WINE SCHOOL 11 - 17 January 2021

REGION: Chile > Central Valley > Rapel Valley

Chile's most important wine region, Central Valley, is divided into four sub-regions: Curicó, Maipo, Maule and Rapel. Situated south of Santiago, the Rapel Valley region is bounded by the Andes to the east and the Pacific coast to the West.

The Rapel Valley is further divided into Cachapoal Valley to the north and Colchagua Valley to the south and the wines produced here are increasingly labelled using these names rather then Rapel Valley.

Key grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Malbec, Merlot

GRAPE: Carmenère

Before the deadly phylloxera outbreak at the end of the 19th century Carmenere was a leading light in Bordeaux. Its popularity plummeted in the twentieth century, as grafted versions were found to be temperamental yielders. However a dramatic reversal of fortune has seen Carmenere find a new home in Chile, where the longer growing season and lower rainfall seem to suit this grape very well.

Carmenere has a rich array of appealing attributes. Low acidity accentuates sweet blackcurrant or blackberry flavours, whilst a little bottle age can bring notes of liqourice and chocolate. Hints of pencil shavings or pine sometimes add a Cabernet Franc-like refinement. Carmenere is a highly companiable grape and blends brilliantly with Cabernet Sauvignon, adding freshness, grace and perfume. However, as Chilean vines begin to mature, more and increasingly impressive single variety bottlings are starting to emerge.

As the science and data supporting better matching of varieties to vineyards develops, will this grape - already highly accomplished - make exciting new journeys and find further international success?


Next week in WINE SCHOOL: Margaret River (Australia) & Viognier

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