Chile’s 2016 Vintage is “More Like Bordeaux”

A number of wine producers have explored the feels and flavours of Chile’s latest vintage, finding a distinct similarity to Bordeaux wine. Ideal Wine Company investigates.

Speaking to Decanter, winemakers explained that the cool, wet climate has had an effect on the finalisation of wine production.

Chilean wine

Chile is a major new world wine power. The coastal South American nation is an incredibly diverse wine maker, producing everything from whites such as Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay to reds like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec. With Chile’s wine making country stretching over 1000km, its annual vintages always vary significantly from region to region.

Chile experienced cooler and wetter weather than usual in the 2016 grape growing season, with some reports of high humidity. Decanter writes that this has made the 2016 vintage lighter than usual, with production dropping by 20% from 2015, to under 1bn litres. This may be the lowest total amount of wine produced in the country since 2010, but producers are excited about how it may taste. Decanter talked to producers from various Chilean regions.

Central valley regions  

Following this year’s El Niño weather cycle, the Chilean central valley wine making areas of Maipo, Cachapoal, Colchagua and Curico all experienced a cooler-than-average growing season. This brought on late grape maturation across the central valleys. Some producers were still seeing their fruit ripen during three days in mid-April when 200 millimetres of rain fell on the region.

The central valleys then experienced a cold snap, which made it harder for some producers to pick all their fruit on time, leading to falling wine volumes. But this weather had an interesting effect on central valley wine, according to Cachapoal-based wine maker Patrick Valette.

Commenting, he said; “It was a totally different vintage because of the El Niño affect… It is not a common vintage, it is more of a Bordeaux vintage in concept rather than a typical Chilean year. The average temperatures are much lower and the harvest was delayed.”

Coastal and northern regions

Chile’s coastal wine making regions experienced extra humidity this growing season. Explaining how this affected coastal Chilean wines, Casablanca-based winemaker Pablo Morande said: “Maturity has been very slow… We had lots of humidity in the mornings, and some varieties were more susceptible to fungus and attacks of odium. There is less alcohol and a stronger acidity, I think it is a very good year for rosé and whites.”

The rains were a blessing in the usually-dry northern wine producing regions of Limari, Huasco and Elqui. Along with the warm summer that followed, these rains had a beneficial effect for winemakers in the north. Commenting, De Martino-based winemaker Marcelo Retamal said: “Limari had lots of snow so everyone was very happy there was water… it was a great year for Pinot and Chardonnay.”

See what’s in store – Ideal Wine Company

In other words, the onset of a wet growing season has potentially allowed wine making regions across Chile to produce a standout 2016 vintage. With experts saying it will taste more like Bordeaux, the 2016 vintage from the central valleys of Chile should prove particularly spectacular, as Bordeaux wine is celebrated as some of the best in the world. If you want to see what a central valley Chilean 2016 wine may taste like, check out our selection of Bordeaux wines!


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