18 outstanding Chilean Cabernet Sauvignons from £12 to over £100

We bring you some of the finest Cabernet Sauvignons Chile has to offer following a series of extensive tastings over the past 12 months.

The barrel cellar at Vina Almaviva in Chile’s Puente Alto

Taking in Cabernets from £12 to over £100, this snapshot covers a broad range of prices, save for the entry-point of Chilean reds, which can of course reach below £5 in UK retailers. In each case, these Cabernet-dominant red wines have been selected following a tasting this year, having been supplied to myself either via Wines of Chile – the association for the country’s top producers – or, in certain cases, directly from the winemakers.

While Chile produces many great wines from grapes other than Cabernet Sauvignon, it is this single variety that is responsible for the country’s finest expressions, with such wines rightly earning global recognition for their combination of intense, ripe blackcurrant fruit, herbal notes, creamy oak and fine-grained, dense tannins. This is a style of wine that can provide plenty of powerful refreshment in its youth, or a lovely, layered drink as its ages.

Furthermore, some of the country’s top expressions from the Andean foothills of the Maipo Valley are becoming staples for discerning fine wine collectors, who have been enticed by the concentrated cassis character of top-end Chilean Cabernets on release, along with their cellaring potential – the great reds of this nation now have at least a 20-year record of older vintages to prove their ability to improve with age.

Viña Requingua, Toro de Piedra, Grand Reserve, Colchagua

  • Vintage: 2018
  • Region: Colchagua Costa
  • Grape variety: Cabernet Sauvignon
  • ABV: 14% Closure type: Natural cork
  • Price: £13

Tasting: Roasted coffee, vanilla and ripe red and black fruits dominate the nose of this wine. The palate is medium-weight with some juicy red and dark cherry, blackcurrant and roasted coffee notes, with a nice lift on the finish. This is not too heavy for a Cabernet, with a surprising amount of red fruit mixed in with some of the darker berry notes. A good, likeable, relatively-affordable Cabernet Sauvignon.

Score: 91

Tarapacá Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon

 

  • Vintage: 2018
  • Region: Maipo
  • Grape variety: Cabernet Sauvignon
  • ABV: 14%
  • Closure type: Natural cork
  • Price: £15

Tasting notes: An open, ripe cassis character dominates the nose, with a hint of tobacco leaf and cedar wood. The palate has lots of blackcurrant, and cedar wood, with touch of cigar box, a hint of tobacco leaf, and masses of dense, rather dry tannin, which coat the mouth. The core of fruit is ripe, fine, intense, pure, persistent and high quality blackcurrant. While the fruit is delicious, the structure is a touch drying.

Score: 91

Château Los Boldos, Grand Clos

  • Vintage: 2017
  • Region: Alto Cachapoal
  • Grape variety: Cabernet Sauvignon
  • ABV: 14.5%
  • Closure type: Natural cork
  • Price: £20

Tasting notes: A wine with serious aromatics from dark berry fruit to cigar box, toast and tobacco. It has a delicious palate, with masses of cassis, and pure dark intense blackcurrant, with a touch of sweet black cherry too, then fine toast and cigar box-wood influence, with a note of cedar on the finish. It has fine high but ripe tannin, making it chewy but not drying, with persistence too. A serious structured smoky, cedary, cassis Cabernet at a reasonable price.

Score: 93

Maquis, Gran Reserva, Cabernet Sauvignon

  • Vintage: 2015
  • Region: Colchagua
  • Grape variety: 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc, 4% Carmenère, 3% Petit Verdot
  • ABV: 13.5%
  • Closure type: Natural cork
  • Price: £18

Tasting notes: A medium ruby appearance with a brick-red rim suggests a wine with a touch of bottle age. This wine has a lovely, open, expressive nose that is just starting to show some signs of development with stewed fruit along with plenty of sweet red berries and blackcurrant too, and a touch of tobacco leaf. However, the palate seems more youthful and quite tight, with firm but fine grippy tannins, a lovely cigar box character, some blackcurrant notes, a touch of stewed black cherry, along with black-pepper spice.

