Wines of Chile 101

Taking a look at the where, what, whys and whens of Chile


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Geography
Chile is a narrow strip of land on South America’s Pacific coast that stretches some 2,600 miles from north to south with the Pacific coastline forming its western edge and the spine of the Andes mountains creating a formidable frontier on the eastern side. Most of Chile’s vineyards lie roughly within the bottom half of the top half of the country. Yes, a little confusing but the point is that although we know Chile is a long country the real source of the country’s wine diversity comes not from moving north to south, where the vineyards are between the 30th and 36th parallel south, which is of course that same magic swath that includes many of the great wine regions of Argentina, Uruguay, South Africa and Australia. 
 
No the real magic happens as one moves from ocean to Andes within Chile’s wine producing regions. yes there are differences in the regions as one moves from north to south but the fundamental character of the wines and the suitability for various varieties is determined primarily by their microclimate, which is determined by altitude and distance from the ocean. In fact, Chile has gone so far as to define their wine producing regions as Coastal, Entre Cordillera ( between mountains), and Andes to help identify the terroir associated with each. 

 

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Comments

  • Snooth User: Zuiko
    Hand of Snooth
    540750 755

    "In the north of the country vineyards in the ocean cooled Limari Valley are proving particularly well suited to Chardonnay..."

    Indeed! The Concha Y Toro, Casillero del Diablo Chardonnays of recent vintages (2010, 11 & 12) were all from Limari and were successful. They are a big, rich, sappy style but with the necessary acid to carry them. Older vintages were from Casablanca Valley.

    Oct 28, 2013 at 6:37 PM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 202,190

    Nice observation. Thanks for that!

    Oct 28, 2013 at 7:44 PM


  • Snooth User: sometime66
    1347805 7

    Concha y Toro 'Marques de Casa Concha' Cabernet Sauvignon, Puente Alto $20
    Santa Rita Medalla Real Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley $18
    Cousino Macul Antiguas Reservas Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley $15
    Santa Carolina Reserva de Familia Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley $15

    are all cabs from the same area and particularly the Concha y Toro 'Marques de Casa Concha' Cabernet Sauvignon, Concha y Toro 'Marques de Casa Concha' Cabernet Sauvignon, Puente Alto $20 from the same vineyard as the highly overpriced "Don Melchoir", just not from a barrel picked to be bottled as "Don Melchoir". Same vineyard, same picking, same vinafication. All of the above mentioned wines are excellent buys. As is any wine from the Santa Digna (owned by Miguel Torres, Spain) label. If you're into late harvest wines look for the Santa Digna Late Harvest Reisling. Mind boggling, save $100+ over a German or French Late Harvest...Enjoy.

    Oct 29, 2013 at 8:59 PM


  • Yesterday I was at a tasting with the Chilean Icons, organized by Patricio Tapia + Wines of Chile (Sao Paulo, Brazil): Don Maximiano 2010 and 2000, Don Melchior 2010 + 1996; Casa Real 2010 + 2002; Altair 2010 + 2002;Lapostolle 2010 + 2002; Montes Folly Syrah 2010 + 2000. The older wines were great, but Follies Syrah 2000 (2010 was much better, because 2000 was a young vine). Casa Real 1996 is ready, to drink this year. Last week I spent few days in Santiago visiting Cousino Maculsituated at Maipo (by the way, Antiguas Reservas Cab is a best buy, and if you have a chance, try Antiguas Reserva Syrah) Maipo is a great terroir for cabs. San Antonio great for Sauvignon Blanc as in Casa Marin.

    Oct 30, 2013 at 8:59 AM


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