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Chile - A New Wave of Great Wineries


Chile has always been a good producer, but, at present it seems to have elevated itself to the status of a great producer.

It is a proven fact that no wine producing country has come further during the past three decades to improve its standing in international wine circles than Chile. Once the horrendous political problems and the non-progressive economic atmosphere that those problems evoked were overcome during the late 1970’s, Chile’s wine industry stepped to the plate and has subsequently hit the proverbial home run. Fueled by a plethora of smaller, state-of-the- art artesian wineries (labeled by the international press as Chile’s New Wave Wineries), Chile’s status has risen mercurially until it today ranks on par with other truly great wine producing nations. Chile has always been a good producer, but, at present it seems to have elevated itself to the status of a great producer.

There are two reasons for such an occurrence. First, the resurgence of many older, established wine producers who upgraded their facilities and expanded their portfolios. These established wineries also included certain grape varietals that were internationally accepted as marquee varietals. Secondly, the newcomers to the Chilean wine spectacle (boutique-style wineries) were practically instantaneously successful and that fact created a competitively driven environment for the entire industry.

It is a joy to see such great wines emanating from practically all growing sections of the suddenly wine crazy country. Nearly perfect conditions are available throughout most of the Andean highlands that dominate Chile’s marvelous vineyard sites. Growers in many other countries lament the fact that their own vineyards pale in comparison to many of Chile’s quality growing areas. Some foreign wineries have actually established satellite winery operations in Chile to take advantage of both the climactic accommodations and the marketing potential of the growth spurt of Chilean wines as a whole.

Whereas, as late as two decades ago, only a handful of Chilean wines were available in restaurants and quality wine stores, it is now entirely possible to see large Chilean sections on wine lists and well-stocked Chilean sections in stores around the country. Many importers have chosen to import some of these smaller producers directly, a fact that makes for a fun environment when selecting new wines or trying to match specific dishes.

It will be interesting to see just how far this Chilean wine explosion will proceed. So far, there seems to be no reason for it to subside, and the straight fact is that Chile’s wines are continuing to improve. The Chilean winemakers have always counted on using a number of European winemaking techniques, and this has proven to be a wise choice over the years. With the excellent weather and productive Andean soils to bolster the actual rootstock, there seems to be no real end in sight for Chile’s continued wine growth. We look forward to featuring additional Chilean selections for our International Series.


  1. Domus Aurea
    2008 Cabernet Sauvignon
    Domus Aurea
    Malpo Valley, Chile
    International

    $51.00

    $60.00
    93 - Wine & Spirits
    id: 1082
    Special
    International
  2. Maquis
    2007 Proprietary Red Blend
    Maquis
    Chile
    International

    $16.00

    $18.00
    Exclusive Import
    id: 1083
    Special
    International
  3. William Cole
    2011 Sauvignon Blanc
    William Cole
    Chile
    International

    $9.75

    $11.00
    88 - Stephan Tanzer
    id: 1084
    Special
    International

Three Chilean winemakers proudly represent Chile's most celebrated wine regions.

Vina Maquis has the luxury of having two expert winemakers, Managing Director Ricardo Hurtardo and Chief Winemaker Juan Alejandro Jofre. Both men have extensive experience overseas, Hurtardo at the excellent 4th Growth, Chateau Branaire-Ducru, in the commune of St. Julien in Bordeaux. Hurtardo also worked for Charles Krug Winery in Napa Valley. Jofre had stints in New Zealand (Villa Maria Estate, Marlborough), Spain (Torrecorcos, Duero) and California, (Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates).

Viviana Fonseca graduated as an agronomist from the University of Chile and worked for several Chilean wineries. She met winemaker Roberto Millan at William Cole and eventually succeeded him as winemaker. Australian-based Peter Mackay also consults for this exceptional Chilean producer. Her wines are rich and textured in the style of many great Burgundian varietals. Fonseca’s wines are enjoyable with meals and seem to improve as the meal moves on.

