Chile's Cousino-Macul: History, Heritage and Fine Wines

Founded in 1856, Cousiño-Macul (  the only winery in Chile that continues in the hands of its original founding family. It produces limited quantities of fine wines that are world-class and carry the character of the Maipo Valley vineyards from which they are sourced. This is a red-wine oriented winery, with Cabernet Sauvignon as its core business.  Our group sponsored by WineBow visited on Day Two of our Chile wine experience.

The Maipo Valley has a Mediterranean climate with thermal conditions that are subtropical, notes the company literature. “The average maximum temperature in January (the hottest month) is 30 degrees C, with a temperature variation that can reach 20 degrees C between night and day.” To the east is the Andes range, and to the west is the Coastal range.


A visit to Cousiño-Macul should be on the “Must Do” list of every visitor to Santiago who is interested in wine. A visit here offers you a look at a beautiful old winery, a fashionable new tasting room, and a drive through gardens that are a wonderful touch of green in the city of Santiago. As the winery has thrived through the decades, Santiago has seen urban sprawl consume land near the vineyards and the winery, but the owners have worked with successive governments to preserve this landmark winery. Over the years, purchases of other land were made, and the winery now sources fruit from 400 hectares in three locations – Macul, Buin, and Alhue.

Our group of writers-photographers-WineExperts was met by Arturo Cousiño, the patriarch of the family today. He conducted us first through the magnificent gardens, so we will start with our journey there…

Today's owner, family member Arturo Cousiño,
greets us to tour through the private gardens


old winery tanks

The basement, where wines are aged in barrels, was built 7 feet down using bricks and limestone held together by a mixture of sand and egg white.  The original fermentation tanks are part of the old winery tour.

After a long day out and about, we tasted many wines, but my favorite by far was the Cabernet Sauvignon 2011. Five thousand cases of this wine go into export of the 80,000 cases produced. Everyone is talking about Cabernet Sauvignon from the Maipo, and we had an opportunity to see how it has evolved. This is their entry-level Cabernet Sauvignon, selling at $10/bottle US retail. 14.2% alcohol. It has a deep ruby-red color, aroma of berries and plum with a bit of spice, and the taste is fresh, fruity and with firm velvety tannins.

The Merlot 2011 is also a yummy entry-level wine from Cousiño-Macul. Four thousand cases of the 25,000 cases total produced go into export channels. It is well-balanced and has the characteristics of a more expensive merlot. In color, red and somewhat purple. In aroma, fruity with plum and some spice. Taste is rounded with soft tannins and fruitiness throughout. There’s not too much structure to this wine and it is very enjoyable with food. $10 the bottle US retail. 14% alcohol.

The Antiguas Reservas 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the winery’s premium wines, and is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. In color, it is dark red and intense. Aroma is red fruit and black cherry. Taste is nice and fruity with notes of plum. It is ripe, complex and dense. $17 US retail, and 14.7% alcohol.

Finis Terrae 2008 is a hand-crafted blend of the winery’s finest wines – in this 2008 vintage, the blend was Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah (60-30-10 percent respectively). This ultra-premium wine is medium-bodied, with great balance and complexity. In aroma, you find wild berries, blueberry, blackberry and raspberry. In taste, plum and strawberry with a nice sweetness from the Merlot. A nice round long finish, with ripe tannin. It is sourced from the Macul vineyard, from the oldest vines planted on this estate at least 80 years ago. Because the vines were planted less than 1.5 meters apart, it is necessary to tend them by hand. This wine is also made in the original winery in Macul. $25 the bottle, US export price.

Of the 180,000 cases of Cousiño-Macul wines that go into export channels, only 30% go to the US market. They are worth seeking out, as they represent great value and are uniformly wonderful food wines.


As a finish to our visit, the winery hosted a dinner for our WineBow tour group. Many thanks to them!  Below, a few photos to wish you make you wrote about wine for a living; it may not be lucrative (believe me!), but there are perks… like visits to a wonderful winery like Cousiño-Macul.

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