Score: 93

Sutil Acrux Ensamblaje

  • Vintage: 2017
  • Region: Colchagua
  • Grape variety: 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Cabernet Franc, 17% Malbec, 11% Carmenère, 8% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot
  • ABV: 14%
  • Closure type: Natural cork
  • Price: £35

Tasting notes: An inviting ripe creamy nose with a wonderful range of pure berry fruit, from intense cassis to fresh raspberry, even a touch of plum and pepper. In the mouth, there is plenty of fleshy fruit, from black cherry to raspberry, but also some bright plums, along with pepper and a touch of creamy vanilla. The finish is mouth-watering and dry with high tannins, and there’s a touch of cedar as the wine fades, which it does slowly. This is a serious, fleshy, layered fine wine that’s just starting to soften and open up.

Score: 93+

Valdivieso Caballo Loco Number 18

  • Vintage: NV
  • Region: Central Valley
  • Grape variety: Around 45% Cabernet Sauvignon. The rest is a blend of Carmenère, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, Petit Verdot, Carignan and Pinot Noir, among others
  • ABV: 14%
  • Closure type: Natural cork
  • Price: £40

Tasting notes: The appearance shows some age, with brick red notes at rim. It has a lovely inviting complex nose with cedar, cigar box, stewed red fruits and some bright intense blackcurrant, with touch of vanilla and creamy coffee mixed in. The palate is soft, juicy, layered and delicious, with blackcurrant, sweet strawberry, and then fleshy black cherry too, pepper, vanilla, cedar, and roasted coffee beans. It has a fine mouth-coating tannin to give a dry finish after the layers of ripe fruit, some of which shows a touch of age. A lovely, complex, fascinating wine.

Score: 94

De Martino Single Vineyard La Cancha

  • Vintage: 2017
  • Region: Maipo
  • Grape variety: Cabernet Sauvignon
  • ABV: 13%
  • Closure type: natural cork
  • Price: £25-£30

Tasting notes: Bright, juicy, fruity, appealing nose with blueberry, raspberry and a touch of blackcurrant. In the mouth, this has a lovely mix of red and black currant fruit, with a fine tannic grip, medium weight and a long, lifted, dry, fresh finish making this a very drinkable Cabernet. It seems classic in style, with grip and acid structure more like claret, but with riper and sweeter red and dark fruit at it core, and just a touch of stewed fruit and cedar as the wine begins to develop. There are no sweet oak flavours in evidence. This is the antithesis of a concentrated chocolate and vanilla-scented Chilean cab, and lovely for it. In short, it’s deliciously old-school.

Score: 92+

Marques de Casa Concha, Etiqueta Negra, Puente Alto, Cabernet Sauvignon

  • Vintage: 2016
  • Region: Puente Alto, Maipo
  • Grape variety: Cabernet Sauvignon
  • ABV: 13.5%
  • Closure type: Natural cork
  • Price: £17

Tasting notes: An inviting, intense nose with sweet ripe black cherry and cassis, some chocolate and creamy coffee, and just a touch of stewed fruit and cigar box character suggesting the beginning of some development. The palate is delicious, smooth, intense, with plenty of fine pure dark berry and cherry fruit, a nice lift on the finish, with a note of orange peel, just a touch of warmth, and delicious, lingering notes of cigar box and cedar, with fine-grained, ripe, high, dry tannin. An impressive and structured wine for the price, plus a fantastic entry-point for Puente Alto Cabernet Sauvignon.

Score: 93

Vik Milla Cala

  • Vintage: 2016
  • Region: Peumo, Cachapoal
  • Grape variety: 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Carmenère, 11% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 1% Syrah
  • ABV: 14%
  • Closure type: Natural cork
  • Price: £50

Tasting notes: This has aromatics ranging from ripe raspberry, there’s even a touch of jam, to cassis and cedar. It is fantastic in the mouth, with sweet ripe raspberry, intense, pure blackcurrant, lots of cedar and dry smoky cigar box characters, and it finishes with a fine-grained grip, a touch of chalk, a hint of sweet tobacco leaf and lingering ripe red fruits.

