20 of the world's best Chilean reds

Wine news

Thu 26 Nov 2020

The pivotal moment for Chilean red wine came in a tasting in Berlin in 2004. Two wines from Chile – Viñedo Chadwick 2000, and Seña 2001 – were voted in first and second place ahead of some of the most heralded wines from France and Italy, including Château Latour and Lafite from Bordeaux, and Sassicaia from Tuscany.

Just like California after the Judgment of Paris tasting in 1976, the word was out, and Chile’s reputation was sealed. And since that day, the quality of Chilean wine has got better and better.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Chilean reds were dominated by Carmenère – incorrectly labelled as Merlot much of the time – but Syrah has since rightly become Chile’s premium red grape, thriving in the country’s coastal regions, and delivering beautiful, elegant reds studded with pepper, black fruit and spice.

Cabernet Sauvignon is the most-planted grape, however, with Syrah running a close second. It’s also taken the lion’s share of IWSC awards for Chile this year. IWSC Silver winner Viña Raggio offers the best of both worlds with its Gran Reserva Syrah-Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, a 50:50 blend of both grapes that offers notes of plum, smoked bacon, spiced pepper and a chocolatey finish.

Pinot Noir is going great guns, too, and is exceptional value for money compared with Pinots from Burgundy and California. There’s even been a mini-revival of the historic variety País, the original red grape planted for sacramental purposes – vines were first introduced to Chile by the conquistadores in the 16th century.

Eduardo Chadwick, the man behind those two winning wines at the 2004 Berlin tasting, sums up Chile’s position in the wine world: ‘There’s lots of work to do: more miles, more education. It’s still early days: this is just the beginning.’

Here's the pick of Chilean red wines from the IWSC 2020.

Duette Cabernet Sauvignon-Carmenère 2018iwsc-top-chilean-red-wines-1.png
Viña Indómita

Dark and brooding with layers of dark fruit, spice, and luscious leather. With aromas of cool blueberry and eucalyptus, it is seriously worth indulging in. Concentration and drive. 14.8% n/a in UK

Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2018iwsc-top-chilean-red-wines-2.png
Viña Cono Sur

Fresh and floral, it dances among cherry blossom and sweet, candied red fruit. With lively acidity and a touch of spice. 14.5% n/a in UK

LFE900 Single Vineyard 2016iwsc-top-chilean-red-wines-3.png
Luis Felipe Edwards

Concentrated dark cherry, plum raspberry, cedar and graphite. Resinous and full of concentration, zippy acidity and balanced by judicious oak. Excellent length with a coffee backbone. Fantastically refined. 14.5% RRP £16.99 from Majestic

Quatro 2019iwsc-top-chilean-red-wines-4.png

A bold nose of ripe black cherry and fine floral notes give way to forest fruits and liquorice on a smooth, svelte palate with sophisticated oak integration. Voluptuous and very elegant. 14% RRP £11 from Vinello

Milla Cala 2015iwsc-top-chilean-red-wines-5.png
VIK Winery

Evolved and complex: dark fruits, strawberry, rich oak, sweet spice and creamy milk chocolate. Dark chocolate cherry on the long finish. The mouthfeel is resinous and full with tannins well-integrated. Intense. 13.9% RRP £32 from Majestic

Reserva Especial Pinot Noir 2018iwsc-top-chilean-red-wines-6.png
Viña Cono Sur

Perfumed and pure, weaving through soft summer fruit, ripe cherries, and aromatic cherry blossom. It constantly surprises with mint, thyme and a touch of savoury. 14% RRP £8 enquire at Appy Shop

Amalia Grand Cru 2015iwsc-top-chilean-red-wines-7.png
Château Los Boldos

Evolving nose of rich, dark fruit into coffee, influenced by oak. Lovely complexity of fruit with pencil notes. Dense palate with fine, chewy tannins. Moreish, rich and fruity. 14.5% n/a in UK

