May 4, 2020
Cool climate wines are in high demand, as many of us seek wines
that are on the lighter side but still have fruit and ripeness. We
usually turn to places of high latitude for that, but on this show
we tell you about an unlikely region for some of the best and yet
most affordable cool climate wine around: the Casablanca Valley,
San Antonio, and Leyda Valley -- all in a small area at 33˚south
Photo: Kingston Family
Here are the show notes:
Both located in the far western coastal areas of the Aconcagua
wine region, Casablanca and San Antonio are in mountainous coastal
country that experiences cool to cold breezes due to the Humboldt
current coming up from Antarctica. There are a handful of producers
that make wines from these areas, but thankfully most of them are
widely distributed so we have a chance to try these acidic yet
fruity wines with little hunting around.
Valle de Casablanca
- Casablanca and Valparaíso are famed (at least in their
homeland) and were voted, as a unit, as one of the 10 Great Wine
Capitals of the world. The food, wine, and the ease of visiting
vineyards make it an ideal destination.
- Until the 1980s, livestock grazed and grain grew where
vineyards would soon pop up. It was then that Pablo Morandé,
who was working for the giant winery Concha y Toro, realized that
the Casablanca Valley had tremendous potential to make cool climate
wines like Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Sauvignon Blanc.
- Within a few decades the area was thriving. Producers set up
shop, including: Montsecano, Kingston Vineyards, Casas del
Bosque, Veramonte, Loma Larga, Quintay, Cono Sur – and Pablo
Morandé's Bodegas Re
- Casablanca is in the eastern part of Valparaíso province
just 30km/20 miles from the Pacific Ocean at its furthest
- At 33˚S, the Humboldt Current from the Antarctic is the only
reason viticulture can work so well here. The area has cool
early morning fog, which both depresses temperature and keeps the
air most -- important in this water-deprived area. Cool afternoon
breezes and regular cloud cover slow the ripening period of the
grapes. It is so cold here that spring frosts can be an
- Similar to Santa Barbara, in California Casablanca is a
transverse valley – it runs east to west, funneling in cool ocean
air and creating wines that are flavorful yet highly acidic.
- Look for excellent Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir,
Syrah, Viognier, Gewurztraminer, and Riesling
Valley and it's Zone, Leyda
- In province of San Antonio, only 55 miles (90km) west of
central Santiago and south of Casablanca is San Antonio, which was
planted a decade later than Casablanca, in the late 1990s. It is
similar to its neighbor to the north, in that it is
also heavily influenced by the effects of the ocean but here
the mountains turn north to south again, and the area must rely on
a closer proximity to the ocean and wind gaps in the coastal range
to provide cool air.
- This is an up-and-coming area with a limited number of
producers, many of them small.
- Sauvignon Blanc is the flagship wine but there is some great
Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and sparkling wine as well.
Valley is sub-region or zone of San Antonio
- The valley is 9 miles from the coast and in some areas the
vineyards are on the west (sea-facing) side of the coastal mountain
range, so it’s quite a bit cooler than Casablanca, which is on the
other side of the hills.
- The sharp diurnals, poor soils, and long growing season make
Leyda's wine display fresh fruit flavors, ripe tannins, with high
- Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, and Merlot
- Unfortunately Leyda's growth is limited because it is so dry
here. When winemaking began here, a 5 mile pipeline from the Maipo
River in the south was built to irrigate vineyards. Those areas
without water rights can't grow grapes, even if the exposures and
soils are good. Until that gets resolved, Leyda will be limited to
a few players. Viña Leyda and Garcés Silva are two wineries here –
but Montes Alpha, Undurraga and others source grapes to make
wine from here.
These wines are all worthy of your time and attention! Go and
Photo: Kingston Family
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