^ Grapes are grown right across Chile, even in the Elqui Valley that borders the Atacama desert in the north
The reliability of Chilean wine has, in a strange way, been its Achilles heel. For some wine drinkers, Chile is the go-to country for great-value whites that won’t break the bank, but understandably, those who actually make it are keen for people to spend a little more and try the good stuff.
Chile was famously dubbed the ‘Volvo of the wine world’ a couple of decades ago – a jibe at the safe-but-unspectacular wines that were being pumped out at the turn of the millennium. But 20 years on and the Volvo has been replaced by something sleeker and sportier, and there are now some spectacular wines made in Chile.
Sauvignon Blanc is still the key white variety, with Chilean versions offering a happy medium between the full-throttle New Zealand style and the more subtle versions from the Loire Valley.
Luis Felipe Edwards’ Marea Sauvignon Blanc 2020 is an IWSC Silver winner and a classic example of Chilean Sauvignon, with its fresh, herbal nose and notes of citrus and gooseberry.
Further south in the Bío-Bío region, Riesling is a big success story. This notoriously tricky variety is right at home in Chile, and delivers this variety’s refreshing lime-zest character with touch of petrol and minerality. Right now, all sorts of experimentation is going on with the likes of Albariño, Semillon and Chenin Blanc.
The other big change with Chilean wine is the discovery of new vineyard areas. Remember, this is a 3,000-mile-long country with virtually every climate possible, and therefore well suited to growing almost any grape variety. Grapes are even grown in the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on Earth!
Here are the best Chilean Sauvignon Blancs from IWSC 2020.
Marea Sauvignon Blanc 2020
Luis Felipe Edwards
Clean, clear, and charming, with a fresh, herbal nose of citrus, asparagus, and enchanting gooseberry. This is a Sauvignon beautifully balanced and pure. 13.5% RRP £14.99 from Simply Wines Direct
Proudly Vegan Sauvignon Blanc 2020
A fresh, lemony nose with a lightly herbaceous character opens to a broad and complex palate of zesty grapefruit, gooseberry and wet stone elements. A vivacious wine displaying excellent typicity. 12.5% RRP £7.50 from Ocado
Trisquel Gran Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2020
Enticing grassy and nettle aromas, with green peas and lifted lemon. This is pure and herbaceous, with distinctive asparagus. Very classic, and fantastically fresh. 13% RRP £12.95 from SLurp
Organic Sauvignon Blanc 2019
Viña Cono Sur
Alluring asparagus and delicate spice, this Sauvignon Blanc shines with orange blossom, lemon sherbert, and lime cordial. There are gun flint notes and a mineral thread. Very approachable. 14% RRP £7.50 from Sainsburys
Gran Reserva Origen Sauvignon Blanc 2019
What a characterful Sauvignon! A perfume of smoky lanolin, grass, and thrilling gooseberry that shines through on the palate, with crisp lemon and sensual smoke. 13.5% n/a in UK