There are good reasons why Chardonnay is among the world’s favourite white wine varieties: it can produce generous amounts of grapes, grow well in different types of soil and climate, and be made into many styles of wine. So it’s hardly surprising that it’s the world’s second most-planted white vinifera grape variety and fifth most-planted overall. In fact, there are few wine-producing countries that do not have at least some Chardonnay planted and, in regions like California and Burgundy, it’s the main white variety. Here in Chile, it’s the second most-planted white variety (after Sauvignon Blanc) and 11,000 hectares or 30% of all the white wine grape varieties planted here in 2018 were Chardonnay.

Chilean Sauvignon Blanc

What words best describe Chardonnay?

  • Lean, with taut acidity and subtle aromas of green apples and citrus fruit along with wet stones?
  • Full-bodied and creamy with flavours like peaches, apricots, toast and butterscotch?
  • Dull, everyday white wine with no particular smell?
  • Still or sparkling wine?

The answer is it can be all of these things. This is such a versatile variety that it’s difficult to generalize.  It varies greatly depending on where and how it’s grown and what the winemaker decides to do with it.

So how is Chardonnay wine affected by where it comes from?

When grown in a cooler climate, Chardonnay tends to have high acidity, lean body and green and citrus fruit aromas (apples, pears, lemons, limes), although this is not an especially aromatic grape.  Here in Chile and over the Andes in Argentina, you’ll find lots of examples of Chardonnay from cooler locations at altitude or near the coast which have these characteristics.

Chardonnay wines that come from a warmer climate conditions often have a more stone fruit profile, like peaches, apricots and quince, and maybe even melon. This riper, sunkissed fruit tends to be higher in sugar too, which means more body and higher alcohol. When the grapes are very ripe, the acidity will also be lower so they lack that taut, sharp acidity you can find in cooler-climate wines. However, some winemakers add tartaric acid to correct the acidity level. Chilean wines labelled Central Valley may well have this riper profile.

Limestone soil at Talinay in the Limarí Valley

Soil and location also have their impact on the wine. Chardonnay seems to especially shine in soils with some chalk or limestone content. For instance some of the world’s most renowned Chardonnays are from Burgundy in France, where the climate is only just warm enough to ripen grapes and the soils in many areas have a chalk or limestone content. Here in Chile, the team at Tabalí in the Limarí Valley were quick to recognise the potential of the limestone soils and cool coastal climate in the Talinay area of the valley and plant Chardonnay there. This area now produces some of Chile’s finest Chardonnays: fresh, lean wines with complex layers of aromas including wet stones and a saline hint.


Tabalí’s Talinay unique vineyard – cool-climate conditions surrounded by desert

However, this is not the whole story. While some winemakers take a hand’s-off approach so that their wines reflect the climate and soils of the place they come from, others use a whole range of techniques to give the wines a different style.

How can the wine be influenced by the winemaker?

Here are just a few of the techniques the winemaker can choose.

  • If you leave the skins in contact with the juice for a little while before pressing the grapes and putting the juice into the fermentation tank, it adds a different texture and some aromas and can add a little bitterness.
  • If you ferment and/or age the wine in oak containers, this will add body and texture to the wine.
  • If some or all of the oak is new (not previously used), you will add a layer of extra aromas and flavours to the wine, like vanilla, cinnamon and cedar.
  • Some winemakers like to work with the sediment in the wine, known as lees. By stirring this up regularly, suspending it in the must, the wine will become creamier and gain some yeasty or even lactic aromas.

    Concrete egg
  • Some winemakers are now fermenting some of their Chardonnay in concrete eggs because the shape keeps the wine moving and hence the lees remain suspended in the wine.
  • All winemakers have to decide whether or not to let the wine go through partial or full malolactic fermentation (MLF), where lactic acid bacteria convert the sharp malic acidity (which is like tart, unripe green apples) to a more lactic flavour profile, with notes of cream and butterscotch.

