Wines of Chile 101
Taking a look at the where, what, whys and whens of Chile
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.