While the Aconcagua wine region may be relatively small, it takes its name from the tallest mountain peak in South America – with a reputation for producing some of Chile’s finest wines that is scaling similar heights.
To the north of the capital city of Santiago, the Aconcagua Valley is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful wine growing regions in the country – with the eponymous snow-capped mountain, which translates as ‘stone sentinel’. towering over the narrow, steep sloped valley where vineyards are planted.
Since the first vineyards here were only planted in the 1980s, the Aconcagua Valley is a relatively new wine region – covering only 1,098 hectares – that has quickly amassed an international reputation for both its red and white wines.
Wine critics heads were officially turned by Vina Errazuriz’s renowned ‘Sena’, a Bordeaux style blend that placed above more illustrious company at the Berlin Tasting in 2004. The Aconcagua wine region remains respected for its ripe, fruit laden red wines, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petit Verdot and Carmenere – although some wine makers have been exploring the potential of cool climate white varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc.
The climate plays an important role in the region; defined by typically hot summers and mild winters with a great difference in diurnal temperatures during the day. The foothills of the Aconcagua Valley receive little rain but are irrigated by meltwater descending from the imposing mountains, which encourages the growth of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.
Temperatures get warmer the further inland you move, although they are tempered by higher altitudes in the east while ocean breezes generated by the Humboldt current cool developing coastal plantations in the west.
Aconcagua wine districts
The Aconcagua wine region can be divided into three smaller wine districts:
The Aconcagua Valley itself was originally considered too hostile for grapes to survive. That was until Chilean wine pioneer Don Maximiano Errazuriz reversed the region’s fortunes with the quality of ihis Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot. The Errazuriz estate still dominates the region, but has since been accompanied by other notable producers.
Slightly further south, the Casablanca Valley is the first of the newer districts to be established in Chile. The district is at the forefront of Chile’s efforts to add white wine styles to its portfolio of reds and is best known for its crisp whites, most notably from Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, as well as some highly acclaimed Pinot Noir from vineyards closer to the cooler climate on the coast.
The Leyda Valley district was traditionally associated with wheat and barley production, but its cool climate characteristics have found success in producing bright, vibrant styles from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The valley is undoubtedly one of the most promising districts in the Aconcagua wine region with international commentators heaping high praise on its wines, which also include impressive Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah.
Wine tasting from Santiago is becoming increasingly popular in the Aconcagua Valley where visitors can explore stately vineyards and discover underground cellars before the opportunity to sample some of the region’s finest wines – often accompanied with gourmet food pairings using local produce.
The best time for wine enthusiasts to experience Chile is between March and April when grape harvest festivals take place throughout the country.
Another popular pastime for tourists once the sun fades behind the mountains is star gazing. Since Chile enjoys more than 300 clear days in a year with very little light pollution, especially in the north, all manner of constellations, planets and shooting stars can be seen in the skies at night.
If you are considering a visit to Chile, contact our local expert Manon to organise an exclusive tour with a bespoke itinerary that can include elaborate tastings, luxury stays, fine dining experiences and some unique activities.
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