Maipo Valley

The Maipo Valley surrounds the country's capital, Santiago, forming the centre-piece of this wine-growing nation. The best areas are considered outstanding, especially when it comes to red wines. The valley is probably also Chile's oldest wine-growing region, the Spanish conquistadors were cultivating vines here in the mid 16th century. Approximately 10,000 hectares of vineyards line the valley, which extends from the Andes to the coastal mountain range. Protected from the Pacific Ocean breezes, Maipo valley is warm, which explains the predominance of red wine varieties in the vineyard; Cabernet Sauvignon alone occupies over half of the valley's vineyard area. The valley takes its name from the Maipo River, which rises at the foot of the volcano of the same name and flows from east to west through the valley. Vineyards are planted at all altitudes so there are many small, distinct climatic zones that allow for the cultivation of white vines on select sites. Diurnal temperature fluctuations are significant, so wines are not inevitably rich and powerful, but can also show elegance and finesse. The best wines are generally from the higher areas in the Andes or close to the coastal Cordilleras. Blending of wines from different sites across the region is also common for the same reason. At lower altitudes the soils consist mainly of sand, while on the steeper foothills of the Andes they are rocky, even barren rock. The potential of this region has already been recognised by many European producers, who have passed on their know-how to Chilean winemakers. In a joint venture between Baron Philipp de Rothschild of Bordeaux and Concha y Toro, one of the first super-premium wines with cult status was created: 'Almaviva'.
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