Posted by: wineatlunch | May 5, 2010

Chile- great values, great wines!

All Star!With a history of winemaking dating back to the 16th century, Chile has some of the best value wines you can find in stores today. Originally started by Spanish conquistadors and missionaries, viticulture in Chile was practiced to produce wines to be used in religious ceremonies. Much of the wine produced over the centuries was meant to be consumed in Chile. It wasn’t until the late 20th century that winemaking shifted its focus to quality over quantity and to making wines that would do well in the world market.

Growing vines at the foot of the Andes, Chile has a unique All Star!climate perfect for grapes to thrive. Spanning over an 800 mile stretch along the Andes, the wine growing regions of Chile range from hot and dry in the north to damp and cool in the south. Being so narrow, Chile has a climate influenced by the ocean and breezes from the mountains. Grapes thrive from the air currents that cause hot days and cool nights. Additionally, Chile irrigates its vineyards using runoff from the mountains as the main source of water. Chile’s wine growing regions are categorized into 5 main regions including Atacama, Coquimbo, Aconcagua, Valle Central, and Southern Chile. Valle Central is located across from Argentina’s main region for vineyards, Mendoza and Valle Central produces the most wine that is exported abroad.

While winemakers have traditionally focused on single varietal wines, recent years have seen a rise in winemakers experimenting with blends. These are fast becoming the stars of Chile’s exported wines as the winemakers learn and perfect their techniques. Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Carmenere are some of the most widely planted grapes. Carmenere, has become Chile’s standout grape in recent years as it thrives at the foothills of the Andes.

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