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Copyright © 2015
Forkmedia LLC

by Fred McMillin
for March 2000


Chilean, Anyone?



"Chile has established a worldwide reputation over the last decade for popular, bargain-priced varietal wines, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon, with Merlot doing well, also."

...Wine Spectator


The Question

You're buying a $10 wine for dinner tonight. Should you pick up a Chilean, or an equally-priced competitor from California, or even Argentina? To get an idea, my panel tasted blind eight Chileans with a few outsiders sprinkled among them. Here are the best bottles.

Rank Source Score Price Vintage The Wine
9th Chile 75 $10 '98 Merlot, Montes, TGIC Importer
8th Chile 75.5 $8 '98 Merlot, Caliterra (R. Mondavi)
7th Calif. 76 $10 '93 Merlot, J. Lohr
6th Chile 76.5 $10 '98 Chardonnay, Montes, TGIC
5th Calif. 77 $10 '96 Cabernet Sauvignon, Tessera (Seagram)
4th Chile 77.2 $9 '97 Cabernet Sauvignon, Calina, (Kendall-Jackson)
3rd Calif. 77.4 $8 '95 Merlot, Eagle Peak, Fetzer
2nd Chile 77.5 $10 '96 Cabernet Sauvignon, Montes, TGIC
1st Argtn 81 $9.5 '95 Cabernet, Oak Cask, Trapiche (Wildman)


a) The bottles were all wrapped, so the panel had no indication of which were from Chile. Yet, the ratings of that country's wines were remarkably similar.

b) Since neither the outsiders nor the Chileans showed any clear superiority, tonight I'm buying whichever one I can find on sale.


Headstart - It's ironic that the California wine industry is more advanced than the Chilean. How much earlier did Spanish missionaries bring the vine to Chile than they did to the Golden State? Over two hundred years!!


This page created March 2000