Skip to main content
Top Bottles

Best Cabernet Sauvignon From Chile Under $30

The South American country is the premier region for affordable and well-made red wine

Janice Williams By February 24, 2022
Cabernet Sauvignon bottle collage
Illustration by Pix

Looking for quality Cabernet Sauvignon without the expensive price tag? Set your eyes on Chile, the premier region for affordable and well-made red wine. 

Over the last 30 years, wine production and quality in Chile have improved dramatically, leading it to become the fifth-biggest wine exporting country globally. And Cabernet Sauvignon is Chile’s ruling grape; it’s the most planted red variety, accounting for more than 20% of all vineyard plantings, according to Wines of Chile.

How did this long, narrow South American country gain its glowing reputation for quality wine at value prices? Well, it starts with the land itself. 

A winemaker’s dreamland

In the 19th century, affluent Chilean travelers brought plantings back to the country from Europe. Cabernet Sauvignon, which originated in France, was among the first grapes planted in Chile along with other popular Bordeaux varieties like Merlot and Carménère.

Located on the west side of South America, Chile is wedged between the dry and hot Atacama Desert to the north and the cold Antarctic to the south. The Andes Mountains sit to the east, while to the west, Chile is sheltered by nearly 9,000 miles of Pacific Ocean coastline. Add in the country’s dry, warm summers, rivers, and climate-moderating mountains, and you get a winemaker’s paradise.

“That really special topography is what makes Chile so unique. You won’t find that same structure elsewhere, honestly. The vines just seem to thrive in Chile’s diverse climate, soil, and regional aspects. You can almost taste that topography in the wine,” says Julio Alonso, the U.S. director of Wines of Chile.

Chile’s sheltered location was one of the reasons the plant louse phylloxera, which devastated vineyards in the mid-1800s, never got a foothold. 

Quality began soaring in the early 1980s with the arrival of new producers, such as Spanish winemaker Miguel Torres, who began using stainless steel tanks and French oak to make wines under his eponymous Chilean label. Montes Wines and other ambitious wineries followed. 

In the 1990s, the Chilean government established the Denominacion de Origen, to regulate and define the country’s winemaking regions. As the country became more widely known for its ability to produce high-quality wines for a reasonable price, wine became one of Chile’s export stars.

“The best price to quality ratio can be found in Chile. That stems from a combination of many factors,” says Alonso. “We have the right climate. We have the right varieties. We have all the conditions to make very good wine, so the quality is there.”

Cabernet Sauvignon regions

While Cabernet Sauvignon is grown across the country, it’s the Maipo Valley in the north and Colchagua Valley in central Chile that produce some of the best. Maipo is known for Cabernet Sauvignons with prominent black fruit flavors, spicy undertones, and bright acidity, while Colchagua Cabernet Sauvignons are more full-bodied with structured tannins.

“The Colchagua Valley, where Los Vascos estate is located, is one of most renowned places for Cabernet Sauvignon. For the last 10 years, we have been cultivating Cabernet in the foothills of the estate, generating a new spectrum of terroirs,” says Philippe Rolet, the managing director of Viña Los Vascos, which is part of the Domaines Barons de Rothschild portfolio — which includes the fabled Château Lafite Rothschild in Bordeaux.

Rolet adds, “The long experience acquired by working with this variety in Chile has played a key role in its success here. Winemakers have a better understanding of the terroir differences in Chile.”

Regions including Aconcagua Valley, Cachapoal, and Curicó Valley are also known for producing top-tier Cabernet Sauvignon that display the wine’s signature intense dark fruit aromas, herbal nuances, and generous yet soft tannins. 

“I truly believe that when people get a better, robust, deeper idea of Chile, they fall in love. I’ve seen that for many years,” says Alonso.

12 Chilean Cabernet to try:

bottle of Montes Classic Series Cabernet Sauvignon 2020

Montes Classic Series Cabernet Sauvignon 2020 (~$11)

For the last 30 years, Montes has produced wines in the Colchagua Valley. Though this bottle is made predominantly with Cabernet Sauvignon, it does include a splash of Merlot, which helps round out the sturdy tannins and provides a dash of acidity. The wine is ripe with red and black fruit fragrances and flavors. Notes of baking spices are prevalent in the palate. The finish is long and strong.

bottle of Viña Los Vacos Valle de Colchagua Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

Viña Los Vascos Valle de Colchagua Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 (~$11)