Chardonnay is an obliging variety that can take any and all of these techniques, which would overpower some other white varieties.  For a couple of decades big-bodied, oaked, butterscotchy, high alcohol Chardonnays were all the rage, sometimes with a hint of sweetness. And it was these wines, particularly some of the hugely popular entry-level ones that provoked the snobbish backlash known as ABC (Anything But Chardonnay).

Things have moved on and these days there is a Chardonnay to suit everyone’s taste.  And let’s not forget that Chardonnay is one of the classic varieties used to make Champagne and many other sparkling wines around the world, including here in Chile. Chardonnay truly is the queen of versatility

All in all, those 11,000 hectares of Chardonnay vines in Chile are certainly being put to good use. If you’re wondering where to start, here are just a few Chilean Chardonnays worth checking out:

Top wines for 2017
At the premium end:

Pandolfi Price in the Itata Valley is a small-scale producer making very two very fine Chardonnays: Trabun (unoaked) and Los Patricios (oaked). Click here to visit their website.

Tabalí in the Limarí Valley has a good range of Chardonnays but the pick has to be the creamy, fresh and vibrant Talinay. Check out their website here.

Villard Fine Wines‘ Le Chardonnay from the Casablanca Valley shows lovely balance and is a very fresh, restrained style of wine that would pair well with many different types of cuisine. Click here to visit their website.

Kingston Family Vineyards, also in the Casablanca Valley, makes two super Chardonnays – CJ’s Barrel and Sabino. Check out their website here.

De Martino Legado Chardonnay
Lower budget but still intesting:

Veramonte Ritual Chardonnay from the Casablanca Valley. This is their website.

De Martino Legado Chardonnary from the Limarí Valley. Check out their website.

What style of Chardonnay do you like best?

We’ve all heard about small businesses that have been hard-hit in one way or another by the Covid-19 pandemic. This week I was inspired by the positive attitude of the woman owner of one such company here in Chile: Andrea (Andi) Jure, who makes and sells sparkling wines through her business Mujer Andina based in Paine near to Santiago.

Prior to the pandemic, restaurants accounted for a significant share of Andi’s sales and, of course, those sales dried up when the restaurants were all closed in mid-March, meaning a major loss in income. The schools closed at that time too, so Andi’s three children, like so many others around the world, have been stuck at home 24/7 since then, needing extra attention.  And, of course, the pandemic hit Chile right at the busiest period in the winemaking calendar, so not only did Andi have to contend with lost sales and the increased needs of her family, but also grapes arriving and fermentation vats to keep an eye on, so it was a busy time in the cellar too. It all added up to a stressful situation.  Andi, however, refused to let it get her down.

“Once I’ve embarked on something, I don’t get off – unless the boat actually sinks, of course,” she laughs. “And you know, sometimes things don’t work out but you just have to keep going.”

So she launched a whole new social media strategy with home delivery to consumers across Chile with innovative ideas like hand-painting bottles to order. And it’s a strategy that has proved effective, making her products better-known. Plus a second order came in from a distributor in New York, so the future is looking a whole lot brighter for Andi and her wines.

Bottle of Ai! sparkling wineThere are currently two Mujer Andina wines on the market, both sparkling.

Ai! is a tank-method wine made with 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir grapes from Biobio and is intended to be a fun sparkling suitable for any occasion. Hence the playful label depicting a woman falling into a glass of sparkling wine and the name “Ai!”, which is a very Chilean word meaning “wow” or “mmm”, as in “¡Ai, qué rico!” (mmm, how delicious!).

Ai! is certainly a very quaffable and refreshing sparkling wine, hand’s down better than a lot of the industrialized sparkling wines in the same price bracket. The nose is lightly citrussy – think sherbet lemon – and it’s very fresh in the mouth, with the acidity and sugar well-balanced.  A good choice for parties or a hot day on the terrace.

