Carmenere is now the area’s star grape
There are six Chilean winegrowing regions, all of which are located in the centre of the country:
Aconcagua, Casablanca, Maipo, Rappel, Maule and Bio-Bio. The first vines were planted here by 16th century conquistadores, first to produce wine for mass and eventually to drink with dinner. Things continued this way until the 19th century, when some inspired growers seized on the phylloxera crisis to make imitation Bordeaux from their vines, which had miraculously been spared. The results were highly lauded. In the 1980s, Chile began producing wines that would catch the attention of more discerning oenophiles, and today it is one of the top five wine exporting countries worldwide.
Thanks to its position between the Pacific Ocean and the Andean mountains, Chile has a surprisingly Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. The cool Humboldt Current blows off the water and up the mountainside. The grape vines, which are warmed by the day’s generous sun and cooled as the night falls, sink their roots firmly into the clay, stone and pebble soil.
Located between the cities of San Fernando and Santiago, this sub-region gets its name from the Cachapoal River, which runs through the valley. And yet, drip irrigation is used to hydrate the vines in the prevailing arid conditions. The temperature range in the valley is very broad, offering the perfect balance of summer sun and winter rain—ideal for growing exceptional red wines. Carmenere, a French variety that was believed to be wiped out by phylloxera, was resuscitated in Chile and is now the area’s star grape.