Casablanca Valley: the Sauvignon Blanc stronghold
Situated north of the capital city of Santiago, the Casablanca Valley has experienced an almost meteoric rise in the last two decades. The region was long considered too cold for viticulture. But Sauvignon Blanc in particular demonstrates its qualities optimally here, becoming a hit Chilean export thanks to expressive aromas of gooseberry and blackcurrant, with plenty of freshness on the palate. Meanwhile, other “cool climate” varieties also show their class.
Situated between the metropolises of Santiago and Valparaiso, the Casablanca Valley has developed into a tourist attraction for wine enthusiasts. Newly conceived wineries with wine houses and restaurants celebrate a wine lifestyle scarcely found anywhere else in Chile. White varieties still very clearly dominate here, especially Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. But in recent years, increasingly interesting red wines have been vinified here from Pinot Noir and even Syrah.
Constant breeze from the sea
The Casablanca Valley lies a certain distance from the Andes, such that the cool autumn winds do not play a role. But proximity to the Pacific shapes the microclimate all the more strongly. In the mornings, there is often a fog over the vineyards, which provides for cool temperatures and acceptable humidity. A breeze rolls in from the ocean with astonishing regularity around noon, breaking the fog. In the subsequent sunlight hours, the temperature steadily increases. The vineyards are located mainly on the valley floor, or on slight slopes along the valley flanks, such that comparatively heavy, loamy soils predominate.
Pinot and Syrah are on the upturn
With its highly aromatic primary fruit, Sauvignon Blanc has shaped the region’s image almost as strongly as the Marlborough region of New Zealand. Like there, Casablanca wineries have now proven that other varieties can yield interesting wines in this cultivation area. This is especially true of Chardonnay, but noticeably peppery, crisp Syrahs and astonishingly elegant Pinot Noirs have resulted in recent years. Many of these wines, with their great, robust structure, are reminiscent of their forebears in France. As Casablanca has become a hallmark for elegant wines, almost all of the large wineries in Chile have secured acreage here in recent years.