Bottle of Levita sparkling wineLevita is in a whole other category. It’s a beautiful salmon-coloured sparkling made from organic Syrah grapes. The wine spends a few months over its lees before the second, in-bottle fermentation and another period on the lees to enhance the complexity and mouthfeel. The nose is expressive with notes of red apples and pears, canned strawberries and cherries intermingled with delicious leesy notes like Danish pastries. This is a crisp, dry, creamy-textured wine that will pair with a wide range of food. Check it out with smoked salmon, prawn brochettes, creamy cheese or even Thai dishes.

Andi continues to be upbeat and is full of plans for the future. There are three non-sparkling wines under development – a rosé, a Pinot Noir and a Carmenère and she also has plans to expand her sparkling range down the line.  Mujer Andina is definitely a brand worth keeping your eye on.

I asked Andi what advice she would give to another woman thinking about setting up her own business:

“Choose something that makes you happy. Believe in yourself. Be honest and honourable. And don’t wait for things to come to you; you have to work for them.”

Sage advice indeed.

Finally, I asked her to tell me about three wines she had enjoyed recently:

  • Grand Vin de Château Léoville Las Cases in Bordeaux
  • Marcela Chandia’s wines La Confundida Carmenère or El Consentido Cabernet Sauvignon, because they are elegant and fruity, with just the right level of oak.
  • Weichafe Sauvignon Blanc to pair with seafood.
Find out more about Mujer Andina
Other posts about sparkling wine

Dish of beans

This dish celebrates some of South America’s best and most emblematic flavours – beans, pumpkin, sweetcorn and tomatoes. It’s wholesome, warm, comforting, a fabulous healthy option that is vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free and it looks beautiful too.  

Porotos granados is the name in Chile for the Borlotti beans so widely used in Italian dishes and they also go by the name of Cranberry beans in some places around the world. Mounds of these pretty pink beans can be found in Chilean fruit and vegetable markets from around January to May each year; then you can buy the shelled, dried beans during the rest of the year.

Porotos granados in their pods
Porotos granados in their pods


  • 1kg porotos granados (weight in their pods; once podded, the uncooked weight is around 380-400g) , removed from their pods and cleaned (you can substitute around 450g of ready-cooked beans from cans or cartons if you prefer)
  • I medium onion, diced
  • Sunflower oil (or your choice of vegetable oil)
  • 300g of diced, peeled pumpkin
  • 250g of cooked sweetcorn kernels
  • 2 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • Basil (fresh or dried)
  • Oregano (fresh or dried)
Porotos granados after shelling
Porotos granados after shelling


  • Put the beans in a pan, cover them with water and cook until soft. Keep the water. If using ready-cooked beans, obviously skip this step.
  • Meanwhile put the oil in a pan and cook the onion until it softens. Add the pumpkin and cook until soft. The original recipe I used suggested 4 tablespoons but I prefer to reduce the amount of oil so I just start with a little oil, then add a splash of water, stock or white wine whenever the vegetables start to stick.
  • Add the beans, sweetcorn, tomatoes and enough of the bean water to make the dish quite liquidy.
  • Add salt, pepper, oregano and basil to taste. You might want to give it a bit of pep with some merquén or other type of chilli powder or sauce.
  • Cook until the pumpkin has mushed into the water and you have a thick yellow bean stew.
  • Serve!

This dish can be made a day ahead, in which case the flavours will meld together even more. You can also freeze it.

The beans are starting to cook
The beans are starting to cook

Wine pairing

I’d put this hearty dish with a light-bodied red wine like País or Cinsault, such as Bouchon’s País Salvaje or Koyle Don Cande Cinsault or perhaps even Pinot Noir – check out Schwaderer Wines’ Pinot Noir for a fruity, creamy tipple.  If you prefer a white, look for one with some body and creamy texture, perhaps a Chardonnay, such as Veramonte Ritual or Pandolfi Price’s Los Patricios if you can lay your hands on a bottle. If you fancy something really different, check out a characterful rosé such as Catrala’s rosé or a fruity and textured orange wine like Amber from Attilio and Mochi.

