Before long, we’re going to know a lot more about the fine wines of Chile.
Within just a few months, that country’s entire appellation system could be overhauled, the result of a joint effort involving the government and winegrowers.
In a nutshell, the intention is to get much more precise about the origins of any particular bottle of wine. Right now, a vast majority of Chilean wines come from the Valle Central. Look at a map of the country, and you’ll note that the Valle Central is adjacent to the capital city of Santiago.
You’ll find the “Valle Central” designation on a number of labels. However, you might also see names such as Maipo Valley… or Rapel Valley… or Curico Valley… or Maule Valley. Each is a sub-region within the Valle Central, much like Paso Robles is a sub-region within California’s Central Coast region.
Under the new plan, those sub-regions could be further divided. Rather than the boundaries overlapping political lines, they instead would be based on the uniqueness of an area’s soils, climate and so on.
As an example, the Maipo could easily be divided into three smaller areas: “Alto,” which would encompass vineyards close to the Andes… Central… and Coastal.
To some, adding sub-appellations might be confusing. But as far as I’m concerned, this is a great idea, the implementation of which is long overdue.
After a few vintages, we’re going to know that “X variety” from the Maipo Valley, or “Y variety” from the Maule Valley, is just as dependable as, say, Zinfandel from the Dry Creek Valley, or Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley. We’ll be able to make more informed buying decisions, if we’re willing to put in the time to become more informed.
And not to steal Martha Stewart’s thunder, but that’s a good thing.