What can you learn from a Chilean wine label?
Wine labels must provide the information required by the country of destination, but generally speaking, Chilean wine labels will include:
Winery Name (required)
This may be the official name of the company or a brand name.
Varietal Name (optional)
The varietal name is not required, although it is common.
For single varietal wines, Chilean law requires a wine to include a minimum of 75% of a varietal for it to appear on the label, although most producers hold to the 85% rule required by many destination markets.
For blended wines, up to 3 varietals may be listed on the front label and must appear in decreasing order of quantity contained, and any varietal listed must comprise at least 15% of the blend.
Chilean law requires that only Vitis vinifera grapes from a specific, OIV-approved list be used (See the Varietal Section). Hybrid grapes are strictly forbidden.
In addition to brand name, wineries may use the term “Reserva” to indicate a higher quality. The legal definition indicates that the wine has “distinctive organoleptic properties.” It must contain a minimum of 12º alcohol (see Alcohol Content below), and may or may not have oak treatment.
The term Reserva Especial indicates “distinctive organoleptic properties,” a minimum of 12º alcohol, and oak treatment.
Reserva Privada indicates “distinctive organoleptic properties,” a minimum of 12.5º alcohol, and optional oak treatment.
Gran Reserva: indicates “distinctive organoleptic properties,” a minimum of 12.5º alcohol, and oak treatment.
Vintage Year (optional)
The year shown refers to the year the grapes were harvested. Chilean law stipulates that a minimum of 75% must come from that year, although wines for export will adhere to the 85% minimum requirement designated by many destination markets.
Denomination of Origin (Appellation) (optional)
Wines made from approved Vitis vinifera grapes grown in specific wine regions may list their D.O. on the label. Chilean law requires a minimum of 75% of the wine to come from a specific region for it to appear on the label, although most producers adhere to the 85% rule commonly used internationally.
When the grapes come from more than one wine valley are used, the denomination corresponds to the smallest region that includes them both. For example, wine made from Cachapoal and Colchagua grapes may use the Rapel Valley sub-regional D.O., while wine from Colchagua and Maipo must use the larger Central Valley regional Denomination.
Wines made from grapes from different regions, such as Aconcagua and Maipo (which belongs to the Central Valley region) must be labeled “Wine of Chile.”
Embotellado en Origen / Estate Bottled (optional)
This legend or its equivalent in other languages may be used on D.O. wines that are made with grapes grown on land belonging to or operated by the winery and the wine has been vinified, bottled, and aged in a continuous process by the winery on the same property.
A brief marketing text is allowed on the front and/or back label as long as it does not mislead the consumer with respect to the product contents.
Contents in ml (required)
As is the international norm, most wines are sold in 750 mm bottles. The volume must be stipulated in metric units somewhere on the bottle or container. Chilean law does not stipulate bottle style or color.
Alcohol Content (required)
The alcohol content must appear somewhere on the bottle or container, expressed in Guy Lussac degrees (ex: 13.5º), which is roughly equivalent to percentage (13.5%). Chilean law requires a minimum alcohol level of 11.5º.
Labeling laws in destination markets generally require that the percentage of alcohol, volume content in ml, the words “Chile” as the country of origin, and “wine,” as the nature of the product, must appear together within a single field of vision, although any or all of this information may appear elsewhere on the bottle.
Name & Address of producer-bottler (required)
This usually appears on the back label.
Wine Description (optional)
Back labels commonly provide a description of the wine and additional information of interest to consumers.