One of three wine regions lying entirely to the south of the capital, Central Valley is itself subdivided into four main valleys, which – with their blotted boundaries – look like wine stains on the map. The northernmost of these four valleys is Maipo, where the verdant vines contrast strikingly with the snow-topped cordillera backdrop. As Chile’s most traditional appellation, Maipo Valley harbours both some of the oldest vines in the country and its most historic wineries. Chief among these is Concha y Toro, located in Pirque just an hour from Santiago. Founded in 1883, the winery offers visitors the chance to look round its French-inspired buildings, cellars and vineyards – as well as providing the obligatory range of tasting opportunities at its wine bar. Although Concha y Toro does also produce Chardonnay, it’s best-known for its fruity reds. The Casillero Del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon is a supermarket staple in the UK, but it’s the ‘ultra-premium’ Don Melchor that scores big with the international wine critics.
Further south of Maipo Valley and spilling west from the foothills of the Andes is Colchagua Valley. This, the southernmost portion of the Rapel Valley wine region, is warmed by a Mediterranean climate and irrigated by the Tinguiririca River. These elements combine to produce Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Syrah and Malbec grapes good enough to get tasters’ heads nodding in appreciation on the world stage. Cono Sur is one of the wineries based in Colchagua Valley, and since 1999 has been nurturing some of the oldest Pinot Noir vineyards in Chile.
This relatively young company actually has a presence in ten of Chile’s wine valleys, including in the Riesling-producing South region some 300 miles from Santiago.