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All podcast music: “Café connection” by morgantj / CC BY 3.0, ©2009 – Licensed under Creative Commons 
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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.


Show notes...

The overview...

  • 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, Santiago
  • 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 consumption
    • 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). 
    • Pirque 
      • 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 good tannin
    • Puente Alto -- most expensive Cabernet in Chile
      • Alluvial soil means lower vigor, concentrated berries. Tannin with minerality  
    • 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 country.
    • 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 herbaceousness.
  • 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 2016!


And thanks to this week's sponsors!

YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help!Check it out today:



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