"With this, we are setting a benchmark for the quality and authenticity of Chilean wines all over the world."
In September 2012, a personal cool climate dream came true 350 kilometres further south for one of the big players on the Chilean wine scene: Eduardo Chadwick, owner of the traditional Viña Errazuriz, the vineyard Arboleda, and creator of the cult wine Seña, which was developed together with Robert Mondavi. Seven years after planting the first vines, just twelve kilometres from the Pacific, the new growing region Aconcagua Costa received the official blessing of the authorities in the form of its own "Denominación de Origen" [Denomination of origin] (DO).
Chadwick planted 232 hectares there with Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah, all on a slope and with varying sun exposure: "With this, we are setting a benchmark for the quality and authenticity of Chilean wines all over the world." The Chardonnay Aconcagua Costa 2011, from the house of Errazuriz, was promptly awarded the best Chardonnay in the country at the Annual Wines of Chile Awards (AWoCa) in January 2013.
However, Chadwick is not the only "Grande" to recognise the extraordinary potential of the new DO. In an area of 84 newly established hectares, Aurelio Montes, also one of the most prominent faces in Chilean wine growing, is already producing – amongst other things – a Sauvignon Blanc whose very name shows the ambition concealed behind it: "Outer Limits". The Chilean wine journalist Eduardo Brethauer believes that it is another signpost to the future: "Enormous aromatic complexity with lots of body, a wine that is less impressive in the nose, and much more so on the palate. We have never seen anything like it before." Even Pinot Noir achieves interesting results in the cool climate of Aconcagua Costa. Louis-Michel Liger-Belair from the Chateau de Vosne-Ramanée has therefore been supporting Chadwick as an advisor for two years now.
In Valle de San Antonio, which includes the four sub-areas Leyda, Lo Abarca, Rosario and Malvilla, the vineyards are getting even closer to the sea: up to four kilometres away. In the last ten years, many new plantations have emerged there, from which come primarily very fresh, mineral-rich Sauvignon Blancs, Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs and Syrahs. Ten years ago, Maria Luz Marín, founder of the now highly regarded vineyard Casa Marín, broke with the dogma that white wine from Chile had to be as cheap as possible to be sold on the global export market.
When she put her first Sauvignon Blanc on offer at a British wine trade fair in 2003 for the equivalent of €30, she was almost declared crazy. But today she has made it. The strong willed Chilean has no worries about turnover, and the fact that her wine bagged the "Golden Trophy" two years ago, at the Concours Mondial de Sauvignon Blanc in France, was more than just late gratification for her.
The vineyard Aresti, actually located in Valle de Curicó, also recognised the potential of Leyda and produces a multi-layered mineral Sauvignon in small batches under the name of Trisquel, which was distinguished as the best white wine in Chile in 2012 at the Catad'Or Grand Hyatt.
There is no doubt: The long, narrow South American country has big plans for the future, and it is only just discovering and getting to grips with its diverse terroirs. Today, already the fifth largest wine exporter worldwide, Chile wants to double the value of its exports to US$3 billion by 2020. In 2012, there was an increase of 6% to 1.79 billion dollars, but a substantial part of this could be attributed to bulk wines. With the new cool climate grapes, Chile is constantly raising its profile – and showing the world that it can do much more than just fruity and "easy drinking".