Despite averaging only 175km in width over a 4,270km length that crosses 38 degrees of latitude, the long and narrow winemaking map of Chile has recently been redrawn, laterally — to better reflect the geographic and climatic diversity, and its relationship to viniculture. Previously, categorizing the various valley regions was simply determined by whether they lay either north or south of the country’s middle; a temperate zone around the capital, Santiago de Chile, and the nearby vineyard tracts in Valle del Maipo – the historical heartland of a wine industry whose heritage dates to the 16th century. With significant expansions of estates in the 1980’s and 90’s, including the development of many areas that had been dismissed as unsuitable for grapevine cultivation, Chile’s sophisticated viticulturists have come to understand that the pertinent distinction between terroirs lies in their east to west orientation. The three new categories now being promoted are Costa – the coastal areas along the edge of the Pacific Ocean that are equally conducive to red and white, cool climate varieties; Entre Cordilleras — the central valleys whose vines tend to produce medium-bodied red wines, and Andes – the foothills of the Andes Mountains that are the surprising source for Chile’s trademark, full-bodied reds. As these new markers are gradually beginning to appear on Chilean wine labels, the vintners’ aim is to provide savvy consumers with some additional insight into Chile’s impressive and ever-expanding range of regionally expressive wine styles!
One of the youngest Costa wine regions is the San Antonio Valley, which in turn, is made up of a collection of branch valleys: Rosario, Malvilla, Cartegena, Lleoleo, Lo Abarca and the source of this week’s DéClassé featured wine — Leyda. This valley’s floor sits on top of a dry, ancient riverbed that accumulated its desirable loam soil over millions of years: a silt mixture of sand, clay, and crushed granite. Somewhat ironically, given that it lies just 10km inland from the ocean, this is generally arid terrain. However, since 2001 the inventive wineries of Leyda have been building pipelines to access water from the Maipo River and using the precious resource to feed their modern/sustainable drip irrigation systems. With a climate influenced by the valley’s 100-meter altitude, and the daily cycle of fog-bound mornings giving way to sunny afternoons caused by the Humboldt current of the Pacific, the weather factors combine with the mineral-rich soil base to create an ideal terroir for the cultivation of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay — and now 15-years-on from its earliest plantings, Pinot Noir.
With this Viña Tarapacá Gran Reserva Pinot Noir 2015 serving as one compelling example, Tarapacá’s winemakers are capably producing price-competitive, premium versions of a wine style that is commonly and unjustifiably overpriced by many European and North American producers. Apart from its appealing price, the real charm lies in having achieved a balance between a vibrant fruitiness while not belabouring Pinot Noir’s elegance as a mid-weight wine style. Buy 3 today; to serve before, during, and after a very special Christmas dinner tomorrow!
VINA TERAPACA GRAN RESERVA PINOT NOIR 2015
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #404210 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 17.95
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD
Made in Leyda Valley, Chile
By: Vina San Pedro Tarapaca S.A.
Release Date: December 10, 2016
This Chilean Pinot captures many of the bright berry fruit aromas and flavours that are typical of the region, with spice and vanilla notes well-integrated into its structure of smooth tannins. Try serving with grilled duck breast and beetroot, beef tenderloin and mushrooms or seared salmon and a crisp parsnip salad.