Northern Chile offers great potential for non-traditional grape varieties

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Chilean producers in the northern valleys of Elqui and Limarí are reporting “commercial promise” for a range of off-the-wall varieties outside Chile’s top-five most-planted grapes.

 

Trials of Pinot Noir, Malbec and Riesling are demonstrating that cool climate growing conditions can “produce something completely different from the other Chilean regions,” according to Giorgio Flessati, winemaker at Vina Falernia and Vina Mayu, who hailed the varieties as “ones for the future”.

 

Flessati is also experimenting with producing a still wine from Pedro Ximenez grapes normally used for Pisco which has “great minerality and aromas”, he told Harpers as part of our tour of the region.

 

Tabali has similarly seen a surge in demand for its Reserve Moscatal made from Pisco grapes, with production up from 500 cases to 2000 cases.

 

Pinot Noir from the cool climate valley of Limarí could be the next big thing, added Tabali’s commercial director Raul Beckdorf. Its Talinay vineyard next to the Fray Jorge National Reserve is the only vineyard in Chile planted on 100% limestone soil, giving its Pinot Noir “a distinctive earthy character”, Beckdorf said.

 

At Tamaya in Limarí , Sangiovese and Malbec are being developed for their potential as single varietal wines, rather than as blending components. The producer’s T Limited Release Malbec 2011 is the first 100% Malbec from Limarí , claimed commercial director Diego Callejas, and it will hit the UK in March next year.

 


Syrah has the potential to be “a unique propositon from Elqui,” according to San Pedro’s regional director for Europe Felipe Bravo, who said the variety, which is both “elegant and concentrated”, can offer “outstanding value for money”.

 

Bravo added that Pinot Noir and Riesling will be a greater focus for San Pedro in the future with both showing “commercial promise”.

 

* You can read a full write up from Harpers recent Chile Summit in the issue published on December 7. In it you can read the views of trade members from all sectors in the Chile “Convert vs Cynics” debate, expert off and on-trade analysis from Nielsen and CGA and the views of wine buyer Jo Ahearne MW, Christine Parkinson of Hakkasan and Raul Diaz of Jascots who conducted masterclasses at the summit covering issues including cool climate varieties, regional Sauvignon Blanc and Chile’s versatility for mid-priced wines on restaurant wine lists.

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