Chile in a Bottle

by Liz Caskey on July 20, 2009


Translated from my monthly column in Chilean publication, Placeres Magazine, Placeres Compartido

A common question I get from Readers and clients traveling in Chile is, “What Chilean wine do you recommend?” It’s a tricky one.  It would be too easy to simply recite a laundry list of the dozens of wine I love with whatever comes to mind (or drank last night).

But the question people usually want want to know, without directly saying it, is, “Which emblametic Chilean wines do you recommend?” Ahh, another question entirely. 

When I say emblematic, I am not talking about all those flashy wines: the “icon”, the ultra premium, the super grand cru, or whatever clever name the marketing department of a given winery comes up with. I am referring to terroir wines. Those wines that, besides being delicious to drink, have the capacity to transmit a place, a microclimate, a moment in history, the passion of the winemaker who creates them. 

I realized long ago that I fell in love with wine for its human story. I truly admire those who dedicate their lives to making these humble wines, only with the intention of truly expressing its true “self”. Wine captures all these intangible aspects and bottles them. A drinkable version of a country. This my short list of wines that encapsulate that. There are many more…like I said a short list! Enjoy.

AntiyalAlmaviva: Elegance, precision, and integration. This wine is like drinking a symphony that grows like a crescendo in your mouth. Every vintage is outstanding although some like 2007, will make history. Order now!

Amayna, full line: These wines have something that reminds me of a ballet dancer: delicate yet strong; long and flexible. You admire their beauty and at the same time know the years of hard work to get to the stage and put on the show.

Antiyal: Intense, robust, muscular. This wines speaks loudly of its warm climate and intense biodynamic work. The wine is truly the image of its “father”, winemaker Alvaro Espinoza.

Aquitania, complete line: How balanced, simple, understated, and very French are Aquitania’s wines! From their Sol de Sol Chardonnay to the last drop of the elegant Paul Bruno, tangy new rosé, and much awaited Pinot Noir. They also are full of grandeur—without ever flaunting it.

Casa Marín, Los Cipreses Sauvignon Blanc: Dazzling, concentrated, energizing like drinking an infusion of lemon that charges your batteries and makes your mouth water from tongue-tingling acidity. Yum. The flavor of this wine is so unique, and delicious, you will never ever forget this wine.

Clos Quebrada de Macul, Domus Aurea: This is an inky glassful of the microvalley east of Santiago, Quebrada de Macul, located in the Andean foothills. Herbaceous, spicy, with notes of red fruits, muscular tannins, and that noteworthy persistance of Chilean Cabernet. Ahh, I can almost hear the quiet rustling of the Eucalyptus tress in the breeze.

El Principal: There have not been any new vintages made since 2001 but this blend expresses the Alto Maipo like no other. Savoring it, mineral and Stony notes back up the fruit and meticulously draw a mental image of this mountain canyon where it is born.  

Kingston Family Vineyards, Bayo Oscuro: Nervious in its youth, focused, and super specific, like its winemaker, Byron Kosuge. Its aromas of black pepper, sage, and blackberries almost drive it to the point of being exotic—and erotic. Good date wine.

Neyén: The best of Carmenere married with Cabernet, this wine is sublime. Although I have drunk it and tasted it dozens of times, it always, always surprises me. It is a wine that reveals itself over the course of hours, or even days. It persists, lengthens, improves in the glass (or decanter), giving more and more of itself. Absolutely stunning.


Andrew Blech July 20, 2009 at 8:03 pm

Great stuff…couldn’t be more on with Terroir; it’s what makes wine what it is. Nice article. – Andy

tom hyland July 21, 2009 at 7:51 pm


Another excellent post and I couldn’t agree more with your selection of Casa Marin Cipreses Sauvignon Blanc, though I often prefer her Laurel bottling, if only because it is less agressive. But you’re certainly right- you can’t forget the taste of the Cipreses.

And I certainly agree with Amayna- one of the very best Chardonnays in Chile.

As for the reds you’ve listed, I can see that I have some catching up to do!

Liz Caskey July 21, 2009 at 10:38 pm

I like CM Laurel too–but less than Cipreses. It is all about your taste buds. They are both amazing wines. The acidity blows my mind.

Amayna also does rocking Pinot & Syrah, fyi.

And yeah, start drinking! This is my short list so once you are done, let me know and I can put up another batch. :)


jLillo August 26, 2009 at 4:04 am

dude try 1810 (wine) is one of the best of this year =D

Liz Caskey August 26, 2009 at 3:17 pm

Thanks for the recommendation. I have tried this wine–which vintage and varietal did you like? The list was only a sampling for the column which I had to pair down due to space.

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