Sauvignon Blanc in Chile (4)

Sauvignon Blanc - Last Notes

In Chile, the granite soils of the Cordillera de la Costa are the oldest, followed in age by the Andes Mountains with its transverse mountain ranges and island hills. The new soils are mainly alluvial landfills in the Central Valley. There are important Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris plantations near the Pacific Ocean, in the Casablanca and Leyda valleys of the Cordillera de la Costa (wine subregions of Rapel and Maule), while Sauvignon vert is concentrated in the central depression (wine subregions of Maule and Rapel), where a large part of the Chilean vineyards are found.

Chilean viticulture extends 1,400 km from the north to the south of the country and is subject to a Mediterranean climate. This climate produces a gradual increase in rainfall and a drop in temperatures, ranging from very dry conditions with only 20 mm of rain per year in the Copiapó Valley, located at 27° of latitude, to very humid conditions with 1,500 mm of rain per year in Lake Ranco, located at 38° of latitude. The amount of rainfall determines if the region is arid, semi-arid, subhumid, or humid.

The geography of an area influences its climate, which can differ between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes. The climate along the Pacific coast is different from that of the same heights of the Cordillera de la Costa, while there is an intermediate condition between the highest peaks of the Cordillera de la Costa and the foothills of

 Los Andes, which is particularly hot on the eastern side of the Cordillera de la Costa. Finally, mountain conditions in the Andes range from 1,500 to 800 meters above sea level, depending on the latitude; the further north, the higher the altitude and the warmer the climate.

Sauvignon Blanc and the abundance of Sauvignon Gris, unlike Sauvignon Vert, are mainly grown in areas with a cool and coastal climate, such as the Casablanca, Leyda, San Antonio valleys and the coastal part of the Limarí region. In addition, vineyards are currently being planted at the base of the Andes Mountains (wine-growing areas of Cachapoal and Colchagua and

sectors of the Maule wine subdivision, such as Molina, San Rafael and Colbún) and in humid areas with a Mediterranean climate located in the Austral and Southern wine regions. In all these areas, the wines produce an organoleptic quality characterized by a powerful aromatic expression, freshness in the mouth due to their high acidity and low pH, as well as a robust mineral character. If Sauvignon Blanc is cultivated in hotter climates of the central depression, the positive characteristics described here for cool climates tend to decrease, as does its longevity.

The higher heat tolerance of Sauvignon Vert allows it to give off a strong and sophisticated aroma in the Central Valley, where it is mainly cultivated; however, the aroma is even more powerful and elegant in colder climates. In addition to its aroma, the body of Sauvignon Vert is more pronounced than that of Sauvignon Blanc, making it a great addition to the latter in quantities of up to 15% as allowed by Chilean law (SAG). In addition, as the wine ages, your body will give off a mellow taste.

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It should not be assumed that Sauvignon Blanc wines have played down the importance of Sauvignon Vert. In some cases, Sauvignon vert is still used alone or as an element of a blend. In addition, there are cases in which Sauvignon vert wines are exported under the Sauvignon vert label. In this way, Sauvignon vert expands the concept of “Sauvignon” in Chile, in the same way that Sauvignon Gris does. These grape varieties give rise to different wines, since they are different varieties.

Contemporary winemaking methods have allowed us to distinguish and savor their qualitative and sensory distinctions. If we adopt a broad view of the “Sauvignon” concept, we don’t have to reject any of these varieties; on the contrary, the variety they bring to the buyer is something that the buyer values a lot. As a result, the purchaser has several opportunities to enjoy a Sauvignon Blanc, its “brother” Sauvignon Gris and its “cousin” Sauvignon Vert. Chilean viticulture encompasses all three varieties, which means that they can fully utilize the concept of “Sauvignon” and the purchaser can benefit from the diversity it offers.

Chardonnay harvest, vintage 2012

In 2013, Chilean Sauvignon Blanc wines received considerable international recognition (Brethauer, 2013). The Concours Mondial du Sauvignon also awarded Chilean Sauvignon Blanc. These awards reflect the changes that have occurred, the varied nature of the products and the region of origin, leading to commercial success in markets such as the United Kingdom, the US, Ireland, Holland, Canada and Japan, to name a few, which has resulted in an increase in exports. Thus, the percentage of Sauvignon Blanc wines from one vintage to another is one of the lowest in Chile, with only 7.9%.

As Chile continues to gain influence in the international wine industry, the area of Sauvignon Blanc vineyards is expanding and the production of Sauvignon Blanc wines is increasing.

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