This is the Cabernet Sauvignon to drink right now. It’s fresh and light-bodied — for a Cabernet Sauvignon at least — with fine tannins and an easy-to-drink profile that is lush with red and black berry flavors and a hint of oak.

bottle of Viña Santa Rita Reserva Maipo Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

Viña Santa Rita Reserva Maipo Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 (~$12)

Founded in 1880 by Don Domingo Fernández Concha, Viña Santa Rita’s Cabernet Sauvignon is made with grapes from vines that were planted in the 1970s. The intense ruby red wine features aromas of cherry and pencil shavings while the palate is layered with juicy red fruit flavors and a touch of cassis. Velvety tannins come to life in the finish.

bottle of Viña Requingua 'Toro de Piedra' Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Viña Requingua Toro de Piedra Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 (~$14)

Santiago Achurra Larraín established Viña Requingua in 1961 with the intention of producing world-class Cabernet Sauvignon, and this bottle certainly earns its place in the spotlight. Cabernet Sauvignon-based with a touch of Cabernet Franc, the wine is nearly purple in color and displays aromas of plum, cherry, and vanilla. The palate is just as complex, framed by round tannins and a dose of red fruit and toffee in the long finish.

bottle of Concha y Toro Gran Reserva Serie Riberas Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

Concha y Toro Gran Reserva Serie Riberas Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 (~$15)

Concha y Toro’s history dates back to 1883 when Melchor Concha y Toro had the idea to launch a winery and put Chilean wines on the map. This dark and deep purple wine gets the job done. The Cabernet Sauvignon is structured and complex with aromas and flavors of black cherry and blackberry, licorice, and a dash of black pepper. Silky tannins are noticeable from first sip to the lengthy finish.

bottle of Viña San Pedro 1865 Single Vineyard Maipo Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

Viña San Pedro 1865 Single Vineyard Maipo Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 (~$15)

If it’s a 90-point wine you’re looking for, Viña San Pedro has you covered. This Cabernet Sauvignon has consistently topped best wine lists for its incredible quality for value. Ripe black fruit leads the aroma on this medium-bodied wine, while the palate evolves into a concentrated crush of dark cherry with caramel and cocoa nuances that mingle with refined tannins in the finish.

bottle of Casa Silva Reserva Colchagua Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

Casa Silva Reserva Colchagua Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 (~$19)

This wine comes from the Colchagua Valley and is produced by one of the oldest wineries in the region, Casa Silva, founded in1892. The Cabernet Sauvignon is aromatic with black fruit flavors. The palate is fresh, displaying high acidity and a sprinkle of black pepper.

bottle of De Martino Legado Maipo Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2019

De Martino Legado Reserva Maipo Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 (~$19)

This wine from De Martino was featured on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 wines list for 2021, and has consistently scored high ratings from critics. Acidic, juicy, and earthy, this medium-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon smells of red fruits and herbs. However, the palate is ripe with black fruit flavors that get a lift from a touch of toasted oak.

bottle of Viña Maquis Colchagua Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Viña Maquis Gran Reserva Colchagua Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 (~$19)

The fruit for Viña Maquis’ wines come from vines planted between the Tinguiririca River and the Chimbarongo Creek within the Colchagua Valley. The final result is a soft wine that is fresh and concentrated with red and black fruit, notes of dried herbs, and sleek tannin character.

bottle of Lapostolle Cuvee Alexandre Apalta Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

Lapostolle Cuvee Alexandre Apalta Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 (~$22)

Lapostolle has made wines in the Apalta Valley since 1994. This deep red wine, made predominantly with Cabernet Sauvignon and a touch of Carménère, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot, is elegant and expressive with black fruit and cassis aromas. The palate displays fresh cherry nuances and a hint of toasted oak.

bottle of Viña Vik Limited Edition Cachapoal Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Viña Vik Limited Edition Cachapoal Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 (~$27)

Vik is an award winning winery launched by Alex and Carrie Vik in the Millahue in the Cachapoal Valley in 2004. This particular bottle is a bold, silky, and elegant Bordeaux style blend that is balanced with complex black fruit, oak, and spice. The wine displays fresh acidity and velvety tannins that last throughout the long finish.

bottle of Calcu Fotem Colchagua Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

Calcu Fotem Colchagua Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 (~$29)

Open this bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from the Colchagua Valley and be greeted with intense aromas of cherries and plum. Produced by Fotem, the fruit for this wine grows a short distance from the Pacific Ocean, resulting in a wine that exudes a fresh and fruity elegance influenced by the sea breezes.