Concha y Toro

Sarah Gordon 04/03/2020

All about wine

How the Pacific Ocean creates Amelia wine

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Chile is a country that has been carved by the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean, a nation defined by its 4,000 kilometres of Pacific coastline. 

Not only has the sheer power of the Pacific’s crashing waves shaped Chile, it has also helped to create surprising and award-winning wines that have taken the world by storm with their freshness and fruity notes. 

Some wine lovers may associate Chilean wine with its rich Cabernet Sauvignons and Merlots, grown in the sun-baked Central Valley, but wine experts have long been celebrating wine growing regions on the coast that are producing some of the highest-scoring Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vintages, and are now even setting the stage for award-wining Syrah.

Amelia wine is grown entirely in Chile’s most prestigious coastal wine regions, creating vintages that wine the highest awards time and again, thanks to their bright and vibrant flavour profiles. 

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Quebrada Seca Vineyard (Limari Valley). Ph: Marcelo Papa

Hot or cold?

We think of wine growing regions bathed in endless sunshine, of hot days and vines heavy with grapes. That is true, especially in Chile’s famous Central Valley where average daytime temperatures are some of the highest of the wine-growing regions in the country, which makes the area ideal for sun-loving red wine grapes. You’ll find high-quality Carmenere, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot coming from these regions.

But Chile’s Pacific coast offers a whole different wine growing region, one of cold mornings and mist, of vineyards that promise a bright and fresh appeal. Coastal wine growing regions bring a moderating effect on temperature, with the cooling influence of the Pacific Ocean leading to lower temperatures and therefore lower sugar content. These conditions suit white wines particularly valued for their more acidic properties, but can also provide a great home for red wines that are not as heavy as their inland cousins. There are some brilliant Pinot Noir varieties grown in the Limari Valley in Chile, and Chardonnay can flourish in both hot and cool climate, taking on a completely different flavour profile when grown on the coast. 

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Chardonnay in Quebrada Seca, Limarí Valley. Ph: Marcelo Papa

Fresh coastal wines in Chile

If you like your wine crisp, light and dry, then wines grown in lower temperatures are likely to hit just the right notes for your taste buds. The coastline in Chile benefits from the Humbolt Current, circulating cool air in a northerly direction. As these currents wash over the coast, banks of fog sit over the vines, slowly burning off during the sunny day, perhaps lifting by mid-morning, just enough time to have kept the grapes that little cooler, so they ripen slowly. This current extends all the way from southern Chile to northern Peru and brings significantly lower temperatures to an otherwise hot region.

In Chile, people reference the famous Andes Mountains which form the backbone of the country. But Chile is also home to the coastal mountain range, which acts a barrier, preventing the cooler mist and clouds from blowing across into the Central Valley. It is not just a benefit for those red grapes thriving in the heat, it is also idea for coastal white wine grapes and Pinot Noir, help that cool weather to stay in place over the vineyards. These long cool seasons are perfect or the grapes to retain that hint of acidity, giving the wine a special vibrancy.

With the Pacific Ocean close by, the Limari Valley is renowned for wines like the Amelia Chardonnay 2018, voted the best white wine and the best chardonnay in Chile. Protected from the morning sun by cloudy conditions over the Quebrada Seca vineyard (just 22 kilometres from the ocean), these grapes ripen more slowly. This allows for a fresh and crisp finish and highly controllable and stable wine production. The Limari Valley wines are noted for being dominated by citrus and pear notes, with other wine regions in Chile like the Casablanca Valley being known for apricot, apple and mango notes.

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This region also produces the Amelia Pinot Noir, a 96 point-scoring red with cherry notes that combine with a great structure and a long, fresh finish. The combination of the red clay and calcium carbonate soil with the cloudy and cool conditions brings a pinot noir packed with fruity flavour. Unlike the red varieties grown in the warmer Central Valley, this red maintains a firm freshness that is refreshing and smooth. 

The clean and distinctive wines grown here also offer an extra benefit. Tasting sessions in the hot sun can be tiring, but tasting an Amelia Chardonnay or Pinot Noir with a wonderfully refreshing breeze; it just adds to the experience of drinking the best wines in Chile, right from their source.