In an international endeavor to spread knowledge about Chilean wines, the Trade Commission of Chile hosted a portion of their Chilean Wine Tour 2012 in Chicago on Wednesday, October 3rd. The event featured a walk around tasting of Chile’s diverse wines. This was an exclusive chance to meet a group of Chilean wineries and entrepreneurs who showcased wines to potential importers, distributors, food service companies, retailers, wine journalists and consumers.
A little known fact to the average American, Chile has recently emerged as a world-class exporter of wine and aims to become the New World’s number one producer by 2020. According to the Trade Commissioner of Chile in Chicago, Juan Luis Palma, “Chile has the perfect combination of geography, climate fusion and types of soil which create the ideal variety of terroirs for wine production.”
The event featured a private seminar by Joshua Greene, Editor and Publisher of Wine & Spirits Magazine. This seminar focused on the exciting new VitiVinicultural Zonification system passed into law in Chile under Decree 464 in May 2011. Greene is passionate about Chilean wine, and particularly passionate about these advances in zonification, which permit both wine experts and the more casual consumer to clearly experience and taste the unique terroirs which identify premium, Chilean wine.
This new system creates three specific indications of quality – Costa, Entre Cordilleras, and Andes. Wine labels that display a denomination of origin can also include complementary information by using these new terms to reflect the influence of the Andes Mountains, the Intermediate Depression, and the Pacific Ocean, as long as the “sum of at least 85% of the volume of the components of the final blend of the wine come from areas that meet the conditions of the term indicated and that have been declared as such by the Chilean Agriculture and Livestock Service (SAG).”
Chilean specialists examined data on the highest temperatures registered during the warmest months of the year, the periods of frosts, and analyses of indigenous vegetation across all of the zones that produce wine grapes in Chile. This data, accumulated for many years, enabled a precise delimitation of specific areas of communities that represent a climate—with nuances—that confer a special quality to each of these terroirs.
According to René Araneda, President, Vinos de Chile:
The road to presenting this guide to Chile’s new geographic indications has not been easy, but it has certainly been interesting and educational for the wine trade. We formed a commission not only to define our country’s geography and determine how to represent it for each of our wines regions, but also to show the world Chile’s fantastic diversity as a producer of high quality wines and its resulting sense of origin.
The work is not finished, and there are still areas of recognized prestige that have not yet been distinguished as vitivinicultural areas under Decree 464. However, we believe that modifying the Decree to incorporate the use of the Complementary Denominations of Quality—Andes, Costa, and Entre Cordilleras— creates an enormous advance in favor of the Chilean wine trade and its Plan 2020 to become a leader in the production of sustainable and diverse Premium New World wines.
There is so much we can learn about the wines of Chile, their regions, their winemakers, and the stories behind the brands. Although most of the world knows well what great varietals and wines can be produced from this area of the world, the United States has just scratched the surface in our awareness and knowledge base.
Wine is more than California, or France, Italy, or even Spain. It is truly everywhere, and anywhere that the soil and climate will allow. With events like this, as well as consumer-focused tastings and smaller educational events, the opportunity comes to expand our palates, and embrace a global view of food and wine.
Tommy Hensel is a food, wine and spirits writer living in Chicago, IL. He frequently can be found dining solo (and with friends) throughout the city, and regularly writes at TableForOnePlease.com. This is his first article for Crave Local.