Although the Spaniards first established vineyards here in the mid 16th century, most of today’s Chilean wine is made from French grape varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay. Chile’s isolated position between the Pacific and the Andes means it is safe from pests and disease that plague European vineyards, and also assures mild temperatures and relatively dry air. Most of Chile’s vineyards are in the Central Valley, and a fair number of them are owned by renowned French, Spanish, and American winemakers. Wines are named for their grape varieties, but they carry a regional or district indication as well. Reasonably priced, and increasingly sophisticated, they make excellent values.
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