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What’s happening in Chile (part 2)? The importance of terroir

>> Monday, June 14, 2010

“We have shown the market that we can make good varietal wines. The challenge today is to use the terroir, soil types, with have”, says Miguel Torres Maczassek, fifth generation winemaker at Torres and recently permanently settled in Chile. And terroir seems to be the catch word of the day. Santiago Margozzini, chief winemaker at Montgras in Colchagua, says that Chile is in the middle of a “terroir revolution”. “In the late 80s we started a technical revolution in Chile, with stainless steel tanks, cold fermentation, and aging in oak barrels. During the last five years what’s been important is instead to find the perfect location for each grape variety. We have still a long way to go but we’re getting better and better. We have shown that we can make cheap, reliable wines but now we also want to compete on higher levels.”

Everyone seems to agree that it’s not really important in which valley you happen to have a vineyard. What’s important is where in the valley you have your land. Sergio Homazabal at Viña Ventisquero points out that the climate varies more east-to-west than north-to-south. So, how close are you to the Andes or to the Pacific Ocean? That’s what is important.

New regions open doors to new grape varieties. “In the Central Valley we used to be very limited in the choice of grape varieties”, says Marcelo Papa. “Thanks to new, cooler regions the quality of the white wines has improved enormously the last five years.”


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