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Chile has become a fascinating country for wine. While much of Chile is associated with rich red wines, made primarily from Merlot, Casablanca Valley is going to great lengths to prove to the world how flexible and varied the terroir of this Latin American country can be. In Casablanca Valley, you’ll find many of the big name grape varietals, including the country’s classic Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blancs, but also a strong focus on aromatic varietals, including Viognier, Gewurztraminer and Riesling. All of these thrive in the favorable climatic conditions and mineral-rich sandy soils the valley offers, and result in a beautiful set of wines which blur the line between the old world and the new.
Casablanca Valley is situated sixty miles northwest of the country’s capital, Santiago, and as far as wine regions go, it’s a very young one. The first vines of this region were planted in the 1980s, in an experimental move that wanted to make the most of the long, warm summer days which were tempered by winds and fog coming off the nearby Pacific Ocean. The relatively cool climate results in grapes which are remarkably balanced, making wines which are highly sophisticated and complex, and full of the finest features of their unique terroir.
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.
The green skinned grapes of the Sauvignon Blanc varietal had their origins in Southern France, where they are still widely grown and used for many of the excellent young and aged white wines the region is famous for. Today, however, they are grown in almost every wine producing country in the world, and are widely revered for their fresh and grassy flavors, full of tropical notes and refreshing, zesty character. Sauvignon Blanc grapes thrive best in moderate climates, and ripen relatively early in the year. This has made them a favorite for many wineries in the New World, where they can still produce healthy and high yields in the earlier part of the summer before the temperatures become too hot. Too much heat has a massively adverse effect on Sauvignon Blanc, as the grapes become dull in their flavor, and the wine produced from them loses all its unique character and high points. As such, Sauvignon Blanc farmers have had a lot of trouble from global warming and climate change, as they are being forced to harvest their crops increasingly earlier in the year when it is cool enough to do so.