Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile: Quality and Value

Chile produces more Cabernet Sauvignon than any other varietal. With extensive plantings, Cabernet can be found in a variety of sites and terroirs from the foothills of the Andes through the central valley and further west.  Some of the wine made from these vineyards is of world class quality, while a large amount also makes its way into inexpensive bulk wine and entry level bottled wine. In this article, we review Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon at several price points, although most fall in the $20-25 range.  As a group, wines in this range offer delicious drinking and excellent value. For more in depth coverage of Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon, read our report on Chile’s Premium Wine Revolution.

Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon exhibits the characteristics of the varietal—violet and lead pencil aromas and a firmly structured palate of cassis fruit with hints of black tea.   In addition, it’s not unusual to find touches of mint or sage on the nose of a Chilean Cabernet, and earth and tobacco notes on the palate.  Since many Cabernets have up to 15 percent of other varietals, the aromas and flavors of the wine can also take on some of the characteristics of the blending grapes.  For wines seeing extended time in oak, one also finds elements of spicy, toasted oak and sometimes dark cocoa.

The Wines

Echeverria 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Limited Edition Valle de Maipo ($25) 89 Somewhat reticent aromas of dark red fruit and toasty oak followed by a smooth entry. The palate is similarly subtly flavored with a hint of earthiness but balanced and good, easy drinking. A blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Syrah and 5% Carmenere from Chada, Paine, in Maipo at 1330m elevation and planted on alluvial loam soils. 14% alc.  Importer: T. Edward Wines

Los Vascos 2018 Cromas Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon Valle de Colchagua (Peralillo DO) ($22) 91  The Cromas Gran Reserva reveals fresh red fruit on the nose. Red and black fruit flavors with touches of spicy oak show on a well-balanced palate finishing with lingering notes of cassis on a medium long finish. All told, a very pleasant, easy drinking wine. A blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Syrah and 5% Carmenere from the Peralillo DO located in the Peralillo DO in the far west of the Colchagua Valley at 140m elevation and 40km from the Pacific. The soils are maicillo gravel derived from granite. The winemaker is Maximiliano Correa. 14.5% alc Importer: Taub Family Selections

Maquis 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Gran Reserva Colchagua Valley (Palmilla DO) ($20) 89  Medium dark red. Shows a spicy nose with black olive notes. The palate reveals some cassis fruit, but it’s dominated by earthy/herbal notes. Finishes dry with a medium long finish. Doesn’t come up to the quality level of past vintages. 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc, 3% Carmenere, and 1% Petit Verdot sourced from the Palmilla DO where the Tinguinirica and Chimbarongo rivers meet.  Importer: Global Vineyards

Miguel Torres 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Cordillera de Los Andes Reserva Especial Valle del Maipo ($20) 92  Medium dark red. The Cordillera de Los Andes Cabernet is an exceptional value and a delicious wine. There’s fragrant red currants and toasty oak on the nose with a light spicy black pepper note. The palate is a bit angular but sweet fruit flavors mimic the aromas and offer very pleasant drinking. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Parcela Coluvión in the Maipo Andes from vines planted in 1992 on the edge of the Pirque DO at 792m elevation on colluvial soils. 14% alc.  Importer: Empson USA

Peñalolen 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Maipo Valley ($20) 91  Almost opaque in color, the Peñalolen Cabernet is distinct in its herbaceousness and cocoa and cherry aromas and flavors. Robust tannins suggest pairing this wine with cuisine that needs a firm counterpoint. All told, a respectable wine for the price. 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Petit Verdot from the Viña Quebrada de Macul. 14.5% alc.  Importer: Global Vineyard

TerraNoble 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Gran Reserva Valle de Colchagua ($20) 91 Medium dark red in color with a fruit driven, dark berry nose. Blackberry compote flavors are complicated by light herbal notes, and the texture is silky, although the tannins remain dry. A nicely balanced wine that drinks very well right now and is an excellent value.  A 100% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced 70% from the Los Lingues DO and 30% from the Marchigüe DO. 14% alc. Importer: Winebow

Viña Aquitania 2017 Lazuli Cabernet Sauvignon Valle del Maipo (Peñalolén) ($45) 93  Medium dark red. Subtle, herbal-inflected, red fruited nose. A nicely polished wine, Bordelaise in style with dark red fruit accompanied by cedar and pencil shavings on a medium weight palate. Well balanced and finishes with good length. Sourced from the commune of Peñalolén at 700m elevation with limestone-clay soils.  Matured 16 months in 33% new French oak barriques. 14.5% alc. Viña Aquitania is a partnership of Paul Pontalier and Bruno Prats of Bordeaux, Ghislain de Montgolfier of Champagne, and Chilean winemaker Felipe de Solminihac.  Importer: Vine Connections

Viña Quebrada de Macul 2017 Alba de Domus Cabernet Sauvignon Maipo Valley ($40) 91 The Alba de Domus bears a resemblance to its more expensive Domus Aurea sibling in its eucalyptus/minty red fruited aromas. It offers a juicy attack and good balance with dark cassis and cocoa-accented cherry flavors on the palate. Round tannins make this well priced wine accessible now. A blend of 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc, 17% Petit Verdot, and 10% Merlot. 14.9% alc.  Viña Quebrada de Macul 2018 Domus Aurea Cabernet Sauvignon Maipo Valley ($70) 95 The 2018 Domus Aurea Cabernet is at least the equal of earlier vintages. There’s a distinctly herbal character to the wine, beginning with the mint inflected nose. But there’s also rich cassis and blackberry fruit on a rich and elegant palate. An excellent Chilean Cab. 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot and 5% Merlot from the Viña Quebrada de Macul. 14.9% alc. Importer: Global Vineyard Importers

Viña Siegel 2019 San Elias Cabernet Sauvignon Valle Central ($12) 89  San Elias is Viña Siegel’s entry-level label, but we find this Cabernet punches above its (price) weight. It reveals red fruit on the nose and palate with nice herbal accents, good acidity, round tannins, and a long flavorful finish. An intriguing wine, especially given the price. We highly recommend this bargain-priced wine. Fermented in stainless steel; 15% of the wine was aged 3 months in oak. 13.5% alc. Viña Siegel 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Special Reserve Colchagua Valley ($16) 90  Medium dark red. The Special Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon offers good value in an inexpensive Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s fresh and roundly textured with good balancing acidity and medium flavor density. Herbal, forest floor notes tend to dominate somewhat more subtle fruit, but overall the wine is pleasant, easy drinking with a lingering freshness. Aged in French oak 10-12 months. 14% alc. Viña Siegel 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Los Lingues Single Vineyard Colchagua Valley ($30) 92+  The 2017 vintage of the Los Lingues Cabernet Sauvignon is in every respect the equal of the 2016, which we rated highly. It begins with smoky, dark fruited nose and proceeds to a round, silky, well balanced palate of mineral-inflected, herbal-tinged dark cassis. There’s a sense of refinement and balance to this wine. 14.5% alc.  Importer: Kysela Pere et Fils

 

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