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Chile

 

Location

Chile is rich in geographic and climatic diversity rarely found in a single country.  The weather patterns and soil conditions are ideal forwine-grape growing, harvesting, and wine production.  Hot summer days,cool night-time coastal breezes, and moderate rainfall provide theideal backdrop. Untapped Fine Wines introduce the very best from Chile’s Coquimbo, Central and Aconcagua regions.

 

Culture

Chile is a prosperous and forward-thinking country with a strong economy and numerous free-trade agreements.  As a result of decades of sustained growth, Chile enjoys a diverse economy based on mining, forestry, agriculture, fishing, tourism…and, of course, wine!  

Several of our wine producers   also reference artwork from the native Mapuche, who are a group of indigenous inhabitants which still represent nearly 5% of the total Chilean population.

 

Terroir

In the 16th century, the Spanish conquistadors found the ideal place to plant vines, since the local soil was free of phylloxera and the climate allowed a perfect growing season and ripening time for fruit.
 By the mid-19th century, the first major change to Chilean wines began to take hold. The economy — strongly based on agriculture and mining — had matured and wealthy businessmen started looking towards France as a model.  Rich families traveled abroad, where they explored French wines and châteaux. Excited by the possibility of replicating them back at home, they imported a selection of the finest rootstocks to Chile, just a few decades before the phylloxera outbreak that devastated the Old World. In Chile, these rootstocks grew own-rooted, which turned out to be valuable genetic material. This also allowed for Carménère to thrive hidden amongst Merlot for over a century, even after it nearly became extinct in France.

 

 

Winemaking

The Chilean winemaking style reflects age-old techniques with traditional French and Spanish roots.  However, the modern Chilean winemaker utilises modern technology and employs pioneering methods to overcome the challenges they encounter as they explore and develop exciting new growing regions.  The industry focus on sustainable winemaking practices is truly exemplary with modern wineries being built with sustainability at the forefront of their design process.

 

Sauvignon Blanc

Famous world wide for their Sauvignon Blanc, the distinctive Chilean style would fall somewhere between the mineral style of the Loire Valley and the distinctive tropical character of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. “Zesty” is the buzz word and nothing makes a better aperitif than a glass of bright, young Sauvignon Blanc. Highly aromatic and featuring citrus fruit tones, green apple and crisp pear, combine with a refreshing green-grassy aroma that is complimented by a stony, steely, mineral edge. It can be enjoyed by itself but is also incredibly food friendly. Pair with prawns, white fish, salads or blue cheese.

 

Carmenere

Chile’s own signature grape, this red varietal disappeared from European vineyards in the mid-19th century and reappeared among Chile’s Merlot vines a hundred years later. The deepest and darkest of all red grapes, it demands a long growing season to reach its fullest potential. Examples are usually rich in berry fruits and spice (think blackberries and black pepper), with smooth, well-rounded tannins.  The generous fruit and soft tannins make this a very pleasing and easy-to-drink varietal. Enjoy it with red meats and corn-based dishes, such as the Chilean favourite pastel de choclo (corn and meat pie), or take advantage of its natural fruity spiciness and serve it with a mild curry or even with Mexican dishes.

 

Cabernet Sauvignon

Chile’s star grape, the king of all reds, Cabernet Sauvignon also made its way from France in the mid-19th century. It quickly settled in and began enticing local—and later international—consumers with its powerful attributes. 

Although it grows in all but the coldest of Chilean climates, this late-ripening grape truly flourishes in vineyards in Aconcagua, Maipo, Cachapoal, and Colchagua, where the warm, dry climate allows it to ripen thoroughly and develop rich red fruit, berry, black currant, and fig aromas and flavours. Some areas, such as Alto Maipo, have a distinctive eucalyptus edge that lends freshness. More complex versions often feature notes of tobacco, chocolate, black tea, black olive, liquorice, tar, coffee, pencil lead, incense, and leather. 

Chilean Cabernets are distinctive in themselves and often feature a characteristic “jubeiness” on the nose and palate, as well as fantastic length that makes them not only wonderful when paired with food, but a true pleasure to drink on their own.