Chile has produced wine since the 16th century, when Spanish conquistadores brought grape vines and established vineyards. Sweet wines were favored until well into the 19th century, when French immigrants began making dry wines with a decidedly French character. Chile’s long, narrow, coastal geography has made the transportation of wines challenging over the centuries, though today it is a major exporter. To the west is the Pacific Ocean, to the east are the Andes. But the isolation has also meant that Chile vineyards have so far never been attacked by phylloxera, meaning that unlike viticulturalists in many other part of the world, Chilean vineyards can be planted with original rootstock, saving producers the laborious job of grafting vines onto phylloxera-resistant rootstocks. Chile started an appellation system in 1994, and there are five regions each with numerous sub-regions. Chile has attracted investment from European and American producers, including Robert Mondavi Winery, Kendall-Jackson, Lafite-Rothschild and Miguel Torres.
The Merlot grape is such a deep blue that it is named for the blackbird. It’s an early ripening grape and one of the primary varietals used In Bordeaux. Merlot is also grown in the "International style," which is harvested later to bring out more tannins and body.