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Extreme wines of Chile

I am lucky enough to have visited Chile twice now, and so I have something of a handle on the wine scene. For expediency I will ignore its rich history and get to the nub of where we are today in wine terms, qualitatively speaking, and in respect of its diversity, which is a leap forward from thirty or even twenty years ago, when their wines were still average to middling, quite honestly, or at least, most of them.  So, what has happened? Its geography hasn`t changed. It is still the thin strip of land on South America`s west side – the world`s narrowest country – 2,600 miles long, just 110 miles wide. It still has the high Andes at its back, to the east, the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Coastal Range between, through which the morning fog and sea breezes are drawn, cooling the grapes. And top and bottom respectively there is still the dry Atacama Desert, and the wet Patagonia fjords. The international wine grapes which so prosper there have also been around a long time. But not everywhere, which is to my point. Because in the pursuit of producing fine wines, brave winemakers have been venturing out these past decades to areas previously unexplored, to new coastal areas, and to difficult-to-navigate high altitude territories. While the main movement is west, others are planting at altitude elsewhere, to the east, and even to the extreme north, bordering the desert, as well as to the extreme south, where it rains cats and dogs, with winds so severe vines struggle to take hold. And yet the potential for making fine wine in these places has proven too tempting. The goal, always, in an otherwise warm climate country, is to plant vines in super-cool temperatures, providing wine grapes with long growing seasons which enable them to develop slowly to phenolic ripeness. It`s what it takes to get concentration, freshness, and character in wine, where warmer climes have always produced mediocrity. We call them extreme wines. I urge you to explore them! On offer in-store now.

 

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