Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenère are two of the most popular and well-respected varieties grown in Central Valley, Chile.
Originally brought to Chile by mistake from its native Bordeaux, these dark-skinned grapes have become a global favorite and are treasured for their plush tannins, deep berry fruit flavors and herbal tones.
Try these twelve Chilean reds that span from smooth to bold.
Casas del Toqui 2018 Gran Toqui Cabernet Sauvignon (Cachapoal Valley); $35, 93 Points. Aromas of iron and minerals open this full and ripe Cabernet, then come leathery berry and black plum scents. This is full, smooth and a bit jammy and chunky in feel. Ripe, lusty black cherry, dark plum and oaky chocolate flavors finish with a dash of Chile’s patented herbal spice. Drink this smooth operator through 2024. Via Pacifica Imports. Editors’ Choice. —Michael Schachner
François Lurton 2018 Hacienda Araucano Gran Araucano Cabernet Sauvignon (Colchagua Valley); $35, 92 Points. The nose of this Cabernet gives way to red bell pepper, brick dust and baking spice aromas. A lush, deep and layered palate is jammy and thick, while flavors of peppery blackberry, fresh herbs and spicy oak arise. On the finish, coffee and mocha notes mix with ripe berry flavors. Drink through 2025. Winesellers, Ltd. —M.S.
Santa Rita 2018 Floresta Cabernet Sauvignon (Maipo Valley); $35, 92 Points. Earthy blackberry and cassis aromas are backed by textbook Chilean notes of tobacco and cedary oak. On the palate, this is lively, with bright acidity offering lift and balance. Lightly baked cassis and plum flavors finish a bit flat. Drink through 2024. Delicato Family Wines. —M.S.
Undurraga 2018 T.H. Terroir Hunter Cauquenes Cabernet Sauvignon (Maule Valley); $30, 92 Points. Smooth and spicy black cherry, cassis and herbal aromas are muscular but not heavy. Lively acidity adds punch to the palate, while this dry-farmed Maule Cabernet tastes of red plum, currant and spicy oak. Drink through 2026. Freedom Beverage Co. —M.S.
Casa Silva 2018 S38 Los Lingues Single Block Cabernet Sauvignon (Colchagua Valley); $30, 91 Points. Off the blocks this is oaky, highly herbal and pushing up against green, which is typical for Los Lingues. An intense palate is saturated and woody, while this tastes of oak grain, sawdust, berry fruits and tobacco. This is a potent Cabernet with a ton of barrel influence. Drink through 2026. Vine Connections. Cellar Selection. —M.S.
Primus 2019 Carmenère (Apalta); $19, 91 Points. Ripe plum and blackberry aromas come with ample oaky wood grain scents as well as hints of Band-Aid and latex. A flush palate is what Apalta is known for, while this warm-year Carmenère offers baked black fruit flavors touched up by chocolaty oak. A slightly sticky and grabby finish confirms the wine’s heft. Gonzalez Byass USA. —M.S.
Bodega Volcanes de Chile 2019 Tectonia Carmenère (Maule Valley); $25, 90 Points. Herbal berry aromas are clipped and tight, with a mild green note. Grabby tannins and raw acidity pump up the mouthfeel on this Maule Valley Carmenère, while flavors of coffee, mocha, blackberry and brown sugar finish with some heat and acidic push. Vias Imports. —M.S.
Cigar Box 2019 Old Vine Hand Harvested Cabernet Sauvignon (Maipo Valley); $12, 90 Points. Lightly herbal blackberry and plum aromas are typical for quality Chilean Cabernet, while this feels full and fresh, with a seamless blend of pulpy fruit, tannins and acidity. Black cherry and cassis flavors are herbal and lightly chocolaty, while this finishes smooth and steady. Drink through 2023. Santa Rita USA Corporation. Best Buy. —M.S.
Viñedos Marchigüe 2019 Panilonco Chief of Lions Reserve Carmenère (Colchagua Valley); $20, 90 Points. Herbal black plum aromas are inviting in a textbook way, while this shows the pop and energy of Marchigue, a coastal-influenced subzone of Colchagua. Black cherry and herbal notes and notable oak fill out the flavor profile on this savory tasting Carmenère with latent burn. Evaki Imports Inc. —M.S.
Viña Tarapacá 2019 Gran Reserva Carmenère (Maipo Valley); $18, 89 Points. Aromas of herbal blackberry and dark plum come with notes of beef broth and gamy leather. This Carmenère from a hot and dry year feels full and edgy. Herbal plum and blackberry flavors lean toward spicy and slightly green, while catchy tannins make for a grabby finish. Brotherhood Winery. —M.S.
Apaltagua 2019 Reserva Apalta Valley Estate Grown Carmenère (Colchagua Valley); $13, 88 Points. Leathery black fruit aromas are smoky and a touch burnt, while this opens with a reduced scent of peanut that blows off in due time. Rubbing tannins tighten the palate feel, while flavors of coffee and herbal blackberry finish with cheek-starching tannic roughness. Global Vineyard Importers. Best Buy. —M.S.
Concha y Toro 2019 Casillero del Diablo Reserva Carmenère (Central Valley); $12, 88 Points. Spicy, minty green notes are a big part of this Carmenère’s blackberry and black plum aromas. A full and solid palate is round and generous. Mint and blackberry flavors blend with peppery notes that spice up the finish. Fetzer Vineyards. Best Buy. —M.S.