Jean-Pascal Lacaze hails from a winemaking family in Bordeaux. He brings a French/Uruguayan/Chilean background to Domus Aurea that is both classical and well planned. He also serves a winemaker to several of the Clos Quebrada de Macul family of wines. Lacaze strives for specific, Bordeaux-style wines with great character and longevity. His wines will be around for many years to come.

About The Region

Domus Area: Located in Chile’s Central Valley, just outside Santiago, Domus Area enjoys single vineyard status for its 45 acres. Actually part of the sub region Maipo Valley, it is a warm-but-not-hot growing area that benefits from the rocky alluvial soils of the Maipo River. It receives less rainfall than most of the other Chilean growing regions, a fact that benefits its’ mostly cabernet and red varietal vines.

Vina Maquis: One of Chile’s best known growing areas, the Colchagua Valley is another sub region of the Central Valley. It is located south and west of Santiago and its westernmost boundaries almost touch the nearby Pacific Ocean. The Colchagua Valley is one of Chile’s largest planted regions with more than 61,000 total acres under vine. It benefits from its proximity to the Pacific and enjoys cooler nights and mornings that turn into much warmer days. Its predominant planted varietal is Cabernet Sauvignon, with additional red varietals (mostly Bordeaux) abundantly grown.

William Cole: Located close to Valpariso on the Pacific Coast, the Casablanca Valley is a sub region of the larger Aconcagua Valley. It is a relative newcomer to wine growing and a product of Chile’s explosion of wine growing and wine making. The Casablanca Valley’s first vineyards were planted during the mid-1980’s in its cool, coastal setting. A little over 12,000 acres are currently under vine with a large majority of Chardonnay serving as the area’s predominant varietal


Chilean Sea Bass with Potatoes


Ingredients

2 large sea bass fillets
2 medium potatoes
1 medium red onion
1 cup of white wine
salt to taste
3 Tbs. olive oil
black pepper
parsley
1 large tomato
1 bay leaf


Instructions

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Peel the potatoes and slice into thin slices. Peel the onion and chop lengthwise into thin slices as well. Using an oven safe dish or large pan, place the 3 Tbs. of oil in the dish and spread around the base of it. Create a bed of potatoes and onions over the oiled pan. Pour half of the wine over the potato and onion mixture and place the pan in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven after 10 minutes and place the sea bass on top of the potato and onion bed. Pour the rest of the wine over the sea bass. Salt and pepper the fish and the potato/onion bed. Drop in parsley, bay leaf, and tomatoes. Return the pan to the oven and increase the heat to 425 degrees. After 10 minutes, spoon some of the wine from the pan over the fish. Continue baking for another 5-10 minutes. Remove and enjoy!




Lime-Soaked, Cumin-Crusted Skirt Steak


Ingredients

2 lbs. skirt steaks
1 cup fresh lime juice

For the rub:
3 Tbs. cumin seeds
2 1/2 Tbs. minced garlic
1/3 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
salt & freshly cracked
black pepper

For the Relish:
1/2 cup finely chopped pitted green olives
1 tsp. chopped dried red chili pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbs. freshly cracked black pepper


Instructions

Place the steak in a shallow dish and pour the lime juice over it. Cover the dish and let it stand in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour, turning occasionally. Light up a fire in your grill. In a small bowl, combine all the rub ingredients and mix well. Remove the steak from the marinade, pat dry with paper towels, and rub it all over with the spice rub, pressing gently to be sure it sticks. When the fire has died down and the coals are hot, place the steak on the grill and cook until well seared on one side, about 4 minutes. Turn and continue to cook to the desired doneness, about 4 minutes more for rare. To check for doneness: Make a 1/4-inch cut in the thickest part of the meat and take a peek; it should be slightly less done than you like it. Remove the steak from the heat, cover it loosely with foil, and allow it to rest for 5 minutes while you make the relish. In a medium bowl, combine all the relish ingredients and mix well. Slice the steak as thin as possible against the grain and serve with the relish. Enjoy!



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