For anyone looking for a good-value red wine to raise a glass or two to celebrate Chile’s Independence Day on 18 September, here are some suggestions. For this tasting, we deliberately selected BBB Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon wines. (BBB is a much-loved Chilean term denoting “bueno, bonito y barato” – good, attractive and cheap). All six wines in our tasting are Reserva wines that are widely available in the supermarkets and retail at between 4,000 and 6,000 Chilean pesos.
Why Cabernet Sauvignon?
Cabernet Sauvignon wine is a firm favourite during the five-day meatfest known in Chile as Fiestas Patrias, when people throw caution to the winds and, in the name of commemorating the country’s independence, stuff themselves with choripanes (sausage sandwiches), empanadas (savoury pasties, often filled with meat), barbecued beef and other treats, often washed down by lashings and lashings of their preferred tipple.
In fact Cabernet Sauvignon is not just a favourite in Chile – it’s actually the most popular type of wine in the world. There are more Cabernet Sauvignon vines planted around the world than any other variety – 290,000 hectares in 2010. And, with its 40,000 hectares, Chile has the second largest area of Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards in the world, after France, the birthplace of this traditional grape.
Why does Chile have so much Cabernet Sauvignon?
Cabernet Sauvignon ripens well in Chile, producing wines with noticeable tannins, medium to full body and black fruit aromas and flavours, especially blackcurrants. Consumers around the world like the firm-structured, fruity style of Cabernet Sauvignon Chile produces, so it is able to export it in enormous quantities. So you can find BBB Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon wines (as well as some more premium ones) in wine stores, supermarkets or other outlets from countries as wide-ranging as China, Singapore and South Korea, the US and Canada, Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands.
The winning BBB Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon wines
Many thanks to our international tasting team, who heroically blind tasted both sausages and wines for our tasting, scoring each one according to preference. The ranking below reflects the overall score by the team.
WINNING WINE: Aresti Bellavista Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Curicó Valley, 13%, $4,590. 33 points
A pale ruby wine wine, dry, light-bodied and easy-drinking with middle-of-the road tannins, acidity and flavour.
SECOND PLACE: Miguel Torres Las Mulas Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Central Valley, 14%, Organic. $5,790 29 points
This is an organic wine made from 100% Cabenet Sauvignon grapes. It was aged for 6 months in French oak.
This wine is a deeper colour with a fruity nose. It’s another easy-drinking wine, nothing complex but nice and fruity.
THIRD PLACE: Falernia Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Elqui Valley, 14%, $4,739, 26 points
This wine from northern Chile was made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. 40% of the wine was aged in oak and the rest in stainless steel.
Easy-to-quaff red with some fruity aromas.
FOURTH PLACE: 4 Bodega Volcanes de Chile Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Rapel Valley, 14%, $4,490, 24 points
This wine was made from 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Syrah grapes and was aged in oak for 8-9 months.
A dry, fruity wine with a mineral hint. An uncomplicated quaffable red.
FIFTH PLACE: Viña Chocalan Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Maipo Valley, 14%, $5,490, 23 points
This wine was made from 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot and 5% Syrah, 40% of the wine was aged in used oak barrels for 6 months.
Interesting red fruit nose and the mouth is nice and fruity too. Another easy-drinker.
SIXTH PLACE: Veramonte Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Colchagua Valley, 14%, $5,990, 18 points
This wine was made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes and the wine was aged in neutral oak barrels for 8 months.
Pale-coloured with a medium, fruity nose. A bitter note on the palate and some red fruit like cranberries.