Other posts

Chilean light red wines tasting

10 of Chile’s top red wine varieties


Chilean Sauvignon BlancIf you’re looking for a thirst-quenching wine, there’s really nothing to beat a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. And there are some some cool, fresh, Chilean Sauvignon Blanc wines that can easily hold their own with those from New Zealand or the Loire.

People drinking Sauvignon BlancA few of us got together recently to check out a few of the Chilean Sauvignon Blanc wines on the market. These are our tasting notes.

Bottles of Sauvignon Blanc

Leyda Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2018, Leyda Valley. 13.5% ABV.  Retails at around CLP6,000.

Pronounced, clean aromas of grass, elderflower and citrus fruit. Clean, sharp and lemon-fresh. A good afternoon thirst-quencher.

Santa Helena Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2018, Central Valley. 14% ABV. Retails at around CLP3,600.

Light, fresh and easy-drinking. The value for money option in our tasting; great for by the pool.

Bottle of white wine

Tabalí Pedregoso Sauvignon Blanc 2018, Coastal Limarí Valley. 14% ABV. Retails at around CLP9,000

A wine with complex layers of aromas: pyrazine notes of green peppers and chilli peppers, herbaceous notes of elderflower and fresh-cut grass and terpenic notes from the fermentation process of passionfruit with citrus notes. The mouth also has more body, suggestive of some time over the lees. An understated and sophisticated tipple for those looking for a wine with character.

Bottle of white wine

Casa Silva Cool Coast Sauvignon Blanc 2018, Parredones, Coastal Colchagua Valley. 13.5% ABV.  Retails at around CLP12,000.

The most aromatic wine in the tasting with prominent upfront notes of tropical fruit like tinned pineapple and passionfruit, followed by a herbaceous layer like an English hedgerow in spring and then those pyrazinic notes of peppers and chilli peppers. In the mouth, nice body and fairly long. This wine was the favourite of the tasting.

Amayna Sauvignon Blanc 2018, Leyda Valley. 14% ABV. Retails at around CLP11,000

Another subtle but intriguing tipple with fruit and earthy notes and some personality in the mouth.

How about you? Have you recently tried a Sauvignon Blanc that you would recommend?

Other articles about Chilean Sauvignon Blanc
Websites of the wineries included in the tasting:


Carignan vinesIn 2010, a group of wine producers in Chile set up an unprecedented association called Vigno dedicated to just one variety of wine from just one area of Chile. Why? Because they thought that some really special wines could be made from the old and largely unappreciated Carignan vines in a remote, dry area of Maule.

Fast forward nine years to an international Carignan seminar in the Chilean capital of Santiago. It was like the who’s who of Chilean wine: just about everybody who is anybody was there.  I went along on behalf of South America Wine Guide to find out opinions about the future of Carignan in Chile.

Read the full article at South America Wine Guide

Other posts about Carignan

Trip to Maule with 80 Harvests

Morandé Vigno


In the quest to bring you the best of Chilean wine, a group of 7 people recently tasted our way through some lighter Chilean red wines. We were looking for wines that can be served slightly chilled in warm weather and that pair well with turkey and other dishes often served for Thanksgiving, Christmas and other festivities. Our tasting panel bravely tasted its way through 8 different Chilean wines made from 4 different grape varieties. Below are the full details of all the wines we tried and at the end I will reveal which two wines were the panel’s favourites.


  1. País

For decades País was relegated to an underdog role by Chile’s biggest producers who bought the grapes at rock-bottom prices to bulk out other varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon when making Chile’s cheapest red wines. But lately Chile’s third most planted variety has been experiencing a renaissance, with producers  experimenting with different wine styles with País in the starring role. País wines tend to be light, easy-drinking reds with some fruity aromas. We tried two brands.

Bouchon País Salvaje 2018. Maule Valley.

Retails around CLP$10,000. 12.5% ABV

Family firm based in Maule, making a range of wines from grapes grown in Maule. This particular wine is made from grapes from País vines that have self-seeded and run wild, climbing trees. The grapes are destemmed using a zaranda. Fermented in cement vats with native yeasts. 50% underwent carbonic maceration. This wine is unfiltered.

