Friday, October 21, 2016

Chilean Wines - fine wines from South America

Chile can be seen in many ways as the California Wine County for the Southern Hemisphere.  Much of the same geography and climate exists in Chile as we see here in California.  Much as the 

California current brings the cool moist weather from Alaska to California, the Humboldt current brings the Antarctica moist weather to Chile.  In California, we see vast fertile valleys between the lower coast range and the tall Sierra Nevada, while in Chile; the central valley is bound by the coast range and the tall Andes.  In Chile, you see the hot Atacama Desert to the north and the weather gets colder as you move south towards the tip of South America.  In California, we see the Mojave Desert to the south and the weather gets colder and wetter as you move to the northern part of California.

Even history has similarities with the Spaniards first introducing grape growing to both California and Chile as the regions were colonized in the 1500s – 1600s.  Chile is known as a winemaker’s paradise with excellent growing regions and little risk of disease and pests.  Chile’s geographic isolation with the Pacific Ocean, Andes, Desert and cold south helped it remain as the only wine-producing country in the world that is completely free of the Phylloxera louse that destroyed vineyards in North America and Europe in the 19th century.

Chile has over 14 major wine growing areas from the far south to the north.  The primary wine regions are in the central part of Chile, not too far from Santiago and the major populations of Chile.  They have a total vineyard area of over 317,000 acres and red wine grapes are the most popular.    The primary varietals planted are Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Chardonnay and Carmenere, but you will find other unique varietals as well.

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