Chilean Wines

Chilean Wine

Important facts about Chilean wine

Chile is the only country the the variety Carmenére grows

The Chilean Central Valley has a moderate mediterranean climate with hot and dry summers. During the day, the thermometer climbs up to 32 degrees while at night the proximity to the Andes brings cold air. The soils have very different properties and are irrigated by the meltwaters of the Andes providing ideal conditions for growing healthy vines. A strong erosion caused by the Andean snowmelt and the natural boundary enclosing Central Chile within mountains and sea make Chilean vine cultivations resistent to infections and insect attacks such as the one of the vine pests, a representative of the phylloxera. In the 19th century, the phylloxera was responsible for devastating vine cultivations on a grand scale, first in Europe and later overseas. The parasite louse feeds on the roots of grape vines, resulting in the vines´ death. Thus, in all important winegrowing countries of the Old World, North America and Australia vines have to be grafted onto vine pest resistant rootstocks. Today , Chile is unique in growing all of its grapes on their own genuine rootstocks.

Chile is also the only country where the Carmenère grape is being cultivated. Until a few years ago, the Carmenère grape was mistaken for merlot. Since the Carmenère grape was brought from Bordeaux to Chile in the 19th century, it has thrived in Chile while it was wiped out in Europe by the phylloxera epidemic. Today, oenologists do their best to turn the Carmère into an outstanding “Chilean” wine.

Chile´s cultivation area is by far smaller than the one of the neighbor Argentina, but produces excellent internationally recognized wine. For the most part, around Santiago and in various river valleys of the Andes (see wine regions), European premium quality wines intended for export and excellent national wines are cultivated. The traditional país grape is used only for the production of simple table wines. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Carmenère are the most important red grape varieties. Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay are the outstanding white wine grapes. The most important winegrowing district is the Maipo River Valley close to Santiago. Particularly cabernet wines attract international attention. The most famous wine among the cabernets is Don Melchor from the winery Concha y Toro, taking up top positions at international contests. Chilean red wines have a very fruity as well as spicy flavor and contain a low concentration of tannins. White wines are character ized by a fresh and fruity taste, combined with an outstanding fullness.