Grapevine Archive for Limarí
The great excitement about Limarí is how different the wines are from many other regions in Chile. Chardonnay from the Quebrada Seca area of Limarí is tense and mineral, quite different from other cool climate regions such as Casablanca which, despite their cool climates, produce more tropical fruit character.
This refreshing mineral character makes Limarí chardonnays easy to enjoy and they stand up well to food. Try our own label Society’s Chilean Chardonnay, Limarí Valley and Maycas Chardonnay Reserva Especial Unoaked 2008, or the very elegant Maycas Quebrada Seca Chardonnay 2008. We have just bottled an Exhibition Limarí Chardonnay 2010 which will be available in July/August. Maycas (owned by Concha y Toro) are planting new vineyards of chardonnay, pinot noir and sauvignon blanc here with the best new rootsocks and clones which promise to be fantastic.
The explanation for the character of the Limarí wines is in the climate and soils. In Chile, from Elqui in the north to Bío-Bío in the south, the main climatic influences are more related to the influence of the sea and mountains not latitude. The coastal strip, say within 30km of the sea, is the coolest, particularly where there is a break in the coastal mountain range. As the land warms up air rises and sucks in cool air from over the 14ºC Pacific Ocean, producing cool afternoon breezes. Away from the coastal strip the maritime influence fades and temperature rises for each kilometre one moves inland.. Then as one moves towards the mountains temperature reduces again.
Northwest of Limarí there is a big break in the coastal range allowing very cool air to flood inland. It reaches Quebrada Seca which is about 25km inland. Here there are substantial amounts of limestone in very interesting alluvial terraces. Rainfall in Limarí is very low, just 100mm a year, compared to the average of about 400mm. This combination is producing superb chardonnays.
There is considerable variation in soil types. The Tamaya Hill is granite, there are areas with substantial proportions of alluvial stones and there is clay too. This variation in soil and climate has the potential to produce a wonderful variety of high quality wines.
Tabalí are making superb sauvignon blanc and syrah. Their sauvignon comes from a new area of Limarí just 12km or so from the sea, near Frei Jorge, which is one of Chile’s coldest sites. The Caliza vineyard has remarkable deep white limestone/clay soils which are friable, enabling even the young vines to root deeply in the soil. The Tabali Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2010 is wonderfully brisk and taut, with lovely nettly aromas and a very fresh but not aggressive palate.
South of the Limarí River, Tabalí are producing the superb Tabalí Syrah Reserva Especial. This has a lovely cool climate nose, like Wright’s Coal Tar Soap, which is very like Northern Rhône but with a slightly richer, yet fresh palate. Here Tabalí have found excellent low fertilty soils and are planting superb new vineyards of pinot noir, syrah and chardonnay with the very best new rootstocks, clones and massale selections. When these and the new Maycas plantations come into bearing quality will leap even further forward.