A Chilean Geography Lesson… With Wine


It must be interesting to live in a country where wine is such a big part of your culture that in huge celebrations (a holiday, a birthday, a wedding, or what have you), there is a go-to brand for sparkling wine.

Such is the case of Valdivieso in Chile.

Before I visited the country, my notion of Valdivieso is that it’s all about the reds. This is because I’ve been accustomed to thinking of sparkling wines from Spain, Italy, Germany, and of course, France.

In Chile, however, Valdivieso is closely associated with sparkling wines.

The reason for this goes way back. See, Don Alberto Valdivieso founded the vineyard in 1879 with the purpose of making sparkling wines, in effect being the first sparkling wine vineyard in Latin America.

Their history is reflected on the quality of the sparkling wines they produce.


Sparkling Line: Blanc de Blancs, Brut, and Brut Nature 

Take for instance their best seller, the Brut. The acidity reminds you of the sparkling wine greats, rounded by citrus fruits and floral notes. Bready, light, and perfect as an aperitif, it’s a great peg for a sparkling wine. You don’t need to break the bank to buy one too!

If you’re feeling a touch fancy, try their Blanc de Blancs, made from 100% Chardonnay (blanc = white, in the case of wine, white grapes, which is what Chardonnay is). I’ve always referred to a BdB as a food friendly sparkling wine… It has less acidity than your standard mixed Bruts. The Valdivieso Blanc de Blancs is no exception: richer, more complex, has notes of ripe fruits, and begs to be paired with food.

For those looking to try something different, go for the Brut Nature. Brut Nature is the driest (least sweet) classification of sparkling wines. Most bottles of Brut Nature are guaranteed to make your mouth pucker, but if done correctly, it is simply refreshing. This wine is very citrusy, yet creamy on the texture. Excellent balance of two seemingly opposing characteristics. *

cab fr valdi

One of the yummiest Cabernet Francs I’ve tried!

This is not to say that Valdivieso is all about the sparkling wines. I took home one of the best Cabernet Francs I’ve ever had. Cabernet Franc is a tricky grape to work with. Most of the time, the grape is used as a blend for Bordeaux classics (Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot), because if done wrong, it ends up being too tart. The one seen here is rich, elegant, and has none of the harsh acids one would expect from a 100% Cabernet Franc.

valdivieso reds

Go Loco with Caballo Loco!

Their Caballo Loco line (all reds) is a good range to explore, and gives you an understanding of Chilean wine geography. Caballo Loco translates to “Crazy Horse”, which is a reflection of the characteristic of the winemaker.

Don’t get me wrong, he doesn’t whinny or buck. Apparently, he is an immensely energetic (horse) genius (crazy), hence the name.

Anyway, each wine from the range is labeled by grape, harvested from regions in Chile that they are best produced. This not only guarantees good wine, but it also gives you an idea of the best regions in terms of geography for Chilean reds. Try the Malbec from Sagrada Familia, Cabernet Sauvignon from Maipo, the Carmenere from Apalta, and the Shiraz from Limari.

So whether you’re looking to pop a bubbly or go loco with a fabulous red, give Valdivieso a try and let me know what you think. Cheers!

*Cheat Sheet: Oftentimes, wine critics look for a good balance in a wine. You don’t want a characteristic to dominate. For instance, a wine shouldn’t be too fruity. Or jammy. Or woody. There has to be a different element to add another dimension.

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