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Hot Summer, Cool Climates

Cool Climate Wines

‘Cool-Climate wines’ is a term that gets banded around that essentially means that grapes were grown in conditions that maximise the length of the ripening period – not necessarily from a country with a cooler climate. Whichever way you look at it, in this heatwave, I'm looking at with envy.

This, in turn, can, with the skill of the winemaker lead to more complex, aromatic and well-structured wines being produced. Certainly superior, these finely structured wines with ripe, complex flavours make much better partners for food than wines made from grapes with a shorter ripening period.

One example of a wine producing country with cool-climate growing areas is Chile. It has emerged over the years as a leading light in identifying and developing new regions to attract discerning wine drinkers. Chile being over 2,500miles in length has a wealth of possible vineyard sites close to the cooling influence of the Pacific Ocean and in the Andean foothills: increased height equalling cooler temperatures.

In the last 25 years, many new cool climate vineyards have been planted and these are now maturing to produce high-quality fruit and wines. Two examples include Leyda and Casablanca Valleys with the latter starting what has been referred to as the ‘cold rush’.

Here winemakers hunted out other potential regions where the climate was influenced by the proximity to the Pacific Ocean. They were also looking for those exacting poor and complex soils that help create the ideal growing conditions for each specific grape variety.

In Leyda (lying west of Santiago) just 10km from the sea, the region also benefits from cooling summer breezes that whip across the region most of the day. The early dawn fogs create cool mornings and the granite and clay soil is ideal for producing top quality Sauvignon and Chardonnay.

We've selected some wines to get chilled down to 8˚ and dunked in an ice bucket. These cool climate wines are ideal for summer, especially when served with tuna, turbot, crab, lobster or paella! 

A premium quality Chardonnay from the cool Casablanca Valley. The grapes are barrel-fermented with the natural yeasts present on the grape skins, followed by a nine month period ‘sur lie’ on the yeast sediment. The resulting wine has great complexity and a wonderful rich buttery character. A fine New World Chardonnay with real individuality.

The grapes are picked in several stages to combine both the grassy-gooseberry and the ripe, tropical-fruit flavours. Skin contact and cool fermentation in stainless steel as well as three months lees ageing produces a wine with great depth of flavour and superb aromas.

The grapes from a single estate in San Antonio, Leyda Valley's coolest sub-region, undergo a cold maceration prior to fermentation and are lees-aged for a month in order to extract the maximum aromas, flavour and volume. Unoaked, the wine shows juicy citrus fruit with lemon and lime to the fore.

Complex from the outset with pink grapefruit, lime leaf and ginger lily; on the palate, lime leaf, grapefruit, flint and minerals followed by brioche and lemongrass sitting over a crystalline citrus acidity. 

This Sauvignon Blanc is fresh and full-flavoured with an edgy acidity and some mineral notes. Bright and solid, this wine is rich with lush flavours of lime, grapefruit, greengage, gooseberry, green fig and a hint of green bell pepper with a long and attractive finish.

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