Explorations - (Page 100)
Chile’s Fruit of the Vine NEARLY 500 YEARS AGO, SPANISH CONqUISTADORS ASSEMBLED ARMADAS, HUNTED TREASURE AND COLONIZED CONTINENTS. BUT TO WINE LOVERS, THEIR MOST SIGNIFICANT CONqUEST INVOLVED A DELICATE VINE PLANTED TENDERLY IN CHILEAN SOIL. From gold and silver to red and white Unable to claim the New World riches they had hoped for, the Spanish sought ownership of Chile’s land — planting their native Vitis vinifera vines. Courtesy of the region’s ideal elevation and climate, the vines flourished and Chile began producing some of the best wine grapes in the world. By the 18th century, the French introduced their own grapevine varietals, specifically Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Imported French rootstock, coupled with overseas experience in Bordeaux winemaking, has had a profound influence on Chile’s success. In fact, original French vines continue to grow in the region today. Geographically gifted Each of Chile’s wine regions boasts its own claim as a top wine producer. Aconcagua’s Casablanca Valley wins the prize for white wine with eight wineries and over 10,000 acres of vines. The Valley Central region — including the renowned Maipo and Maule subregions —produces and sells the vast majority of Chilean wines due in part to its close proximity to Santiago. Wineries such as Coquimbo in the north are connected to a natural harbor for ease of exportation. International spotlight Chile is blessed with rich soils, rainy winters and warm, dry summers — conditions well-suited to growing perfect grapes. Isolated from other parts of the world by the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountains, Chilean grapes are nearly absent of pests and diseases that plague wine communities elsewhere. After years of keeping its wine production to itself, Chile experienced a wine renaissance in the 1980s — increasing from 12 wineries in 1995 to over 70 in 2005. Chile is now the fifth largest exporter of wines to the United States, and over a dozen of its wineries have achieved international recognition. A wine tour will leave you relaxed, satisfied — and mindful of the past, when a glass of Chilean wine could warm the heart of even the toughest conquistador. The French InFluence Imported French rootstock, coupled with overseas experience in Bordeaux winemaking, has had a profound influence on Chile’s success. In fact, original French vines continue to grow in the region today. 100 E xplorations
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