Score: 94

Tarapacá Gran Reserva, Cabernet Sauvignon

  • Vintage: 2018
  • Region: Maipo
  • Grape variety: Cabernet Sauvignon
  • ABV: 14%
  • Closure type: Natural cork
  • Price: £30

Tasting notes: Intense sweet ripe nose of blackcurrant with some red jammy notes too, and an attractive note of cedar. The palate is intense with pure, concentrated blackcurrant and some sweet fleshy black cherry, along with dense, dry but ripe tannin, some cedar, a touch of toast, then tobacco leaf, and a long, fine gently chewy finish, with some lift. This is a serious wine, with impressive pure black fruit and a finely built structure. It’s also youthful, persistent, and, in short, very good.

Score: 93+

Santa Rita, Floresta, Cabernet Sauvignon

  • Vintage: 2018
  • Region: Maipo
  • Grape variety: Cabernet Sauvignon
  • ABV: 14.3%
  • Closure type: Natural cork
  • Price: £25

Tasting notes: An open youthful nose with ripe red fruit, a touch of dried mint and concentrated cassis aromas. Delicious in the mouth, with lovely intensity, structure, but also some restraint to this, with a fine dry tannin, smoky cedar wood, creamy coffee, and some nice lift, despite all the cassis fruit and sweet black cherry at its core. Fine, with time to go, this is pure, powerfully-flavoured Cabernet Sauvignon, but not sweet and heavy. Very impressive for the price.

Score: 94

Carmen Delanz, Alto Jahuel

  • Vintage: 2018
  • Region: Alto Jahuel, Maipo
  • Grape variety: 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot, 3% Petite Sirah
  • ABV: 13.5%
  • Closure type: Natural cork
  • Price: £45

Tasting notes: An inviting, ripe open nose with pure, intense cassis and then some sweet red fruit, a touch of jam, and creamy vanilla in the background. The palate is very fine, with medium weight soft fleshy red and dark fruits, from quite concentrated blackcurrant to soft ripe cherry and strawberry, with some cream, vanilla, and then fine grained high tannin giving a lovely dry finish. This is a long, mouthwatering and intense, layered wine. It is both very good and distinctive.

Score: 94

Cono Sur, Silencio, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chile, Valle del Maipo

  • Vintage: 2015
  • Region: Maipo Andes
  • Grape variety: Cabernet Sauvignon
  • ABV: 14.5%
  • Closure type: Natural cork
  • Price: £40

Tasting notes: This top end Cabernet expression from Cono Sur is a step up from the producer’s already excellent 20 Barrels ‘Pirque Viejo’ expression, with Silencio using grapes from the best sites across the Maipo Andes, where Cono Sur, and its parent company, Concha y Toro have a plenty of vineyards. Only made in great vintages, Silencio is seen as a flagship for Cono Sur, and remains true to this producer’s wine style, which tends to ver towards something fresh in character, and hence this wine has plenty of bright red fruit, along with the usual concentrated cassis character of Maipo Cabernet, and attractive vanilla and cigar box barrel influence from 22 months in new French oak.

Score: 94

Le Petit Clos, Clos Apalta

  • Vintage: 2017
  • Region: Apalta, Colchagua
  • Grape variety: 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Carménère, 28% Merlot, and 2%Petit Verdot
  • ABV: 14.5%
  • Closure type: Natural cork
  • Price: £50
  • Notes: Biodynamic

Tasting notes: A deep ruby appearance, and a lovely inviting nose with ripe but bright pure berry fruit, plenty of red cherry, some plums, then lovely pure blackcurrant too with some background cedar and chocolate. In the mouth, this is dense, youthful, powerful and chewy, with pure dark berry fruit, some black pepper spice and a lovely finish with cedar, a dry grip, and a touch of lifted fresh cherry stone and plum too.