Tasting note: A fresh, fruity, pale-coloured wine; very easy-drinking.

Bouchon’s Pais Salvaje website

Cacique Maravilla 2019. Yumbel, Itata, Ñuble Region.

Retails around CLP$6,000 12.2% ABV

This is a very long-standing family vineyard that is proud to still be making wines from the old vines and using the traditional methods that have passed down through the family. This wine is made with 100% País grapes.

Tasting note: rather denser than the País Salvaje with rustic tannins, medium acidity and red fruit flavours.

Cacique Maravilla’s website

  1. Cinsault

Cinsault is light-skinned with soft, fruity aromas and is widely used in blends in southern France and a few other warm climate areas around the world. If the vines are allowed produce too many grapes, the wines can be boring. But when yields are low – for instance when the grapes come from old vines, like the ones in Itata – it can make deliciously fresh, tasty wines with lovely aromas of red fruit and wild herbs. We tried two different Cinsault wines.

Pedro Parra Imaginador 2017. Itata, Ñuble Region.

Retails around CLP$15,000. 14% ABV

Pedro Parra is a highly respected Chilean expert on terroir (finding the ideal place for growing wine grapes). This is his own family project in his home area. He has sourced grapes from 4 different local vineyards. These are all old vineyards with old vines, trained in a bush or gobelet form and dry-farmed (not irrigated).  The wine has been fermented and aged in a mix of stainless steel and cement vats (no oak) to retain freshness and fruity aromas.

Tasting note: Fresh, crunchy red fruit profile with an intriguingly smoky note. Mineral and taut red fruit flavours with light tannins. Delicious!

Pedro Parra’s website

Dagaz Cinsault 2018. Itata, Ñuble Region.

Retails around CLP$15,000. 13% ABV

Like the Pedro Parra wine, this is made from bush-trained vines in dry inland areas of Itata. This wine has had 6 months’ ageing in a mixture of stainless steel vats and neutral, used oak barrels.

Tasting note: Also fruity but overall a denser wine than the Pedro Parra with more tannins and body, most likely reflecting heavier extraction techniques and the use of oak. A pleasant, fruity wine.

Dagaz Wines’ website

  1. Grenache (Garnacha)

Grenache is widely planted in Spain and France, where, like Cinsault, it has traditionally been used in blends. It is a tricky grape to get right but if you do, it can make an exciting and seductive red wines. There are just a few being made here in Chile and they can be hard to get hold of – the Perez Cruz we tried is probably the most widely available.

Perez Cruz Grenache 2018, Maipo Andes, Metropolitan Region.

Retails around CLP$15,000. The bottle label says 14% ABV but online info suggests it’s actually 14.9%!!

85% Garnacha, 10% Syrah, 5% Mourvedre. 14 months’ ageing, 100% in French oak, half new and half second use, so this wine should have a notable oak influence (aromas of spices, toast) and a smoothness in the mouth.

Tasting note: Beautiful strawberry and chocolate nose and smooth palate with medium tannins and just enough acidity to keep it interesting. Very delicious and moreish.

Perez Cruz website

  1. Pinot Noir

Another fiddly variety that is difficult to get right. People seem to either absolutely adore it or else detest it. Given that the styles of wine it can make can vary hugely, as can the pricetag, then perhaps that is no surprise. In Chile, you can find everything from rich and mouthfilling Pinot Noirs with aromas like strawberry jam and toast through to subtle and lighter-bodied wines with a whole myriad of aromas ranging from mushrooms, through leather, damp leaves and game, through to a downright farmyardy manure-type odour. There are around 4,000 hectares of Pinot Noir in Chile but a lot more are being planted, mostly in coastal, mountainous or southerly regions, as Pinot Noir does best in cool climate conditions. We tasted three Chilean Pinot Noirs.

Aquitania Sol de Sol Pinot Noir 2012, Malleco, La Araucanía Region.

