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Chile, that long narrow country of South America, with the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Andes Mountains to the east - just 100m/160km dividing them. Furthermore, the Atacama Desert to the north and chilly Pategonia in the south all combine to make a great mixture of climate and growing conditions. Vines were introduced, over a period of 300 years, by Spanish and French settlers but for most of the 20th Century wine produced was mainly for local consumption. Growing areas encompassed the Coast, Central Plain and the Andes; distinct environments all, but a Mediterranean climate, rather dry and therefore healthy and well-suited to organic and biodynamic growing methods.
The Bordeaux-emanating Carménère was considered the signature grape but thankfully this has been augmented by Pinot Noir and Syrah. Whites include good quality Chardonnay, Viognier, Semillon, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc (whispered comparisons with N.Z. no less.) Concha y Toro is by far the largest wine producer overall without, it appears, loss of quality and is part of a joint venture with Baron Philippe de Rothschild. Another notable ‘marriage’ would be that of Casa Lapostolle and the Marnier family of ‘Grand Marnier’.
The wines of Errázuriz, De Martino, Viña Leyda, Santa Rita, Viña Montes, Miguel Torres, the Garage Wine company, Caliterra and so many more are today ranked amongst the finest in the world for their award-winning quality and flavour and for the dedication of their winemakers who have transformed this land into a viticultural paradise.
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