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Chile 101

guest post by: Constance Chamberlain

Chile has exploded onto the wine scene in the past few years particularly because they consistently offer premium wines with a good quality-price-ratio across the spectrum. Coupled with good value, the wines of Chile really communicate their sense of place throughout the country’s 14 wine growing regions, each offering something unique to discover.

Part of this is thanks to the four natural barriers: the Atacama Desert to the north, the Andes to the East, Patagonia to the South, and the Pacific Ocean to the West. In fact, despite being a country that is over 2,700 miles long, Chile’s climatic differences vary greater from east to west than from north to south—the proximity to the coast or the mountains, and the altitude influence the wine even more than the latitude. In addition to the creation of unique microclimates, these natural barriers act as a protective shield and to date Chile remains one of the only places in the world that has not been affected by phylloxera, the louse that destroyed much of the world’s vineyards in the 1800’s.   So unlike vines in most of the rest of the world which are grafted onto phylloxera resistant American rootstocks, Chile’s vineyards are on natural roots which many specialists say contributes to truly unique wines.

The sheer size of Chile also offers great opportunity for variation in terroir and specialization of varieties in certain regions. As a result, wines that fall into this category have really been a focus of the winemakers and vineyard plantings have expanded further north and south over the past few years.

Chile is dominated by red wines by 70%, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon, but with the growth of coastal regions, Sauvignon Blanc has also taken a share of the spotlight as well as other cool climate wines such as Syrah, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay. Smaller projects throughout the country have allowed various grapes to shine such as with dry-farmed, old vine Carignan in the south.

Perhaps Chile’s most unique variety is Carmenere – a red grape that was thought to be extinct after phylloxera hit Bordeaux in the 1800’s. However, in 1994 careful analysis revealed that the once called “Chilean Merlot,” was in fact Carmenere.

Chile’s wine industry is really a mix of old and new world. Many of the world’s most prominent winemaking families such as Lafite Rothschild and Robert Mondavi, recognized the country’s potential long ago and have been producing wines in this region for decades. Additionally, many of Chile’s young winemakers have spent time training in prestigious winemaking regions such as Bordeaux so stylistically they are quite similar. These techniques combined with new technologies consistently allow Chilean wines to outshine their competitors.

Overall, the most important thing to remember about Chilean wine is this: quality-price-ratio. It’s unlikely that one will find the diversity of wines, but with such consistent quality at an affordable price anywhere else in the world making Chile a natural choice for a go-to bottle of wine.

 

What Shizuku teaches us about wine

Guest Post from Cynette Montoya:

Loosely translated, “Les Gouttes de Dieu” is French for “Drops of God.” We all know how the French and their country are known for great food and amazing wine. But interestingly enough, it’s a Japanese manga (comic) that has opened a whole new world to wine appreciation, taking inspiration from French origins. Kami no Shizuku is a New York Times Best Selling Japanese manga series revolving around wine.

Perhaps the biggest attraction of the manga is how Shizuku Kanzaki, the protagonist, describes the growth of his relationship with wine. His father was a world-famous wine critic but Shizuku is the opposite. At first, he wanted nothing to do with wine to the point of loathing it. As the series progresses, we find him opening himself up to the world of wine and wine cellars and seeing through his father’s eyes just how wonderful and enigmatic that world is.

A taste of life…

Each episode showcases Shizuku’s uncanny abilities to describe his experiences from his strong sense of taste and smell as he competes with another famed connoisseur for his father’s fortune by uncovering the “Twelve Apostles.” But what’s brilliant about this seemingly simple series is how Shizuku describes his feelings for each and every new wine he tastes as he searches for the right match for the Twelve Apostles. At one point, he muses that we never realize how special wine actually is and how so much effort is put into manufacturing wine to suit even the most complicated of situations.

Wine SwirlTaking a cue from that line, we’ve also come to realize just how significant a role wine plays in our lives, especially when we celebrate special occasions. We choose specific wines to go with even just lunch or dinner or when we engage in intimate get-togethers with friends and loved ones. Also, we try to find the most compatible pairing of wine and food to bring out the best flavors in both. In a sense, wine defines not just our activities but also our honest feelings towards life itself. That’s why there are times when Reds seem to be the best choice for our palate or moments when only Whites can really tickle our taste buds.

In emphasizing the value of wine, Shizuku’s father made mention in more than just a few episodes of wine storage and how essential it was in bringing out the finest flavors. Indeed, maintaining the ideal wine storage conditions is a critical task because wine breathes through the cork and ages in the process. But you would want your wines to age at an elegant pace and achieve the peak of taste conditions. Only then would you or anyone else be really able to appreciate and savor the “feelings” conveyed by each bottle you store.

…comes from the bottle!

FCustom Wine Cellaror this reason, the creation of wine cellars has become quite a detailed project. There are several essential aspects to consider, from the maintenance of the ideal wine cellar temperature from 55-58 degrees down to humidity levels at 55-75 degrees. Picking out the most suitable wine refrigeration system is also another consideration as well as building a wine racking system that would not just “store” your collection but keep them in secure and safety storage.

Indeed, because wine is most sensitive to environmental changes which can affect the aging process, even the littlest details matter. An example of this would be the choice of materials you pick for your wood wine racks and other wine cellar furniture. You would need to go with a wood choice that is durable enough to withstand decades of wine storage without falling prey to rot, mildew, decay, and insects and flexible enough to create the right configurations for your wine racking system.

Looking at everything from another angle, it’s quite obvious that a relationship with wine is an evolving one. Your love and appreciation for wine can only deepen as your knowledge and understanding of it also matures with time, along with the wine that matures in your wine cellars. And yes, we can grow to love wine even more, especially when we care enough to preserve its best flavors. Keep in mind that the taste of wine can be equated to one’s honest feelings. You can never hide or deny a good wine, a great wine, just as you cannot conceal a bitter one. Love wine and enjoy life’s tastes to the fullest!

Author: Cynette Montoya is a wine storage writer for Wine Cellar Innovations. She enjoys talking about style, design, and customizing wine cellars . Check out her fun and upbeat articles in the Wine Cellar Innovations Blog on wine cellar transformations.  You can follow them on Twitter and Facebook.