Wine grapes were first planted in Chile as early as the 1500s. However, it wasn’t until the 1980s when Chilean wines began to receive international recognition. Within the last few decades Chile’s wine industry has grown rapidly, making it one of the world’s top wine producing regions.

Chile initially gained a reputation for producing low-cost, bargain wines with relative ease due to its ideal growing conditions and almost perfect isolation with its natural borders, the Pacific Ocean on the west and broad range of the Andes Mountains on the east, essentially shielding it from pests and diseases such as the notorious Phylloxera. Today, however, many Chilean winemakers are focused on producing higher-quality, more expensive wines. Among them is Viña Valdivieso.

Valdivieso Chile

Valdivieso is the first company to produce sparkling wine in Chile and South America. Its history dates back to 1879 when Don Alberto Valdivieso founded Champagne Valdivieso. Since then, Valdivieso has established itself as the leader of sparkling wines in the domestic and South American market. Today, over a hundred years since its founding, the company has been expanding into the world market and producing premium white and red still wines, such as Caballo Loco. Named after one of Valdivieso’s previous winemakers and the wine’s creator, Jorge Caderch, Caballo Loco is made using a solera system similar to that used in making Sherry wine. Approximately 50% of the blend comes from the previous Caballo Loco. After the current vintage has been barrel-aged, it is blended with the previous edition. 50% of the new vintage goes back into the solera system for use in the next edition.

Valdivieso Chile

Brett Jackson, Valdivieso Chief Winemaker

I had the opportunity to meet with Valdivieso’s current Chief Winemaker, Brett Jackson. A New Zealand native, Brett began his winemaking career in 1990 at Stoney Ridge Vineyard in Waiheke, New Zealand. Since then, he’s broadened his international experience as winemaker by working at other vineyards and wineries such as Flora Springs in Napa Valley, California, Thelema Mountain in Stellenbosch, South Africa, and later with Jacques and Francois Lurton in Narbonne, France before joining Valdivieso in 1999.

Brett brings his knowledge and experience to Valdivieso to develop some well crafted wines. I had the pleasure of tasting some of these wines over dinner while listening to Brett explain his wine making process.  Valdivieso ChileThe wines included Valdivieso’s Single Vineyard Wild Fermented Chardonnay 2013 and several red blends, ‘Eclat 2010, Caballo Loco N° 16, and Caballo Loco Grand Cru Apalta 2013. I enjoyed each of these wines. However, my personal favorite was Caballo Loco N° 16, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Syrah, and Carmenere. Its rich and lush character paired perfectly with my smoked lamb shoulder. It’s also noted as one of Valdivieso’s most distinguished Caballo Locos to date.

Valdivieso ChileValdivieso’s wines represent the quality revolution currently taking place in Chile. Some have even described the region as the next California. It’s exciting what’s happening in Chile today and I look forward to enjoying more wines of this caliber.