Retails around CLP$20,000. 13.5% ABV

This project was at one time one of Chile’s southernmost but now there are increasing numbers of wineries moving south as the climate gets warmer and drier and because cool-climate wines are fashionable around the world. This wine has had 12 months’ French oak ageing.

Tasting note: A supple, smooth wine with high acidity and a subtle red fruit profile.

Aquitania’s website

Montesecano Refugio Pinot Noir 2018, Casablanca Valley.

Retails around CLP$14,500. 12% ABV

This is a small vineyard recently planted in the Casablanca area where they are making very natural wines with no sulphur and no oak. The wines are aged in cement eggs.

Tasting note: Slightly cloudy. The nose reveals medicinal spice and red fruit, as well as a mineral note. Crisp and fresh and just a little bit funky.

Montesecano’s website

Koyle Costa Pinot Noir 2014, Colchagua Costa.

Retails at CLP$15,000. 14% ABV

Koyle is a small family winery led by Cristóbal Undurraga and based in Colchagua Alto, following biodynamic and sustainable principles. These grapes are brought from vineyards nearer the coast. The grapes are harvested in 2 different lots from 2 different plots with different solar exposure to get a different flavour profile. Ageing: 50% in barrels, 50% concrete eggs for 12 months.

Tasting note: Sophisticated nose of red fruit, mineral notes and a hint of toast. Slightly bitter note in the mouth but overall very pleasant, with fresh acidity and fine tannins.

Koyle website

Tasting panel favourites:

Perez Cruz Grenache 2018 was the universal favourite and Pedro Parra’s Imaginador 2017 came out the strong second choice.  Both delicious wines, well worth trying.


WOW I PASSED! Now what?

Have you ever been so focussed on achieving something that when you actually succeeded, you didn’t know what to do next?  I had such a moment back in 2003 when I finished walking the Camino de Santiago across northern Spain. After 40 days and 770km, it felt amazing to totter, footsore and pink-faced, into the beautiful city of Santiago de Compostela. But part of me also felt rather deflated because it meant I had to figure out my next destination without a map or yellow arrows to point the way. As Antonio Machado’s poem states:

Caminante, no hay camino, se hace camino al andar”  (“Traveller, there is no road; you make your path as you walk”).

Just over a year later, I emigrated to Chile.

I’m having another “what now?” moment again, 16 years on (though I don’t imagine moving to another country this time!!). I’ve just completed another big challenge – this time studying alongside full-time work – and now I’ve finished I find I have free time on my hands and a head full of geeky knowledge and am wondering what to do about it. The course was the Wine and Spirit Education Trust Level 4 Diploma in Wines and Spirits, their top qualification. It took three years of blood, sweat, tears and more money than I care to think about. But I’ve done it; I’ve passed.

So what now? First, I need to take a breath and get back into the routine of normal life. I need to get back on track with friends I’ve been neglecting, recoup my depleted finances and thank my translation clients for remaining loyal over the years, despite my periodic disappearances to sit exams in London.

Of course I also have a whole heap of wine-related ambitions. I’d love to go and visit all the wine regions I’ve learned about and taste wines with the Master of Wine candidates in Santiago. I really want to get some hands-on experience in a vineyard (or several) and sooner or later I’m going to make my own garage wine just for the hell of it.

But for now my biggest ambition is to share some of the wonderful things I have learned about wine. In addition to writing for my blog, I am very proud to be helping wine journalist Amanda Barnes with her publications: Around the World in 80 Harvests and South America Wine Guide, mostly as sub-editor, but also doing a little research and some writing. And I am also just developing a brand new service: wine events like tastings or presentations for small groups in English or Spanish.  I’m completely open to ideas about this so please get in touch if you have any suggestions or want to find out more.

Here’s a handy bilingual guide to some of the sparkling wine jargon you might come across.  Let me know if you come across more terms that need to be added.

Blanc de Blancs

A wine made only from white grapes, often 100% Chardonnay.

Blanc de Blancs

Un vino elaborado solo con uvas blancas, con frecuencia 100% Chardonnay.

