CHILE: Everything You Should Know About One of the World's Largest Wine-Growing Countries
Chile is full of beautiful landscapes, rich culture and great traditions. It is a country that has a lot to admire: The beautiful views of the Andes Mountains; Santiago de Chile, the large modern capital of the country; the multicultural cities Viña del Mar and Valparaíso, the magnificent Torres del Paine National Park in one of the southernmost regions of the planet, Patagonia; the Atacama Desert, the most arid and sterile desert in the world and the impressive Isla de Pascua.
But most importantly, the wine!
Wine in Chile began to be produced on a regular basis, and started being considered one of the most important work activities in the country in the 19th century. But it was not until recently that many Chilean producers began to bet more on quality over quantity. Chile is recognized worldwide for its large amounts of production. In 2019, it was ranked eighth as "The World's Largest Wine Producers" according to the OIV.
Chilean wine is distinguished for its quality at affordable prices. It is exported all over the world, with the USA and Europe being its main markets, especially Great Britain. The Carménère variety is the flagship and one of the main grapes planted in this country. Although Carménère does not originate from here, Chile is practically the only country in the world where it can be found.
The Most Important Wine Regions in Chile
This region is located in the North of the country. In addition to being part of the regions that border the Atacama desert, it has an extensive number of vineyards, of which approximately 94% of them are destined for table grapes and 6% are divided between wine, must and pisco.
The main regions are the Copiapó Valley and the Huasco Valley. Copiapó is the northernmost wine-growing Valley of the country and in this region, the planted grapes are fortunate to be watered with water that comes from natural oases. Huasco is located on the border with the Atacama desert, this Valley came to revolutionize the wine of the Atacama region; It is divided into Huasco Costa and Huasco Alto, and if you like Chilean wine, don't miss the opportunity to taste Huasco Costa wines since, thanks to its excellent climatic conditions, exceptional wines are produced from Shiraz, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc grapes.
Atacama is one of the smallest regions in terms of production and they produce mostly white wine. The main varieties of grape planted are Chardonnay, Moscatel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Carménère.
Coquimbo is a port region. Here, trade and maritime tourism are very important. Its main Wine Valleys are: Elqui, Limarí and Choapa Valley.
The Elqui Valley is planted mainly with Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc, these varieties have been able to adapt to the rustic soil of this region and managed to produce excellent wines. The Limarí Valley is home to world-renowned Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc wines; This thanks to its calcareous soils and its privileged climatic conditions, this area is cooled with a mist called Camanchaca.
Almost 44% of the vineyards in this region are used for the production of Wine and Pisco.
The most recognized wineries in this region are:
- Cavas Del Valle
- Viña Falernia
- Viñedos De Alcohuaz
Aconcagua is located less than 65 miles from the capital and within the region of Valparaíso or "Valpo", as it is commonly named by its inhabitants; It is a beautiful and picturesque port city, full of street art, exquisite seafood and spectacular views that you can appreciate from its many funiculars distributed around the entire city.
Aconcagua is one of the main wine regions in the entire country and is considered a paradise for the vine thanks to its perfectly marked seasons of the year, hot days and cool nights, its proximity to the Pacific Ocean and its enviable soils. Its cool climate allows the excellent development of varieties such as Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. If you are a wine lover, make sure you try the wines of this region!
Its main valleys are the Aconcagua Valley, the Casablanca Valley and the San Antonio Valley. The Aconcagua Valley has alluvial and colluvial terraces that allow the vine to flourish. In addition to having red grape plantations, this region has begun to experiment with varieties for cold climates and has begun to produce excellent wines. One of the Chilean wine regions that has become more popular in recent years is the Casablanca Valley, this region is where they began to experiment with the plantation of cold weather grapes, and it is one of the regions with the best white wines in the country. The San Antonio Valley comprises the sub-regions of Leyda, Lo Abarca and Rosario. This Valley is home to the most complex Syrah grape wines in the entire country.
The most recognized wineries in this region are:
- Casas del Bosque
- Viña Mar
- Viña Leyda
- Bodegas Re
This is the most important, largest and oldest region of the country. In fact, more than 80% of the wine production in the country comes from here. In addition, it is home to some of the most recognized wineries with the highest production in the world.
The subregions of the Central Valley are the Maipo Valley, the Rapel Valley, the Curicó Valley and the Maule Valley. The Maipo Valley is one of the most representative and well-known Chilean wine regions in the world. This region has gained fame and recognition for its production of excellent red wines. The Maipo Valley is a very extensive and complex place, if you want to learn more about this spectacular region, we invite you to read our Maipo Blog. The Rapel Valley concentrates important plantations of Carménère, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, within this region is the famous Colchagua Valley, that is one of the largest and most active regions in all of Chile. The Curicó Valley has a great variety of microclimates and the perfect conditions for practically any grape to develop.
And finally, the largest Valley in the country, Maule; In this valley the most important varieties are Carménère, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which produce complex and intense wines.
The most recognized wineries in the Aconcagua region are:
- Concha y Toro
- Viña Montes
- Santa Rita
- Viña Santa Carolina
- Cousiño Macul
- Viu Manet
This region, as its name says, is located in the South of the Country. Located between the Ñuble Region and the Araucanía Region.
It includes the Valles De Itata, the Bío-Bío Valley and the Malleco Valley. Previously, this area was mainly focused on the mass production of very simple table wines, but little by little it has begun to produce excellent examples of quality wine. The main grape varieties planted are Chardonnay, Moscatel, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Carménère. The Itata Valley is cultivated mainly by País grape and Muscat of Alexandria, this Valley is one of the oldest in the entire country. Bío-bío and Malleco are cold climate valleys, perfect for varieties such as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling.
The dreamed Patagonia, one of the southernmost regions of the world that human beings can access. A must for all lovers of nature and exotic places. In this impressive region there are also vineyards! We could say that the viticulture in this region is extreme due to the climatic conditions. If we compare it with the other wine regions of Chile, this region has a low amount of vineyard plantations, which are only made up of wine grapes. Due to the cool climate, the main varieties are Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc. Its main valleys are the Valle del Cautín and the Valle de Osorno. The Osorno Valley is one of the newest wine regions in Chile, they started experimenting with the vine at the beginning of 2000. Today, great wines are made from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling, and also sparkling wines are being produced in this region.
In this region is located the southernmost vineyard in the world called Keóken.
If you are a lover of Chilean wine, Our Wine Experts from Big Hammer Wine recommend you to try these wines from BigHammerWines.com Online Store.
- 2012 Santa Rita Medalla Real Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon
- 2015 Casas del Bosque Chardonnay Gran Reserva
- 2016 Almaviva Puente Alto Maipo Cabernet Red Blend Chile
Chile is a country with so much to explore, a very interesting sea cuisine and some of the best quality-price wines on the market.
Do not hesitate to immerse yourself in the culture and discover more of this country!
If you want to know more about this incredible country and its wines, go to www.winesofchile.org
Photos supplied by Wines of Chile.
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