Chile has a long and rich wine history which dates back to the Spanish conquistadors of the 16th century, who were the first to discover that the wonderful climate and fertile soils of this South American country were ideal for vine cultivation. It has only been in the past forty or fifty years, however, that Chile as a modern wine producing nation has really had an impact on the rest of the world. Generally relatively cheap in price,Whilst being widely regarded as definitively 'New World' as a wine producing country, Chile has actually been cultivating grapevines for wine production for over five hundred years. The Iberian conquistadors first introduced vines to Chile with which to make sacramental wines, and although these were considerably different in everything from flavor, aroma and character to the wines we associate with Chile today, the country has a long and interesting heritage when it comes to this drink. Chilean wine production as we know it first arose in the country in the mid to late 19th century, when wealthy landowners and industrialists first began planting vineyards as a way of adopting some European class and style. They quickly discovered that the hot climate, sloping mountainsides and oceanic winds provided a perfect terroir for quality wines, and many of these original estates remain today in all their grandeur and beauty, still producing the wines which made the country famous.
Pinot Gris :Of similar origin to Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris owes most of its American popularity to Oregon winemakers (though the Willamette Valley version bears little resemblance to Italy's Pinot Grigio!). It is much less perfumed that Gewurztraminer, with very little aromatic quality. It makes up for that with its food versatility and rich extract of tree fruits such as peaches and pears. Pinot Gris exhibits and exciting spicy quality and acidity in the mouth.
Pinot Gris is generally found wherever Pinot Noir is grown, especially in France where it is to be found in Burgundy, but nowadays it is better known in Alsace. There are plantings in Germany, Italy and in Central and South-East Europe, in U.S.A. where small plantings have been established in several states, and in Australia.
In Australia, although a variety bearing that name was introduced in 1832, it is only in the 1990s that the true variety has achieved recognition by growers and consumers, with the most important but small plantings located in Victoria, and Tasmania and South Australia.
In Australia the varietal label Pinot Gris will usually indicate a wine made in the full-bodied style of Alsace in France and Germany, whilst the label Pinot Grigio will usually indicate that the wine is made in the dry, lighter, Italian-influenced style.
Chile is a fascinating country when it comes to wines and viticulture, and by far the most internationally renowned wine region in the country is the Valle Central. This expansive valley is located close to the Chilean capital of Santiago, and stretches between the Maipo Valley and Maule Valley, a long, winding fault through the mountainous regions of the country which is now almost completely covered by vineyards producing wines of exquisite character. The region itself may well be associated with the 'New World' of wines, but in actual fact, vineyards have been cultivated around the Maipo valley since the 16th century, when settlers from Europe brought vines across the ocean with which to make sacramental wines. A wide range of grape varietals thrive in the hot climate of Valle Central, from the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot vines the country is most famous for, to Syrah, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Carmenere.