18 Chilean wines hold their own in European ranking

Chilean wines impress judges in a contest to find the best wines available in the U.K.

Chile’s sumptuous wines are gaining more attention as the country takes its rightful place among the world’s best wine producers. A top U.K. magazine gathered together 80 of the top British sommeliers to judge more than 1,800 wines and the Andean nation held its own against the European powerhouses, with vintages from the Colchagua and Casablanca valleys leading the way.

After the judges in the 2013 Sommelier Wine Awards whittled the list down by more than half, they went about creating a “Gold List” and 18 Chilean wines made the cut. The contest, which is put on by the British Imbibe Magazine, only ranks wines a restaurant in the country could feasibly have on its menu. That means only ones approved for importation in large enough quantities that they are available to just about anybody be entered into the competition.

The Gold List is considered a shortcut to finding a great wine menu for the most discerning restaurants in the U.K., and inclusion on it can mean a big boost to export sales. The wines are ranked for their value, versatility, overall taste and how well they pair with food — all categories Chilean reds and whites earn high marks for in contests around the world.

As the surging wine industry in the country gains more and more steam, the world’s top experts are taking note. Chile’s strong showing in Europe came just after the Errázuiz Winery dominated a vintage competition in Korea. However, the awards don’t mean Chile is sitting on its laurels.

According to the industry publication Wine Source Chile, the Imbibe judges found Chile’s medal haul respectable and only found fault with the fact that more of its wines weren’t entered in the contest. The publication said industry groups are working to make sure more options make their way into the sommeliers’ hands for next year’s contest.