Versatility and finesse is probably the best way to describe these white and red grapes, respectively. Two varieties that prefer cool climates, where they usually grow close to each other. As happens in Limarí Valley, the origin of some of the best Chilean Chardonnay and Pinot noir.
While Chardonnay is the most planted white grape variety in the world, Pinot Noir is the red wine that has more devotees. Among Pinot enthusiasts and drinkers there’s a kind of obsession for discovering great bottles (usually considered rare gems) because its temperamental and difficult to cultivate. The opposite to Chardonnay, a sturdy and neutral variety that adapts easily to the place where it grows.
The funny thing is that where there is Chardonnay, there is usually Pinot Noir. Or vice versa. Because both grapes like similar conditions: cool and intermediate climates.
Pinot Noir grows better in dry climates with cool nights and warmish days. Because their grapes are thin-skinned, under direct sunlight it could shrink. Our under too much water to rot. Also, they grow very fast and have a short growing season what makes them bud early, so they are more vulnerable to morning frost. For these reasons, it’s quite common to find Pinot Noir in protected valleys or near big bodies of water that regulated the temperature…like the ocean. As you see, it’s a vine hard to handle and demands lot of attention.
But Chardonnay isn’t. It’s flexibility is the best attribute and what most excites to winemakers when they work with it. It can take on a variety of profiles depending on where it is grown. In cool climates, for example, will produce light body to medium wines with great acidity and hints of green apple, pear and plum. The only risk with Chardonnay grapes is that they also bud early (about a week after Pinot Noir). That is why we find them close to each other.
Although climate conditions aren’t the only factor affecting the wine. Probably you already hear about the concept of terroir, that blend between weather and soil that makes a place unique. A special one.
Limarí, a valley where clay is the key
About 400 kilometres to the north of Santiago, is the Limarí Valley. The only valley in Chile with clay and limestone-packed soil that can replicate high quality Chardonnays as the ones from Burgundy in France. A region that has cloudy mornings and warm sunsets thanks to the Pacific Ocean influence, featuring ideal conditions to grow Pinot Noir. Because this delicate red grape needs soil with great drainage, and this valley from the IV Region has them.
Precisely the area of Quebrada Seca and Santa Cristina, only 22 kilometres away from the sea, is where the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir of Amelia come from. Two wines that want to show only one origin. A place where clay is they key and which terroir is exquisite for high-end wines production.
There, Amelia vineyards receive the cool sea air current from the Pacific, allowing the grapes to be matured slowly keeping their freshness. The result is a Chardonnay and a Pinot Noir with great structure, delicious minerality and a hint of saltiness typical of the area.
Those two wines have great character and work even better when you pair them with local products. Famous are the creamy homemade cheese’s produced with goat’s milk of the mountains of Limarí Valley, and they work amazingly with the red fruits, complexity and volume of Amelia Pinot Noir.
While the prawns of Limarí River -whose meat is tender with an earthy flavour- are a truly experience when you complemented them with the minerality of Amelia Chardonnay.
Without a doubt, the taste of a region that has a lot to offer (in case you are already wondering how a trip to Limarí Valley would be).