• Wine regions

    Wine from Chile

    The Chilean wine cultivating history dates back from the 16th century. Like in Argentina, it was the Spanish conquistadors that brought the vines and planted the seed in many peoples minds. Passion meant that by the 20th century French wine varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot were introduced.

    Being such a narrow country, Chile’s climate is dominated by the Andes to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. They both help with grape growing, the Pacific offers moisture while the close proximity of the Andes mean for a big difference in temperature between day and night. The drop in temperature during the night maintains the grapes acidity level.

    Vintage Variation is not that exploited. The weather is consistent from year to year, again this is all due to the isolation that the Andes produce. The Atacama Desert to the north and the Antarctica to the south create a unique stable balance.

    The geographical positioning and isolation of Chile also means that the phylloxera disease, which proved to be a big problem for the rest of the world, has not affected these grapes. This means that farmers don’t have to buy inorganic materials. Also, many vineyards do not have to graft their rootstock. These two elements contribute to the downsize in prices.

    Wineries have sprung all over the country like mushrooms after a rain, the number growing from 12 in 1995 to 70 in 2005. The industry expanded to the point that Chile is the 5th biggest wine exporter in the world, its like the Chileans where waiting for the Spanish, having heard rumors of the wines. The wine producing regions are as follows:

    It is the northernmost region. The desert climate means that very little table wine is produced. The dry heat make the grapes to loose a lot of their juice and so the resulting wines are sweet and strong.

    Actually, there is only a thin strip along the coast where vine growing is possible. This region is more knwon for the Pisico, a brandy-like spirit which has been produced since the Spanish colonization.

    Like the Atacama, this region is more known for the Pisico, but it also produces table wines made from grape blends containing Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah.

    It mostly produces red wines which tend to be a little more stronger due to the dry heat, this is also the case with white wines.

    The winegrowing areas of this region follow the rivers that flows through it, its water being used to irrigate the vines. A subregion worth mentioning is Casablanca which has been compared to California wines.

    The opinion that Aconcagua is not a particularly good region for wine making has been debunked recently, modern Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot proving the opposite.

    Covering the O’Higgins and Maule regions this is the most productive wine region in Chile, Some of it’s international reputation is owed to the proximity to the capital Santiago.

    The Maipo Valley, like the Rapel wine region, is mostly known for the Cabernet Sauvignon it produces. The characteristics include high salinity and low potassium level which affect grapevines. The Maule region also suffers from low potassium and nitrogen levels.

    The conditions in this area are a bit more challenging. Higher rainfall, strong winds and broader extremes mean that farmers need a bonus of patience and nerve. Nonetheless cool-climate varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir have been grown successfully.

    This region is also the place where jug wines come to life. Pais is also a wine which is mass produced. Some even experimented with the German varietal Gewürztraminer.

    All in all Chilean wines have ranked very high in international competitions and there seem to be no signs that quality will fade anytime soon.

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  • Wine regions

    California wine defines the “new world” style

    California wines have only recently came into the spotlight but are serious competition for the established worldwide wine makers. The famous Napa Valley is the birthplace of some of the finest quality wines in California.

    Today the world of wine revolves around two major types of producers. First you have the Old World which consists of France, Italy, Germany and the like. Then you have the New World with New Zealand, South Africa and California. All are among the best in the world.

    Incredible vistas await those who visit California’s wine country. Photo via Flickr.

    California is a state that has had a troubled past regarding red and white wine making. A series of vine diseases that seriously impaired any ability to produce wine. Coupled with a prohibition to create alcoholic beverages by way of law, you can understand California’s slump starting around the beginning of the 20th century.

    However today California is among the top 5 wine producers in the world. Both in terms of quality and quantity. For example Napa Valley has continuously made award-winning, jawdropping red wines that time and time again prove that France is not the sole contender to the number one status.

    Popular red wines in California

    Most of California’s red wine types consist of the following wine types. You will see many familiar faces with not too many new wine choices. This is because California is intent on producing what people are known to like rather than try something completely different. Here are the most common California red wine types:

    Sauvignon has been one of the top wine types for many years. For this reason it now has a huge reputation and wine lovers consistently choose this red wine as their companion. In California it is a pretty popular type yet a special mention is in order towards Napa Valley where Cabernet Sauvignon is the red king.

    Cabernet Sauvignon is a complicated red wine. It gets many different flavors such as green olives or black currant. It makes for fabulous wines both young and old. When drunk young the best matches are robust meaty dishes. The older Cabernets have much more power and can stand up to many cheeses.

    Pinot Noir is among the most annoying grapes you can come across. It is very hard to grow successfully but if you manage to do so you will get an excellent unadorned red wine. Compared to Cabernet Sauvignon it is a tad bit lighter and has slightly less body.

    However it makes for an excellent pair when confronted with beef dishes as well as pasta and fish. Still Pinot Noir is drunk rather young but the best wines are the ones that can age around a decade. This only happens in the best vintage years.

    Zinfandel is pretty popular in California in it’s red variety. Most restaurants and wineries enlist this red wine as it is a staple in California. Zinfandel is very popular in California but you can find Californian Zinfandel in many other countries as well.

    This red wine type works very well with food. And anything between pizza and filet Mignon is a good pairing with this red wine. This is because the grape is very versatile and can adapt to many styles of food.

    Merlot is your standard in terms of wine tasting. It has a full body and a deep overtone of reddish flavor. It makes excellent pairings with red meat and pasta. This wine is the common choice of new wine lovers since it’s not exaggerating in any way.

    This is why it’s regarded as the standard red wine. When you want to drink Merlot consider pairing it with an Italian dish. Pick your favorite as it will contrast well with pretty much anything.

    California also produces a fair amount of Syrah wine. Syrah has a wild nature, but it’s similar to Pinot Noir albeit the stronger red tones. It is still a popular wine all over California.

    The stronger variety in this red wine comes from it’s tannins. So whenever you order a glass of Syrah you can still expect new flavors even if you’re a seasoned wine lover. Syrah pairs excellently with Mexican and Cuban dishes and spicy foods in general.

    As you can see California is home to many red wine types and it’s wine regions create smashing bottles that rank very high in world competitions. The familiar red wine types you can find in California make for a sure base in your repertoire whenever you are considering a food and wine pairing.

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