Chile: Not Just Another New World Producer
Over the past decade, Chilean wines have become increasingly popular and Chile has established itself as one of the best wine producing regions in the world. Rather than just becoming another ‘New World’ producer, Chilean winemakers have been busy forging a clear identity for the country, which now produces some of the purest expressions of wine in the Bordeaux family of grapes; including Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc, Merlot, Carmenere and, increasingly, Malbec.
There is already a real focus on some of the newer regions, like Limari and Elqui, and aromatic wines such as Gewürztraminer and Riesling are now being produced in the south. The country is gaining a real sense of pride in the rediscovery of heritage varietals and areas, for example, the Maule Valley has long been seen as a workhorse region for grape growing but is now one of the most exciting. It is home to the Vigno project, which is bringing attention and high level production values to Carignan, currently one of the most popular grapes in the world. In addition, the old vine Pais, often used as a base for the cheapest wines, is now being used to make wine that could easily be mistaken for young Langhe Nebbiolo.
There are some amazing blends appearing that are being made with lesser-known varietals like Sangiovese, Malbec and even Pinot Noir. In the future we’re likely to see even more variety as talented winemakers branch out from the larger wineries into their own projects. This is something that has driven innovation in Australia, South Africa and California over the past two decades and, as this gathers momentum in Chile, some fascinating complexity will begin to be stitched into the Chilean wine tapestry.
This is an industry that is incredibly self-aware – already one of the largest producers of organic wine, the Chilean winemaking sector is in the middle of a self-certification process, encompassing viticulture and wine production. Social responsibility, energy efficiency and carbon emissions are being measured and steps are being taken to improve them. At Encirc Wines, we’re watching with interest to see what happens next, and are geared up to deliver real cost and efficiency savings to Chilean producers that are exporting to Europe.
Chile’s winemaking scene is constantly evolving and becoming increasingly exciting. I’m looking forward to seeing what the next wave of developments bring. Consumers in the UK should be excited too, as demand for these wines is primarily being driven by the Scandinavian markets so, for once, we’re playing catch up, and there are only good things to come.
Justin Knock, winemaking consultant at Encirc Wines