Score: 94+

Los Vascos, Le Dix

  • Vintage: 2016
  • Region: Colchagua
  • Grape variety: 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Syrah, 5% Carmenère, 5% Cabernet Franc
  • ABV: 14%
  • Closure type: Natural cork
  • Price: £45

Tasting notes: An attractive nose with a mix of red and dark berry fruits, notably blackcurrant, with cedar wood notes, and generally a lifted, fresh and youthful seeming character for the age – it’s already four years old. In the mouth, this is very fine, classic, quite claret-like Cabernet blend, with cigar box notes, fine tannin, and a gentle fruit feel, with soft raspberry and blackcurrant characters dominating. While there are no crunchy greens, there is a hint of dried rosemary, and nice balanced fresh berry fruit – nothing overripe, sweet or heavy here. It finishes with freshness, and a lingering cigar box character. It’s a delicious wine in a restrained style by Chilean standards.

Score: 94+

Santa Rita, Casa Real, Reserva Especial, Cabernet Sauvignon, Valle del Maipo

  • Vintage: 2017
  • Region: Alto Jahuel, Maipo Andes
  • Grape variety: Cabernet Sauvignon
  • ABV: 14%
  • Closure type: Natural cork
  • Price: £50

Tasting: If you love the great Cabernet Sauvignons formed in the free-draining soils of the Maipo’s Andean foothills, then Casa Real should be on your list. Using grapes from very old vines in the Alto Jahuel sub region of the Maipo Andes, this is a dense wine with plenty of classic blackcurrant Cabernet character, along with lovely notes of cigar box and graphite, finishing with a touch of raspberry and fine, mouth-coating tannins. While this is a delicious drop now, this is proven to be a very long-lived wine that rewards cellaring.

Score: 95

Viña Don Melchor, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chile, Valle del Maipo

 

  • Vintage: 2018
  • Region: Puente Alto, Maipo Andes
  • Grape variety: Cabernet Sauvignon
  • ABV: 14.5%
  • Closure type: Natural cork
  • Price: £100

Tasting: Concha y Toro’s ultimate Cabernet expression, and Chile’s pioneering ‘icon’ wine, just keeps on getting better, with the latest release from 2018 building on an already exceptional 2017 vintage, which was the 30th in the brand’s history. In terms of style, this is a concentrated but balanced Cabernet, with the 2018 featuring plenty of youthful characters, from creamy and toasty oak, to pure intense blackcurrant fruit, but also an appealing hint of dried mint and a plum-like brightness, which bring a lift to the finish, along with the lingering, dry, fine, ripe tannins.

Score: 95+

Viña Almaviva

 

  • Vintage: 2018
  • Region: Puente Alto, Maipo Andes
  • Grape variety: 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Carmenère, 6% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot
  • ABV: 14%
  • Closure type: Natural cork
  • Price: £130

Ranking up there with the great Bordeaux blends of the world, Almaviva is a wine that’s collectible whether or not you love top Chilean Cabernets. Uniting the know-how and financial might of both Concha y Toro and Château Mouton Rothschild, the standalone Viña Almaviva estate is devoted to producing fine red wine based on Cabernet, but incorporating other Bordeaux grapes, and Chile’s emblematic Carmenère. It’s a delicious, layered, age-worthy wine, with, in its youth, plenty of creamy oak, red and black berry fruit, and a hint of spice too. Smooth, but balanced, with plenty of ripe tannins, this is a wine that carries the hallmarks of great Maipo Cabernet and French winemaking flair.

Score: 96+

And finally…

This report doesn’t include the great Cabernets from the Errázuriz stable of wines, which include the wonderful Aconcagua Valley reds under the Don Maximiano Founder’s Reserve label, or the powerful Puente Alto expression bottled as Viñedo Chadwick. That’s simply because these wines were not submitted to the drinks business for sampling this year.

Read more

HERE ARE EIGHT OF CHILE’S BEST CARMENÈRE WINES

One Response to “18 outstanding Chilean Cabernet Sauvignons from £12 to over £100”

  1. Héctor Torres says:

    brilliant report! This confirms once again that the best red wines from Chile are: Cabernet Sauvignon based and the best origin by far is Alto Maipo

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