Aug 26, 2018
Is there still a place where you can get top wines of a
region for an affordable price? YES! The Maipo Valley of Chile has
some of the best Bordeaux-style reds & Cabernet Sauvignon in
the world. You'll learn all about what's here, including top
- First we give an overview of the Maipo, also known as the
'Bordeaux of South America', where rich, fruity Cabernet
Sauvignon is its most celebrated wine style.
- Maipo's location: just south of the capital of
- Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon is king but
also some Carménère, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay, Sauvignon
- Chile's Cabernet Advantages: low costs,
lack of vine pests (we mention phylloxera, if you don't know
what it is, here's a great link to learn more about this
vine-killing pest) and diseases and its dependably dry,
warm summers with plentiful and regular supply of water from the
melted snow of the Andes.
We dig into climate, soil, and
- Geography: The area is at
the northern end of Chile's Central Valley. Sandwiched between
the Coastal Range in the west and the Andes Mountains in the
- Climate: Mediterranean with lots of
- Soils: Sandy and gravel to the east, more
clay to the west. Colluvial (sedimentary rock from mountains),
alluvial (sedimentary rock deposited by rivers)
We talk History...
- First vineyards in 1540s
- In 1800s viticulture expanded as entrepreneurial Chileans, rich
from mineral mining traveled to France, returned home and made
grand wine estates in the French style: Cousiño Macul, Concha
Y Toro and Santa Rita founded then
- Much for the 20th was a slow down in quality and
- By the mid 1990s: international interest, investment in
modern equipment and vineyard techniques has made Maipo's Cabernet,
especially, a global superstar
Dork out: Subregions
- There are three: Alto Maipo, Central Maipo and Maipo Bajo. Alto
is the most famed.
- Alto Maipo (or Upper Maipo)
- Most prestigious of Maipo's viticultural areas.
- Sub-areas: Macul, Puente Alto, Pirque, Alto Jahuel and Huelquén
-- some of the world's best Cabernet
- Can have a minty or eucalyptus note
- Puente Alto and Pirque are top areas of the Alto Maipo (like
Pauillac in Bordeaux).
- South of Puente Alto, and the differences between these
two regions is small
- Colluvial, volcanic soils --free-draining, stony nature,
- Dry area -- stresses the vines, more-concentrated berries with
- Puente Alto -- most expensive Cabernet in
- Alluvial soil means lower vigor, concentrated berries. Tannin
- Top Wines:
- Concha y Toro Don Melchor ($125); Concha y Toro-Mouton
Rothschild joint venture, Almaviva ($140); Santa Rita Casa
Real ($85) and Errazuriz’s Viñedo Chadwick ($400, The Berlin
Tasting of 2004 put it against Chateaux Lafite, Latour and Margaux
of Bordeaux and Italians Sassicaia and Tignanello. 36 European
judges voted Vinedo Chadwick as the top wine)
- Central Maipo (sometimes called Maipo Medio)
- Warmest and driest of the three Maipo Valley sub-regions,
requires drip irrigation
- Vineyards along the Maipo River, alluvial soils.
- Soils are more clay-based and fertile -- less-refined wine
- Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon but Carmenere
does well with warmer temps
- Maipo Bajo (or lower Maipo)
- Includes the towns of Isla de Maipo and Talagante
- More winemaking than viticulture: Undurraga, De Martino, Santa
Ema wineries make wines with with grapes from all over the
- Some viticulture near the river, cool breezes so Chardonnay and
Sauvignon Blanc do well here, some Cabernet
What to expect...Maipo Cab flavors
- Chilean character: blackcurrant, licorice or
- Maipo specifically: herb, eucalyptus with freshness and
good acidity, moderate tannins
- Traditional producers: Carmen, Santa Rita, Concha y Toro
and Cousiño Macul.
- Less conventional producers: Viña Antiyal, Haras de Pirque, El
Principal, Portal del Alto.
Here's a snap of the bottle I mention in the podcast:
Mine was a
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