We’re all trying to make more thoughtful choices in what we’re consuming these days — be it buying locally grown food or shopping at favorite neighborhood businesses. And this holiday season, we’ll undoubtedly be gift-giving and entertaining with sustainability in mind; there’s no reason wine shouldn’t be a part of that. This year, confidently opt for bottles from Chile.
Sustainability has been a major focus of Chile’s winemakers for nearly a decade. Launched in 2011, Wines of Chile’s Sustainability Code assesses wineries in three areas: vineyards, winery practices, and social responsibility.
One thing that sets Chile’s Sustainability Code apart from that of other countries is that it’s voluntary — meaning the winemakers themselves opt into it, rather than it being something imposed by the government. Taking everything from pesticides and herbicides to the working conditions of vineyard workers into consideration, this three-tiered approach makes this program one of the most ambitious and comprehensive of wine-producing nations. Within the certification itself, 113 of the rules are related to the realm of social responsibility.
“Sustainable viticulture is the only possible path if we want to be responsible when it comes to the planet and our people,” says Patricio Parra, research & development manager of Wines of Chile, a non-profit, private trade association that focuses on showcasing the best quality and diversity of Chilean wine. Today, over 80 percent of the country’s wineries are certified through Wines of Chile, following a strict process for consideration.
Seventy vineyards across the country have been certified through Wines of Chile’s Sustainability Code, each offering its own suite of varietals — making them perfect for gifting or pairing with a variety of holiday meals. Stretching 2,653 miles down the coast of South America, with the Andes forming its eastern border, Chile is incredibly varied in its terroir, divided into distinct growing regions. Chile is probably best known for its red wines, but it produces some exceptional white wines, too. More coastal regions like Casablanca and Leyda produce outstanding Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, with bright acidity that makes them ideal for cocktail party cheese plates and celebratory seafood dishes.
When it comes to reds, while roughly one in every three bottles of wine produced in Chile is Cabernet Sauvignon, there are plenty of other reds to get to know there, such as País, a super-food-friendly, medium-bodied juicy red from the Central Valley. Chile’s Pinot Noir, from the cooler Aconcagua region, offers some of the best value of any in the world. And Carménère, which was once native to Bordeaux, has now become a signature of Chile’s Central Valley, beloved for its boldly spiced, dark-fruited wines.
And then there’s Cabernet. Having been grown in Chile since it was transported from Bordeaux in the 19th century, Chile’s Maipo Valley ranks among the world’s best regions for Cabernet Sauvignon. There’s a wide range of styles and prices when it comes to Chilean Cab. Truly something for everyone. They’ll pair expertly with any wintry dish – think roasts, pot pies, and hearty stews.
The variety offered by Chilean wines makes it easy to find a good fit for pairing with any holiday meal or gifting to whomever’s on your gift list. Beyond its environmental and social endeavors, Chile is also known for well-priced, consistently high-quality wines in a broad range of styles — from citrusy Sauvignon Blancs from Casablanca to red País from hundred-year-old vines in Bío Bío, to bold Cabernets from Maipo. Because of the great value the wines present, it’s completely feasible to put together a mixed case and dole them out through the season.
“Our wines contribute to the global wine market through their quality, diversity, and commitment to sustainability,” says Parra.
And what could be a better gift or entertaining companion than that?
This article is sponsored by Wines of Chile. Love Wine, Love Chile.