Mind your Latitude: 36° South

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We’ve looked at wine through the lens of grapes, places, soils, barrels, bottles, and stems…and for the next few weeks we’re taking a look at latitude. Today, we present:  36 degrees South!

Itata Valley: The Itata Valley is located within Chile’s Southern Regions Viticultural Area, just to the south of the Maule Valley. With viticulture dating back to the 1500s, it is believed that the Itata Valley—particularly the area around the towns of Chillán, Quillón and Coelemu—was one of the first areas of Chile to be planted with vines. Chile’s Coastal Range is not as tall nor as wide in this area as it is to the north, so a large part of the area enjoys a cool Mediterranean climate with maritime influences. Heritage grapes—including Moscatel de Alejandría, País, and Cinsault—are planted here, along with recent plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Carmenère, Merlot, and Chardonnay. Total plantings in the Itata Valley are estimated to be close to 16,900 acres (6,800 ha).

La Pampa: La Pampa, part of Argentina Patagonia, is in the center of the country—southeast of Mendoza and situated between the high Andes Mountains (to the west) and the Atlantic Coast (to the east).  The terrain of La Pampa is, for the most part, gently undulating grasslands—at an average elevation of 1,000 feet (305 m) in the west, leveling out a bit as one travels eastward towards the coast. La Pampa experiences a moderate continental climate with mild autumns and springs, warm summers, and cold winters. The area is currently planted to just over 680 acres (275 ha) of vines, with nearly 85% of the vineyards are dedicated to red grapes. Over 50% of the vines are planted to Malbec; other leading grapes varieties include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay.

Padthaway: Padthaway is the northernmost wine region in South Australia’s Limestone Coast Zone, an area known for its limestone bedrock and terra rosa soil. The Padthaway GI extends northward from Wrattonbully and Coonawarra in a unique, long, and narrow shape. Stretching for over 38 miles (62 km), it follows a vein of sandy terra rosa soils—as well as the Riddoch Highway—from the town of Naraccorte to just north of the town of Padthaway. By contrast, the region is a mere 5 miles (8 km) wide at its widest point. Shiraz is the most widely planted grape, followed closely by Cabernet Sauvignon (known to have an  affinity for terra rosa). Chardonnay is also widely planted. These top three grapes—Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon-Chardonnay—account for nearly 80% of the region’s vines. Other varieties grown in Padthaway include Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Malbec, Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Noir.

Rutherglen: Rutherglen, located within the Australian state of Victoria, has been producing wine since the 1850s. Vines were first brought to the area along with an influx of settlers during Victoria’s gold rush. These days, the area is famous for its old vines (some of the oldest in Australia) as well as its unique, ultra-aged fortified wines. This area is markedly inland, and the terrain is mostly flat. This makes for a dry continental climate that can produce some very hot summertime temperatures. Thus, Rutherglen is an ideal spot to grow Muscat grapes (a very heat-tolerant variety) for use in the area’s famous stickies. Rutherglen fortified wines are also produced from the Muscadelle grape—these wines used to be referred to as Tokay but are now known as Topaque (to avoid regional and regulatory confusion). Rutherglen also produces unfortified table wines from Shiraz, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon—but its fame rests with the “liquid gold” of Rutherglen fortified wines.

Auckland: Located on New Zealand’s North Island, the Auckland region has a plethora of (mostly boutique) wineries tucked into the areas to the north and south of the metropolitan area surrounding the country’s capital city. The wine industry of Auckland benefitted greatly from a wave of Croatian immigrants that began to settle in the area around Kumeu in the 1880s. Several of New Zealand’s leading estates—including Babich, Villa Maria, Kumeu River, and Nobilio—were founded by Croatians. These days, this relatively warm, humid area is mainly planted to Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, and Syrah—as well as small amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. Auckland is considered a hub for the New Zealand wine industry, with many of the country’s largest wineries—including those with vineyard holdings in other part of the country—headquartered in Auckland.

References/for more information:

Click here if you’d like to check out the rest of our “Mind Your Latitude” series. 

The Bubbly Professor is “Miss Jane” Nickles of Austin, Texas… missjane@prodigy.net

About bubblyprof
Wine Writer and Educator...a 20-year journey from Bristol Hotels to Le Cordon Bleu Schools and the Society of Wine Educators

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