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What’s happening in Chile? (part 1 - tales from a recent trip)

>> Friday, June 11, 2010

Chile is a wine country in transformation. For twenty years it has been delivering reliable but quite basic wines but now many wine producers think it is time to show that Chile also can produce top quality too. And there are many things going on in the vineyards. New wine regions are created. New grape varieties are planted. New ideas are born… The way we make wine is changing, says Marcelo Papa, chief winemaker at Concha Y Toro, the biggest wine producer in Chile. “Today, in Chile, we focus more on finesse and less on extraction and we start to understand that the soil is important”. Rafael Tirado, winemaker at VIA Wines, is also aiming for elegance in his wines and not too much power. “We now understand better what consumers want, they want wines that are easy to drink, not over-heavy”. More and more winemakers talk about the importance of not harvesting too over-ripe grapes. “Over-ripe grapes results in a loss of style and character, of style; it is the fruit that gives personality to the wine”, says Fernando Almeda, winemaker since 11 years at Miguel Torres. Roberto Carrancá Silva at Indomita in Casablanca is on the same path. He is trying to reduce the alcohol levels by keeping an abundant canopy (leaving a lot of leaves on the vines) that gives shade to the grapes and avoids excessive exposure to the sun.

“It’s easy to make wine in Chile”, says Patrick Valette (originally from Bordeaux) at VIK Millahue, “the climate is dry and there is plenty of water for irrigation. But if you want to make tip quality you have to think of all the little details and not leave anything to chance, not least the harvest date is important. You mustn’t pick so late that the grapes are over-ripe, but neither too early when tannins are too hard.”


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