Blanc de Noirs

A wine made only from black grapes, typically Pinot Noir. This is still a white wine, irrespective of the type of grapes used.

Blanc de Noirs

Un vino elaborado solo a partir de uvas negras, típicamente Pinot Noir. Este sigue siendo un vino blanco, independientemente del tipo de uvas utilizadas.


The process in in-bottle fermentation where the temporary cork is removed from the bottle and the frozen block of sediment is ejected from the bottle (along with some wine) because of the pressure of gas inside.


El proceso de fermentación en botella en que se retira el corcho temporal y el bloque congelado de sedimento es expulsado de la botella (junto con algo de vino) debido a la presión del gas en el interior.


A mechanized version of a pupitre.


Una versión mecanizada del pupitre.

Liqueur de tirage

A syrup of sugar, wine and yeast added to provoke the second fermentation.

Licor de tiraje

Un sirope de vino, vino y levadura que se añade para provocar la segunda fermentación.

Liqueur d’expedition

This is a syrup added to the wine after the second fermentation is complete. Except in the case of Nature wines, this is a mix of sugar and wine, known as the dosage. The amount of sugar depends on the style of sparkling wine require.

Licor de expedición

Este es un sirope que se añade al vino después de completada la segunda fermentación. Excepto en el caso de los vinos naturales, esta es una mezcla de azúcar y vino conocida como la dosificación. La cantidad de azúcar depende del estilo de vino espumante requerido.


A vintage from one specific year which has been designated to be of a good enough standard. Not every year is good enough to qualify.


Un vintage de un año especifico que ha sido designado por ser de un estándar lo suficientemente bueno. No todos los años son los suficientemente buenos para calificar.


A blend of wines from different years. This term must also be used even if the wine is a blend of vintage years.


Una mezcla de vinos de distintos años. Este término también debe usarse incluso si el vino es una mezcla de años vintage.


A hinged rectangular block with holes into which the bottles are placed by the neck. The bottles start in a horizontal position and are gradually moved by hand until they are upside down, so that the sediment settles in the neck of the bottle.


Un bloque rectangular articulado con orificios en los que se colocan las botellas por el cuello. Las botellas empiezan en posición horizontal y son movidas gradualmente a mano hasta que quedan boca abajo, de forma que el sedimento se acumula en el cuello de la botella.


A wine made via either the saignée method (where the skins spend some time in contact with the juice) or where some red wine is added to the white to make a pink drink.

Rosé / rosado

Un vino elaborado a través del método por sangrado o saignée (en que los orujos pasan un tiempo en contacto con el jugo) o al añadir vino tinto al blanco para conseguir una bebida rosada.

Tank method / Charmat method

When the second fermentation takes place in a special, strong stainless steel tank.

Método tanque /método charmat

Cuando la segunda fermentación ocurre en un tanque especial fuerte de acero inoxidable.

Traditional method or in-bottle fermentation

Where the second fermentation to make a wine fizzy takes place in a bottle.

Método tradicional o fermentación en botella

Cuando la segunda fermentación para hacer que el vino tenga burbujas se realiza en una botella.

Chile produces far more red wine than white, but it is well worth checking out those whites it does produce. Here’s a handy guide to the 5 most planted varieties.

Sauvignon Blanc

Chile has developed its own style of this, one of the world’s favourite white varieties. Pronounced aromas of citrus fruit, like lemon and grapefruit, notes of pineapple and a hint of green chilli pepper are accompanied by refreshing zesty acidity in the mouth. A real thirst-quencher.

Chardonnay grapes


Are you a fan of steely Chablis, subtle white Burgundy or opulent Californian Chardonnay? If so, you may well find a Chilean Chardonnay to suit your tastes. Winemakers here make this chameleon grape into every style, from lean and unoaked through to much softer, creamier and fuller-bodied wines. A good option with fish, chicken and creamy dishes.

