As Christmas and New Year celebrations approach, 'tis the season to crack open the bubbly! This year try Chilean sparkling with this guide to a delicious style for every occasion.
Chile has been making sparkling wine for over 100 years and it is one of the fastest growing wine styles in the country, with more bubbly being produced today than ever before. Why is it so popular? Because there are so many different sparkling wines being made with a style to suit every palate:
If you are planning to have a party and open more than a few bottles, you’ll need a sparkling wine with class that won’t break the bank. Chile’s dry central and coastal climates are perfect for making affordable fizz that still delivers on flavour and fun.
Bio Bio and Curico are two top central wine regions for sparkling wine production, and by the coast San Antonio, Casablanca and Limari are all making great sparkling wine. The freshness and acidity of the coast is often blended with the fruity, more delicate central regions in sparkling wine blends.
Most of the pocket-friendly Chilean sparkling wines are made in charmat method (like Prosecco) or bottle fermented (like Cava), and there is a wide range of varieties that are suitable for making fresh and fruity sparkling wine. The classic Chardonnay and Pinot Noir blend is still the most popular however Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc add a great touch to Chilean bubbly, and you'll sometimes find sparkling Syrah!
One of the most ‘Chilean’ sparkling wines of all is sparkling rose made from the Pais grape which is widely planted throughout the south. It produces a light and lively sparkling rose with notes of red fruits which are perfect for Christmas time.
If your loved one has a sweet tooth, then try one of the many off-dry or sweet sparkling wines being made in Chile today. Demi-Sec is the most popular dosage and offers a sweeter finish to the evening - often best enjoyed when served with dessert!
When only gold will do…
This is also the time of year when we most want to splash out on our loved ones, and what better way to do it than with an extra special bottle of sparkling wine. The most prized sparkling wines in Chile are made in the champenoise method - where the wine goes through second fermentation in the bottle (like Champagne) and spends time ageing and gaining complexity on the lees.
The two top varieties for this style of sparkling wine are the same as used in Champagne and top sparkling wines around the world, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The varieties offer the fruit, structure and acidity to be able to develop over years in the bottle. Some of the top sparkling wines in Chile spend over 3 years ageing on the lees!
Another sparkling wine style re-emerging in Chile is the ancestral method. The wine is bottled mid-fermentation and finishes its ferment in the bottle. This is in fact the first way that sparkling wine was made, almost 200 years before Champagne. While pet-nat has become popular all over the world, Chilean ancestral sparkling wines are usually quite dry with similar complexity to a traditional method sparkling wine.
These are the sort of sparkling wines to enjoy in an intimate setting, over food and good conversation. They are perfect for ringing in the New Year!
Whatever sort of sparkling fan you are, Chile has the right style for you.
Want to know what some of Chile's winemakers think are the future challenges and strengths of Chilean sparkling wine?