Henry Yuen (Chinese version available on http://taiyangbao.ca/author/henryyuen/?variant=zh-hans
I like Chilean wines! Well, who doesn’t? The quality to price ratio of Chilean wines stays in the very competitive bracket is a known fact, giving Chilean the overall wallet-friendly, approachable compatibility and palate-pleasing enjoyment that others may have.
Despite of its long history of winemaking dating back all the way to the 1600’s, the Chilean wine industry only began to flourish within the last thirty-forty years, thanks to the influential impacts of European winemakers in recent years and the noises/voices made in the international market. The ‘new world’ Chilean wine industry surely benefits from the latest techniques and modern infrastructure; as demonstrated by a relatively consistent and high calibre of products year after year. The wine awards garnered are perhaps best indications of the wineries steady progression in the winemaking techniques and viticulture practices. Producing affordable wines of good drinkability attracts attentions to the young and cheerful groups who nowadays play a very important role in supporting the wine industry.
With its large land that is long and thin stretching from north to south, the wineries are usually large scale operators. There are about 120 wineries and growing in the 14 major wine regions of Chile. About 30% were present at the 2012 Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival giving us a good glimpse of the quality of Chilean wines. The central regions still rule with about 20 wineries and was well represented at the festival.The good news is there are still vast areas of terroirs to be discovered and put in use, especially in the northern and southern regions with a divergent of climate; from desert to glaciers conditions, pushing up to the slopes of the Andes and away from the Pacific coast, flourishing an erotic range of wine flavours and characteristics. While Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon still the most desired of the land, other varietals such as Merlot and Syrah are noticeably emerging. With the planting regions expanding upward to higher elevations, cooler climate grapes varietals are now planted to produce wines that are lower in alcohol content and fresher on the palate. Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are popular whites while Viognier and Riesling are very refreshing, all are slowly but steadily gaining prominence.
Now flourishing with distinct viticulture ability, there are no doubt lots more Chilean wines to be explored. We can only hope the popularity of Chilean wines will result in more of them being imported and be available to the public. Chilean wines may be young in stature in the global wine arena but is quickly earning a stronger foothold due to its viticulture foresight and vast favourable terroirs. The outlook for us Chilean wine fans to continue enjoying exciting Chilean wines is joyful!
I will be in Chile touring wineries early next month, stay tuned for Chile’s newest wine news!