Over the past few decades, Chilean winemakers have been paying increased attention to the terroir of each valley in Chile. Extensive analysis of climate and soil has been conducted to ensure that grape varieties are grown in the areas best suited for each.
It’s important to recognize that Chile is a land of climatic diversity; there is more variation from East to West than there is from North to South due to the country’s geographical location. Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountains, Chile offers distinct microclimates throughout each of the 14 valleys that have been recognized for making exceptional wines.
Here’s a quick list of where to find some of Chile’s best examples of their star grapes.
Limarí: Although there are only 134 hectares of Chardonnay grown in the Limarí Valley, it is no surprise they’ve been gaining increased recognition. Do not be fooled by the region’s northern location, the Pacific Ocean creates an ideal climate for Chardonnay offering foggy, cool mornings and bright, warm afternoons. Here the limestone soils are mineral-rich and this is one of the characteristics you will also find in the wines. Chardonnay from this region is well-rounded with moderate acidity and full of fresh, tropical fruits as well as a distinct mineral character.
Leyda: If you’re looking for a cool, crisp Sauvignon Blanc in Chile, you need not look further than the Leyda Valley. The Leyda Valley is a subsection of San Antonio, which itself is a subsection of Aconcagua DO, but this little region has established a big name for itself. Wines here are grown close to the coast and the result is crisp, refreshing style of Sauvignon Blanc with a lean body that is bursting with minerality.
Alto Maipo: Continuing south, you will find yourself in the heart of Cabernet Sauvignon territory. The Alto Maipo is part of the larger Maipo Valley, but what sets the area apart is the unique influence of the Andes Mountains and the soils which consist of large alluvial stones, much like those found on the left bank in Bordeaux. Afternoons here are pleasantly warm, but mornings are cool as the sun must rise over the mountains on the Argentinean side before it shines on Chile. Add this high altitude of 1,300-2,600 above sea level and the cooling winds from the Pacific Ocean that sweep through at night and the climate is rather continental. The region features significant diurnal temperature differences between day and night which is ideal for ripening Cabernet vines. The result is a bold, elegant style of Cabernet Sauvignon that can rival even the best in the world.