Muscat (Moscato)

Muscat comes in many varieties, all of them beautifully aromatic (think flowers, grapes and spices like ginger). Chile has several varieties, with Muscat of Alexandria being the most planted. Muscat grapes are used to make Chile’s own grape brandy Pisco, as well as sweet or dry white wines, which tend to be medium to low in acidity but heady in aroma.


This elegant, fragrant grape makes very refreshing wines, which are usually dry in Chile.  Riesling fans use words like “racy” and “steely” to describe their favourite tipple, which will often have citrus notes and maybe just a whiff of kerosene. Well-made Riesling ages well and can develop complex notes of honey and nuts over time. You can also find a few delicious Late Harvest and botrytized Riesling wines in Chile. The grape’s natural acidity balances out the sweetness making for a very seductive and sophisticated drink. These complex sweet wines pair well with cheese and desserts.


Once widely grown in Chile, most vines were removed in favour of trendier grapes, but if you look hard you may find a bottle. This is a versatile, refreshing variety that can make some very elegant wines in both lean and fuller-bodied styles.

It says a lot about Marcela Burgos and her ability to be concise and to the point, that we managed to shoehorn her interview into just 20 minutes before the other MW candidates arrived for a blind wine tasting.  Marcela is one of those women who exude self-confidence and a sense of purpose, so in her presence I always feel like I need to pull my socks up and get on with things. No shilly-shallying about. A typical teacher vibe, actually, now I come to think about it.

No surprise then that Marcela is the owner of the Conservatorio de Vino school in Santiago offering Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) courses and occasional masterclasses. Marcela set up the school six years ago and is in the enviable position of having waiting lists for some courses, while others sell out soon after the dates are publicized.

What makes the Conservatorio de Vino so successful?

“Three things,” she says. “Firstly, I directly import the wines for the course tastings from the United States, so students can sample a really great range of wines. Secondly, unlike some wine schools, my courses have a gradual format – one or two evening classes a week. This means that students can review the material between classes and it also tends to fit better with their family and work commitments. Thirdly, I have a great team of teachers with first-hand knowledge of the wine industry, like Master of Wine candidates Marco de Martino (de Martino winery) and Fernando Almeda (former Technical Director of Miguel Torres Chile).”

So how did she get into this industry in the first place? She smiles, “I had just graduated with a business degree and was looking for a glamourous job, so I wrote to all the wineries on the Wines of Chile list.” Her first job at Los Boldos winery marked a key moment in her career. During the year she worked there, she had long conversations with the French winemaker, who told her about the world of wine outside of Chile.

Marcela’s next stop was a visit to the French white wine enclave of Alsace, followed by a year studying German in Munich, where she developed her ongoing love affair with German Riesling – especially from the Mosel.

“Riesling is a superlative variety,” she extols, “and Mosel Riesling evolves like a poem.”

Her career was set after a period living in Canada, where she worked her way through the WSET courses, completing WSET Level 4 (the Diploma) in London. Then, six years ago, after coming back to Chile and starting a family, she opened up the Conservatorio de Vino.

So what are her ambitions for the future?

“The Master of Wine programme, of course,” she says. Marcela is one of a very select handful of people in Chile on the extremely challenging MW programme who are seeking to join the 382 people around the world who currently hold this highly prestigious wine qualification.

She also writes features about Chile’s wine industry for Meininger’s Wine Business International, something she really enjoys. And she is confident that the Conservatorio de Vino will continue to grow over the coming years, offering the WSET Diploma, which is not currently available anywhere in South America, and increasing the number of WSET courses she runs each year.“Also I’ve just added the new WSET spirits qualifications and the demand is very strong, so I expect to see lots of growth there.”

And the final question: what are her favourite wines? Other than Mosel Riesling, red Burgundy tops her list, especially Chambolle-Musigny because it is so fragrant and evolves in the glass. And in terms of Chilean wine, aside from the Riesling wines from Chile’s coolest climate areas like the far south, she highlights Carignan from Maule because of its concentration and fresh, nicely balanced acidity. What an excellent choice!

More information about:

The Conservatorio de Vino

Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) courses

Master of Wine programme

Maule and its Carignan wines