Savoring (and Saving) with Chilean Sauvignon Blanc

When it comes to Sauvignon Blanc, there is Sancerre and then there is everyone else. At least that is the mindset for many in the wine industry (including yours truly to a certain extent). Recently, however, I took part in an online tasting of eight Sauvignon Blancs from the Coastal Regions of Chile. My takeaways? First, the wines that we tasted in particular were fantastic and Chilean wine in general has shown a marked improvement in quality in a relatively short period of time. Second, Chilean wines in general and Chilean Sauvignon Blancs in particular are incredible values as most of these wines can likely be found under twenty bucks (and some likely closer to ten). Third, while there is no doubt (at least in my mind) that some Sauvignon Blancs in Chile are on a par with their much more highly regarded brethren from Sancerre, Chilean wines might continue to be regarded as second (or third) tier wines because they remain such good values.

2020 Amayna (Viña Garces Silva) Sauvignon Blanc, Leyda Valley, Chile: Retail $25. Big Ass Bottle. Under screw cap. I don’t drink a ton of Sauvignon Blanc and thus, Chilean SB represents a *very* small percentage of my monthly consumption. But that might need to change. I was recently sent eight bottle of Sauvignon Blanc from the coastal region of Chile and, well, they were pretty much gangbusters. Case in point. A bit of color (a light yellow) with tree fruit, a macadamia component, and a bit of white pepper on the nose. The palate is tart and joyful with good fruit (bright pear), plenty of zinginess (need to schedule a dental checkup), and a healthy dose of verve. Fantastic. Excellent. 92 Points.

2020 Casas del Bosque Sauvignon Blanc La Cantera, Casablanca Valley, Chile: Retail $18. Under screw cap. A pale straw in the glass with aromas that are more reminiscent of New Zealand than France: fresh-cut grass, under-ripe lemon rind, wet rock. The palate is what one might expect with the aroma profile: tart, extremely tart, with plenty of that lemon, and a distinct salinity. Perhaps it is the fact that I know that the vineyard is within a handful of miles from the ocean that causes me to perceive a bit of seashell. Look, this is not my preferred style of Sauvignon Blanc, but is particularly compelling bottle. Excellent. 90 Points.

2021 Viña Koyle Sauvignon Blanc Costa la Flor, San Antonio Valley, Chile: Retail $18. Heavy bottle. Under screw cap. Pale straw with citrus and tree fruit, but the clear power broker on the nose is the jalapeño, which is compelling. Green pepper, lime, a somewhat surprising beefiness, and a solid finish characterize the palate. This is certainly not a one-note Sauvignon Blanc, and that suits me just fine. Excellent. 90 Points.

2020 Matetic Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc EQ Coastal, Casablanca Valley, Chile:  Retail $25. I have had a few wines now from this prominent Chilean producer and on the whole, I have been impressed. This is another vote in the “yes!” column. A brilliant, clear light straw colored wine with green highlights, this is rather majestic in the glass. A similar fruit profile that I have seen in Chilean SB: citrus (grapefruit), tree (green apple), tree (peach), and tropical (papaya) fruit, but this wine seems to be a notch above its brethren with an intense richness on the nose. The palate is dry, with high levels of tartness and complexity, all leading to a lengthy finish. Listen, you could do a whole lot worse at this price point, but why on earth would you? Excellent. 92 Points. 

2021 Montes Sauvignon Blanc Limited Selection, Leyda Valley, Chile: Retail $15. Under screw cap. I visited Montes way bak when and was impressed with the wines, the winery, and, of course, Aurelio Montes (both senior and junior). This wine does nothing to alter that perception. Pale straw in the glass with plenty of cut grass and cat pee on the nose. Another Chilean SB that evokes more of a New Zealand vibe. Bright, round, fruity, and with plenty of tartness to really balance out the wine. If I have said it once, I have said it a thousand times: not my white variety of choice, but this wine is well-made and conjures up many fond memories. And the finish? Holy cow. Excellent. 91 Points.

2020 Morandé Sauvignon Blanc Gran Reserva, Casablanca Valley, Chile: Retail $20. Heavy bottle. DIAM 10. I first tasted this as part of a Master the World tasting, I was not particularly enthralled. It was *OK* but I found it rather lacking in fruit. This full-sized bottle, however, was loaded with fruit, both on the nose and the palate. Quite zingy, with an intense lemon-lime tartness, and mineral on the palate, quite different from the tiny bottle. So now I am in a bit of a quandary: was I right then? Or am I right now? I will go with now. Yummy. Excellent. 90 Points.

2021 Tabalí Sauvignon Blanc Talinay, Limari Valley, Chile:  Retail $25. Under agglomerated stopper (non-DIAM). Quite light in the glass, with a grassy, tart, nutty, citrus-laden nose, and plenty of minerality. Yup, this is more reminiscent of a New Zealand-style Sauvignon Blanc than the French counterpart. The palate is tart and fantastic with that fruit, a distinct flint note, and more than a bit of verve. While Sauvignon Blanc is far from my preferred variety, this is yet another Chilean SB that is quite compelling. Very Good. 89 Points.

2019 Ventisquero Sauvignon Blanc Grey [Glacier] Longomilla Vineyard, Valle de Huasco, Chile: Retail $25. Heavy bottle. Under screw cap. This wine comes what seems to be a rather special place: the Atacama Dessert in Northern Chile, which is purportedly the driest place on earth. But there is a river that runs through it, providing the necessary water for the vineyard. A bit of color, as one might expect from a white with some age, but there is also plenty of tropical fruit (guava) and citrus (mostly lime, but also some lemon rind). The palate is quite dry, fruity, and tart, even uber-tart, with an intense minerality. On the finish, there is a brief but powerful nutty aspect (almond?). A rather compelling wine. Excellent. 91 Points.

About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
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