New ranking lists the best Chilean wines

A journalist, a winemaker and a sommelier spent the year tasting and testing hundreds of Chilean wines to help consumers make wise purchases.

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In recent years Chile has confirmed its reputation as one of the world’s top wine nations. However, the sheer quantity of wines coming out of the long, thin country that lies stretched between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean means it can be difficult to choose which one to purchase.

But never fear. In order to lend consumers a helping hand during the all-important selection process, a group of local wine experts have created a definitive list of Chile’s best wines. Throughout the year, the team met up once a week to carry out blind tastings of more than 1,200 varietals from 200 vineyards.

On the judging panel was the editor of specialist wine magazine La CAV, Ana María Barahona; founding member of the Chilean Association of Sommeliers, Ricardo Grellet; and local winemaker and international assessor, Sergio Correa.

After the deliberation process, the expert judges selected a list of the top 10 and overall winners from 17 categories of wine varieties and blends, giving each contestant a score between 1 and 100.

“We were very satisfied with the results,” Barahona told La Tercera. “[All the winners] are very good wines that do a good job of representing their regions of origin.

“There is a stand-out Chardonnay from Limari, which is quite far from the region where most of the best Chardonnays are produced.

“We also had a tie for first place in the Sauvignon Blanc category, which says a lot about the quality of wines in this category – one of the three most emblematic varietals being exported from Chile at the moment.”

A special feature of the consumer guide is that the judges took the price of each drop into consideration when deciding on the overall score.

“In the case of the Cabernet Sauvignon, we tested wines ranging from US$6.75 (CLP3,500) to US$28.90 (CLP15,000). If there was a wine that was worth US$9.60 (CLP5,000) which scored the same as one that cost US$28.90 (CLP15,000), the first place would go to the cheaper wine because we recognize the relationship between price and quality, just as consumers do.”

Among the highlights from the Chilean wine guide, which is selling for US$19.30 (CLP10,000) in local bookstores, is the Gillmore Hacedor de Mundos 2007, the best Cabernet Sauvignon, which retails for US$23.10 (CLP12,000).

Another stand out is the Montes Limited Edition 2011, one of the equal-best Sauvignon Blancs, which sells for just US$9.60 (CLP5,000).