Argentina & Chile

Appellations

The Aconcagua Valley takes its name from the striking Mt. Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Andes. A crucial water supply is found in the meltwater from the mountain's snow caps, providing much needed natural irrigation to one of the driest and hottest inland regions in Chile. The region is more famed for its reds, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon. The best red wines are found in the middle ground where an attractive combination of both inland and coastal influences can be found, however the coastal sub-regions of Aconcagua, such as San Antonio and Casablanca are producing some of the country's most successful cool climate varieties thanks to the Pacific's cooling influence.
Cachapoal makes up one half of Chile's Rapel (itself lying in the Central Valley Region), the other being Colcagua. Wines here are overwhelmingly red and the soils are a combination of loam, clay and sand. The area has seen steady improvements in quality and the best vineyards nowadays are located at higher altitudes or planted further west towards Lake Rapel.
Los Carneros is typically famous for cool climate varietals such as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. It benefits from the cool morning fogs and breezes that help to keep acidities high. These high acidities also favour the production of quality sparkling wine, a category that is consistently improving and where great value can be found.
Casablanca is a small, newly recognised appelation in Chilean winemaking. Although it falls under the overall Aconcagua region, Casablanca's vine varieties, soil and climate is quite different to the bulk of Aconcaguan wine production. Here the climate is distinctly coastal, with vineyards being cooled considerably by both the mists sweeping in off the Pacific and the Humbolt current. Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay are both showing real promise as well as a smattering of Riesling.
The reputation of Chilean wine has improved considerably over the last decade. Indeed, while the majority of production is centred around red, varietally labelled wines that offer great value for everyday drinking, there is an ever-growing number of serious, quality focused winemakers who are making use of exceptional terroirs that have often been described akin to wine-growing paradise.
A subzone of the Curico district, Colchagua is one of finest areas in Chile for the production of red wines.
Curico is a region in Central Chile that is effectively split into two. Vineyards in the eastern zone benefit from the cooling Andean air drifing down from the mountains, while those in the west are warmer and dryer. Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc plantings dominate.
A prime, maritime-influenced region of Chile that is particularly suited to the production of the cool climate style wines. This is a new up and coming region that has already established itself a fi
The Maipo Valley is perhaps Chile's most famous sub-region situated in the Central Valley. It is also the closest region to Santiago, and vineyards are planted far east of the city towards the Andes and also west towards the ocean. With this in mind, reds from the central and eastern 'Alto Maipo' tend to be bold and full bodied, checked by the cool mountain breezes that help to retain freshness and acidity. Vineyards in the west of the Maipo have seen great success with other varietals including Pinot Noir, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc. Perhaps Maipo's biggest strength is the sheer diversity of grapes on offer.
In the far west of Argentina lies the wine growing region of Mendoza. The largest and most important wine growing region in the country, who's skyline is dominated in the west by the imposing peaks of the Andes, and whose vineyards sit, on average, between 600 and 1100m above sea level. Climatically ideally suited to wine growing with clearly defined seasons, healthy levels of rainfall and little threat to the vines. Malbec is perhaps the regions most impressive success, but quality conscious growers are now experimenting with a host of other varietals.
Arguably Americas most important wine growing region, home to the likes of Dominus, Heitz, Cain Cellars and Opus One. Bordeaux varietals are key in this 40 mile long North-South valley that stretches from the San Fransico Bay up towards Calistoga and the sheer variety of different climats and vineyard sites is as bewildering as the sheer variety of styles of wine produced. At their best these can be some of the most opulent examples of Cabernet Sauvignon in the world - truly great wines with dinstinctly long cellaring potentials, but more youthful approachability than their european counterparts.
Piedmont sitting at the foot of the mountains is justly regarded as one of, if not the finest wine growing region in Italy. The noblest grape found in the region in undoubtedly Nebbiolo, with the DOCG's of Barolo and Barbaresco at the forefront of production. Barbera and Dolcetto come in second and third, and being earlier ripening are often found located on those sides of the hills that receive less sunshine. The wines from Piedmont are intrinsically food friendly wines, a fact understandable given the culinary strength of the area.
One of the leading wine regions in spain, Ribera del Duero specialises in the production of powerful red wines from the local variety of Tempranillo, Tinto Fino. A real challenger to Rioja in terms of quality this is an area that at first sight looks like a hostile place to grow vines. The vines are grown at altitudes of between 700 and 850m and searing day time temperatures are followed by extremely cold nights. The wines that emerge are firm, deeply coloured, ageworthy, and some of Spains most exciting and longlived.
The most productive wine region in Australia, with just under 50% of all grapes grown, grown here. It includes the regions of Barossa, Mclaren Vale, Connawarra and the Clare Valley.
Victoria is generally cooler than neighbouring South Australia. With the exception of the more inland Rutherglen, perhaps the Victoria's most famous wine, all the other regions have a distinctly maritime feel. The most significant wine regions within Victoria are Rutherglen, Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula and Geelong. All styles of wine are produced here, from fortfied wines to crisp, zippy whites, and everything in between.