by Kit Rose
Another welcome New World Import
Something magical is happening in the South American country of Chile. Its' surrounding isolation of mountains, ocean, and sands has put this region smack on the wine lover's map. Its' climate mirrors that of the Mediterranean, with direct sunlight and minimal pollution. In recent decades, many vineyards have been planted, yielding some very palatable and affordable wines. Chilean vintners are currently growing and accepting vines of Cab and Merlot, and more recently, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Viognier, Gewerztraminer, and Reisling.
A somewhat unfamiliar red grape, Carmenère, is also thriving. Having been most notable from the French Bourdeaux (Médoc) region, this grape almost vanished from production due to low yields. Chile has successfully revived this deep colored and very full bodied wine, making for splendid blends.
Because of the dry climate, man-made waterways were dug to collect the melting snow and ice of the Andes, an irrigation process which promoted the flourishing of these young vines and improved the terroir from which they grew. This not only resulted in wine production, but the introduction of Pisco, a grape derived distilled spirit much like the Grappa of Italy and Cognac of France.
Due to Chile's prevalent influence from Spanish, French, and even German culture, their cuisines display wide arrays of flavors. For the wine lover, this means pairings are infinite. Try Chilean wine with almost any dish for palate pleasing combinations, although spicy foods are a must with a red blend.
Many Chilean vineyards are heavily investing in exportation, and their ambitious plans have landed right here in Salem. While it was tricky to find one on a restaurant wine list, Salem Sips did find a few favorites at Busa Wine & Spirits on Trader's Way.
Tell us in the comments if you have a favorite wine from Chile!
Salem Sips Picks, under $20:
**PRIMUS, The Blend, 2011 (Colchagua Valley, $16.99) TOP PICK!**
CHONO, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012 (Maipo Valley, $11.99)
WILD FERMENT, Chardonnay, 2011 (Casablanca Valley, $13.99)