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 producers.
- 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 Chile,
- Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon is king but also some
Carménère, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc
- 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...
- 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 east
- Climate: Mediterranean with lots of sub-regions
- 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 Chile
- 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
- 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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