Frontera Merlot 2019iwsc-top-chilean-red-wines-8.png
Concha y Toro

Chocolate, cherry, coffee and subtle herbaceous notes on the nose; supple and silky palate; soft well-integrated tannins with moreish stalkiness, leafy cassis and blueberries. Juicy, ripe and beautifully crafted. 12% n/a in UK

Marques de Casa Concha Syrah 2018iwsc-top-chilean-red-wines-9.png
Concha y Toro

Rounded and fresh, displaying red fruits, and black pudding. Big, bright, and bold. 14.8% RRP £13 from Tesco

Guardian Reserva Carignan 2018iwsc-top-chilean-red-wines-10.png

Rose, lilac, lavender serenade, complemented by sour cherry, raspberries and strawberries. Supple palate; silky with fresh crunchy acidity, savoury garrigue and dark fruit flavours. Weighty with integrated tannins. Complex, curious and beguiling. 14% RRP £11 from Majestic

Pionero Merlot 2019iwsc-top-chilean-red-wines-11.png

A bouquet of orange peel and sweet spice, showcasing succulent dark cherry, cassis, and juicy plum. Poised and layered, with a real freshness, and a tease of vanilla. 13% RRP £9.50 from 
Hic Wine Merchants 

The Best Pinot Noir 2019iwsc-top-chilean-red-wines-12.png

Behind the sensual smoke and sweet cedar smoke lingers kirsch and confected cherry. This is a Pinot: floral and fresh, yet with suggestively savoury undertones of untouched leather. 14% RRP £8.50 from Morrisons

Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2018iwsc-top-chilean-red-wines-13.png
Viña Chocalán

A lovely rhubarb note comes forward with a pleasing herbal character on the nose. The palate is fresh and inviting with well-structured tannins and balanced complexity. Delicious and very well-executed. 14% n/a in UK

Bicicleta Malbec 2019iwsc-top-chilean-red-wines-14.png
Viña Cono Sur

A plummy nose leads into moreish notes of damson and mulberry on the mid-palate with sweet spice and grippy tannins offering desirable complexity. Rich, sensual and warming; a delectable wine. 13.5% RRP £7.50 from Morrisons

Origen Assemblage II Carmenère-Merlot-Nebbiolo 2017iwsc-top-chilean-red-wines-15.png
Viña Del Pedregal

Fun and floral, with lots of perfume and violets. This is big, brimming with jammy dark fruit and a touch of game. Exquisite. 14% n/a in UK

La Capitana Cabernet Franc 2019iwsc-top-chilean-red-wines-16.png
Viña la Rosa

Herbal cassis, pencil shavings, herbal, earthy, gentle and long; delicately textured with wonderful tannic structure; the finish is fresh. 14% n/a in UK

Pointer Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2017iwsc-top-chilean-red-wines-17.png
Viña Punti Ferrer

Restrained elegant nose of cassis, coffee and tobacco. The palate is more concentrated but supple, lifted and fresh with chewy fine rich tannins. Good length and a beautifully crisp finish. 14.5% n/a in UK

Gran Reserva Syrah-Cabernet Sauvignon 2017iwsc-top-chilean-red-wines-18.png
Viña Raggio

Dark plum and savoury smoked bacon, blackberry, spiced pepper compote; meaty black olive and fine furry tannins; cool notes, tight structure and long length followed by milk chocolate, peppered finish. 14% n/a in UK

Catalina 2017iwsc-top-chilean-red-wines-19.png
Viña Santa Ema

Richly dark fruited nose, lashings of oak and a good fresh finish. Tangy acidity; lifted, juicy with dark fruit and chicory on the finish. Resinous bell pepper compliments rich tannins. 14% n/a in UK

Private Cabernet Sauvignon-Syrah-Carmenere 2018iwsc-top-chilean-red-wines-20.png
Viña Valle Secreto

Meaty Bovril nose, complimented by coffee, dark chocolate and spicy dark berries. Fruit is dense on the palate, taut and febrile, giving a youthful impression. Highly concentrated, lifted by fresh acidity. 14.5% n/a in UK

View more Chilean wine recommedations from IWSC:

IWSC winners at Love Wine Love Chile