The Best Maipo Cabernet Sauvignon
Certain wine regions are defined by the notoriety of a single grape, sometimes carrying with it the vinous fortunes and reputation of an entire country. Prime examples are Tempranillo from Rioja, Sangiovese from Tuscany and Malbec from Mendoza. Imagine how Spain, Italy and Argentina would best be known within wine circles if it were not for the cultivation and vinification of those particular grapes in those specific regions.
In Chile, it’s Cabernet Sauvignon from Maipo Valley. Although emerging areas such as the Pacific coastline, the dry and breezy north and warmer regions to the south are subjects of much modern investment, it is the traditional, established winemaking areas in the sprawling Maipo Valley that continue to yield the bulk of Chile’s top-rated—as well as many top-value—wines. The majority of those are varietal Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet-based blends.
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“People need to realize that Maipo remains very strong when it comes to Cabernet Sauvignon. If you take the 10 best Chilean Cabernets, all, or almost all of them, are from Maipo,” says Marcelo Retamal, winemaker at De Martino and an avowed terroir hunter. Retamal has been a pioneer among Chilean winemakers and viticulturists in establishing the northerly Limarí region as a source for minerally Chardonnay and the oft-overlooked Maule Valley for palate-staining old-vines Carignan and field blends. “Today, Maipo has come back to being all about Cabernet. Since 1995 that’s the direction we’ve been moving. Before then, everything was grown in Maipo: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, you name it.”