Wineries for Climate Action.” The mission of this organization is to take collective action to decarbonize the global wine industry.
Chilean Cabs: A Closer Look
Cabernet Sauvignon is the most widely planted red variety in Chile, and the grape credited with putting Chile on the world stage. It accounts for approximately 99,336 acres planted to vine (just over 20% of all vineyard plantings in Chile). The productive core of Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon, however, is the Central Valley where three regions account for 97% of total planted surface area: O’Higgins, Maule, and the Metropolitan Region.
These large regions span the area west of the Andes west to the Pacific Coast, including all the different terroirs of Chile. Within the O’Higgins region, the Colchagua Valley covers two-thirds of the Cabernet Sauvignon planted, while the Maipo Valley boasts a historic core of vineyards in the Metropolitan Region. Colchagua lies about 80 miles south of Santiago. It represents a very important terroir for the modernization of the Chilean wine industry. It is crisscrossed by the Tinguinirica River which begins in a volcanic crater at the edge of the Andes and flows out into the central plain at a height of 2,000 feet. Maipo is one of Chile’s most notable regions, encompassing some of the country’s oldest and best-known vineyards. Maipo’s terroir is formed by the eponymous river and the Andes Mountain range.
Distinguishing the Cabs of Maipo and Colchagua
Simply specified, classical Cabernet Sauvignon from Maipo tends to deliver red and dark fruit with polished tannins accompanied by a juicy freshness. Colchagua Cabs tilt towards dark fruit, more structured tannins, and a moderate freshness, with the refinement of tannins varying according to sub-region.
Sample several of these great value Cabs. Let me know what you think of their value and quality.
Best of Tasting: 4 Chilean Cabs
#1 Tasting Selection
Miguel Torres Cordillera Cabernet Sauvignon 2018, Maipo Alto, Chile $20
Robert Parker, 91 Points
Tasting Notes: This full-bodied wine exhibits intense dark ruby color and an exquisite aroma of blue fruit. Additional aromas include blackberries and blueberries, hints of cedar and savory herbs, and were heightened with wonderfully smooth tannins and a long, lingering finish. This was a perfect pairing with our grilled steaks. Thank you Wendy and Brian Hatfield!
TerraNoble Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 Colchagua Valley, Chile $20
Wine Enthusiast, 90 Points
Tasting Notes: This medium to full-bodied wine features aromas of violets, roses, black cherry, and star anise. It has flavors of black fruit and savory spices and is enhanced by the fine-grained tannins.
Los Vascos Cromas Grande Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, 2018 Colchagua Valley, Chile $20
Wine Enthusiast, 90 Points
Tasting Notes: This medium-bodied wine was a delight. It has ripe, smooth tannins and features aromas of tobacco, red cherry, and fresh strawberry. 85% Cabernet, 10% Syrah, and 5% Carménère.
Echeverria Limited Edition Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Colchagua, Chile $26
Tastings.com, 90 Points
Tasting Notes: This delicious wine came in an obscenely heavy bottle. So much for a low carbon footprint! However, the wine had wonderful dark cherry, blackberry, savory herb, and tobacco aromas.
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