Coastal Valley vineyards of Chile 16th March
Casablanca and the coastal Aconcagua are cooler areas than the inland regions due to the maritime influences from the cold ocean currents traveling up the western seaboard. With sauvignon blanc, chardonnay and pinot noir being the major varieties.The days don't get as warm there is more humidity and the nights are milder.
Casablanca lies around twenty to thirty km from the coast and 40 to 50km wnw of Santiago with some variation in the soil profiles, ridges and steep hills either granitic cream grey sandy loam over sand going into stony pebbles or a higher iron content redder loamy soils. On the lower parts of the valley a heavier dark grey clay soil is predominant, it tends to delay the ripening of chardonnay and sauvignon blanc due to both usually a higher crop but also a cooler soil, compared to the others. Chardonnay and sauvignon blanc are harvested in mid to late march the more clay soils into april. Frost can be a problem earlier in the season and the easterly facing slopes are the coolest in the area.I found the chardonnay here particularly good, but it is very dependent upon the clone,site, management and crop load. the clones 96 and 548 being particularly impressive in regards to the fruit and acid balance. One vineyard of sauvignon blanc on the red soil was very impressive with a combination of herbaceous, mineral fruit and acid freshness.
Is about 10 to 20 km from the coast and some 80 to 100km nw of Santiago the vineyard i visited was off the valley floor and quite simply a breathtaking vineyard. Every aspect and microclimate was covered and in an extraordinary fashion with steep rows that climb the heights and reach the depths of the property. Here the sauvignon blanc in certain sites (mainly the cooler spots either protected from the afternoon sun or exposed to the coastal winds) were particularly varietal, the more protected and warmer spots less so. Chardonnay here was more round and full not as much acid as Casablanca. They also have a pinot and syrah on the top of the hills on sites exposed to the coastal winds. The pinot having red fruits and the syrah some pepper and berry but it was a bit early to tell for the syrah. They were picking sauvignon blanc and chardonnay at the time of visiting and this was in mid- march.