Thursday, October 11, 2012

Chile Defines New Vineyard Designations

On Oct. 9th, I attended a tasting seminar which was to introduce the new designation of vineyards in  Chile. The new alignment is linear so that it subdivides many existing appellations.  This is ambitious in that as recently as the past month they (government/growers) have decided to give consumers more information to make their choices. Here they are:

COSTA: Coastal vineyards are influenced by the Pacific Ocean and its moderate temperatures as well as fog.

CORDILLERAS: These are the vineyards of the plains which are more inland but can still get some marine influence. These vineyards are typically the warmest spots and are the home to deep reds like Carmenere, Cabernet, Cabernet Franc etc.

ANDES:  High altitude vineyards have the cooling effect from the Andes.  Because of their location their water source is run off from the Andes.  The greatest daily temperature variation, called diurinal,  is in the Andes. 

These designations have been made but not implemented as of now.  The problem is that many growing areas such as Maipo, Colchagua and Maule cover more than one area of designation. My thought is that the concept is excellent but the market place is still realizing the potential of wines from Chile.  What ever they choose to implement this recognition it must start out very simple such as: color code for each region, a number or letter designation, a seal or some form of recognition which will not deter a buyer but still give information.

The wines that were shown from each region expressed the concept that there are indeed regional differences within the same valley. Another fact that helps Chilean wines get their rich flavors and aroma compounds is that the growing season runs from September to March. Most of the wines produced have a long hang time, i.e. time grapes remain on the vine.  Here are some of my impressions of wines which are available now in the market place.

Tabali "Talinay" Limari area Coastal 2011:  This is a serious Sauvignon Blanc with very clean pronounced steely aromas and flavors. Grown on a limestone base this leans toward a Sancerre style with stunning acidity to carry the flavors into a very long finish.  Clone 1 and 242 are the source of this wine. What is quite amazing is that this vineyard is in a desert climate with drip irrigation from Andes run off.  Taliney vineyard is only six years old !!

DE MARTINO Alto Los Toros  Andes Syrah 2008:  This stunning wine was produced from the third leaf since planting.  At 5,000 ft. altitude it has deep rich color and wonderful aromas for such a young wine. The future of this vineyard apppears limitless.

El PRINCIPAL 2007 Maipo Alto -Cabernet Sauvignon:  3,000 ft. altitude with generous aromas of leather, graphite and stone.  Wonderful wine which can stand up to rich meat and cheeses.

MONTES OUTERLIMITES. Carignon, Granache, Mouvedre 2010 Alphalta Vineyards.  From an 8 year old vineyard which is farmed by the famous Montes winery, this vineyard is an Andes designation with 15% new french oak.  Not quite a full blown Rhone wine it is just as on spot with the classic blend of Rhone flavors with a lighter body. Very good...

VENTISQUERO  2010 SINGLE VINEYARD CARMENERE  MAIPO CORDERILLAS: From 14  year old vines and quite full and impressive.  Notes of coffee and dried fruit are mixed with mild tannins for a full mouthfeel and finish.  Impressive for what it is..

Summary:  The wines of Chile are true bargains in the world of wines.  They are grown in ideal conditions and have had a large investment for capital to establish modern winemaking.  They are still finding the best places for each varietal but they are learning quickly.  I am a big proponent of southern hemisphere wines.  You get quality at a more than reasonable price.

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