Get your wine on in Chile
In recent years the Chilean wine industry’s focus on quality has really paid off. Chile’s extreme topography means there’s an incredible variety on display in its wines. Read on to find out more about some of our favorite regions.
Close to home: Maipo Valley
A mere 30 miles from Santiago, the Maipo Valley is the oldest wine producing region in Chile. The classic Mediterranean climate with its hot summers and mild frost-free winters make Cabernet Sauvignon the valley’s most outstanding varietal. With intense color, consistency and body, as well delicate fruity aromas, Maipo produces most of Chile’s finest Cab Savs.
Because of its proximity to the capital, Maipo is a great destination for those with only a passing interest in wine, but it’s also got some serious chops for the aficionado.
Mountain magic: Aconcagua Valley
Located a mere 50 miles northeast of Santiago, the fertile Aconcagua Valley is set against a dramatic backdrop of towering mountains and pristine air, bare rock and eternal ice. The area was settled by the Incas at the end of the 16th Century and is known by locals as the ‘village where the sun sets’.
The valley, fed by snowmelt from the highest peak in the Americas, is famous for its Syrahs – but there’s also plenty of Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. The now legendary Seña red blend from Viña Errázuriz that was first released in 1995 is credited as being the wine that announced Chile’s arrival as a serious player on the global stage. While Viña Errázuriz should definitely be top on your list of Aconcagua wineries, we’d also recommend checking out Von Siebenthal and San Esteban.
Coastal cool: Casablanca Valley
Some 40 miles northwest of Santiago, the coastal valley of Casablanca is conveniently located en route to the fascinating coastal city of Valparaiso. Being so close to the sea has an impact on the climate: morning mists and the small difference between day and nighttime temperatures result in a slow ripening process which is particularly suited to white wines, especially Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blancs.
In recent years the valley has seen many boutique wineries flourish (places like Kingston, Casa Marin and Matetic) and producers have also been experimenting with Syrah – with very promising results.
Southern style: Colchagua Valley
Colchagua Valley is a narrow valley, 80 miles south of the capital, that stretches from the base of the Andes to the Pacific Ocean. The gentle slopes, warm microclimates, huge variety of soils and abundant water make the region ideal for the production of red wines: over the years the valley has produced excellent Cabernet Sauvignons, Merlots, Syrahs, Carmenères and Malbecs.
The Colchagua Valley is the most glamorous of all Chilean wine regions and many of the country’s most exquisite wines come out of it. Many of the wineries (such as VIK, pictured above) also feature stylish modern architecture and design…Not surprising, then, that Colchagua is often likened to the Napa Valley.
Northern gem: Limari and Elqui Valleys
Located some 260 miles from Santiago, near the agricultural city of Ovalle, the Limarí Valley is the most northerly wine producer in Chile. Because it’s so far afield, it doesn’t see as many tourists as some other regions, but those who make the effort are richly rewarded. Limarí’s Mediterranean climate fertile soil and good irrigation mean excellent grapes, which produce perfect wines year in year out. The most important varietals in this region are Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
This part of the world is also renowned for its pisco – the clear brandy which is the base of Pisco Sours. Pisco is a matter of such deep national pride that Chile and Peru very nearly fought a war over it!
Whether you’re a spittoon-toting connoisseur or a clueless beginner, we’d love to put together a wine tour for you. Speak to one of our Destination Experts when you’re customizing your boutique Chilean adventure. ¡Salud!
Credit to Santa Rita for the cover image of this blog.