Over the past twenty years, Chilean wineries and winemakers have been discovering new and interesting terroir and microclimates. Among these areas are the two of the most Southern-reaching areas of Chile, the Malleco and Bío Bío Valleys.
Innovative winemakers are pioneering the discovery of which wine varieties and styles adapt best to the region, In each valley they have been making strides exhibiting just how their individual microclimates can generate wines which uniquely express the terroir.
Today, innovative winemakers are focusing on the exploration of the unique microclimates of each region. Through their research, they have discovered which grapes work best in the region and also how the wines portray stylistic expression.
The larger of the two, and more popular, Bío Bío,(pronounced BEE-o Bee-o), has just 446 hectares under vine . Here Pinot Noir and Chardonnay have recently stolen the spotlight and are the wines to watch from this region.
Their extreme southern position gives them warm days and more daylight than their northern counterparts. Their moderate Mediterranean climate provides them with the ideal combination of with warm days and cold nights Theses southern regions receive more daylight than the northern regions, though once the sun sets the nights are cool. This moderate Mediterranean climate allows for a lengthy ripening season. The Coastal Mountain range blocks Bío Bío from the influence of the ocean, though the region is still known for high rainfall and strong winds. This can make the regions’ growing conditions somewhat challenging for grape growers, but skillful winemakers have embraced this opportunity and shown success.
The climate conditions in Bío Bío are similar to those in northern France. Add to that the soils made up of alluvial matter, clay and sand and it’s a recipe for success. The results are lower-alcohol wines with bright acidity giving way to a more mineral expression in contrast with some of their fruit-forward counterparts from other regions.
To the south of Bío Bío lies the Malleco Valley (pronounced mah-YAY-ko), In fact, Malleco is one of the southernmost wine producing regions in the world nearly bordering Patagonia! It is an area that is still in its adolescence and is still in the process of understanding its potential.. Like Bío Bío, Malleco has a Mediterranean climate and the area has a range of soils including alluvial matter, clay, and sand despite having only 11 hectares under vine. Exceptional wines have been produced from Chardonnay and exploration with Pinot Noir, Gewurztraminer, and Sauvignon Blanc has also exhibited promising results.
Although the Malleco and Bío Bío Valleys are still developing, they have shown great promise. Of all the varieties produced in these valleys, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay have shown the most promise, primarily due to the cool climate conditions in which these grapes thrive. Looking forward, as the area’s gain more interest from wineries around the country we will discover their true potential.