Mind your Latitude: 40° South

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:  40 degrees South!

Valle de Osorno DO: Chile’s Osorno Valley—part of Chile’s Austral Viticultural Region—stretches from the coast, over the mountains of the Coast Range, through the high-plateau “Los Lagos” (lakes) region and up into the foothills of the Andes. The area’s rich volcanic soils and cool climate (moderated by the presence of the some of the largest lakes in the country) provides the backdrop to a massive cattle and dairy industry, fueled by Basque, Spanish, and German immigrants along with the native Huilliche-Mapuche population.  The area is also a traditional center for horsemanship and the national breed of Chilean Horses—los Caballoes de Pura Raza Chilena.  The Osorno Valley’s thriving economy is based, in part, on its location close to the Paso Cardenal Antonio Samor—one of the few asphalt highways between Chile and Argentina found in the Southern Andes. Vines—mainly Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Riesling—are a recent but welcome addition to the area. The wines of the Valle de Osorno DO have been praised for their mineral character, elegance, and pleasing acidity—and plantings are on the rise.

San Patricio del Chañar: Viticulture in the Argentine province of Neuquén is centered in the southern and eastern quadrants of the area. Many of the vineyards are planted in or near the basins of the Limay and Neuquén Rivers, at a moderate elevation (between 886 and 1,362 feet/270 to 415 meters above sea level). In recent years, the town of San Patricio del Chañar—located on the banks of the Neuquén River and just a few miles north of the province of Río Negro—has emerged as a leading center for viticulture in the region. San Patricio del Chañar is largely planted to red grapes (mainly Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec) aong with small amounts of white grapes. The next time you are passing through, be sure and stop at the aptly named Bodega del Fin del Mundo and try some of their Reserva del Fin del Mundo (a blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Viognier).

Río Negro Lower Valley: Argentina’s Río Negro (the river) begins at the confluences of the Limay and Neuquén Rivers, and flows southeast across the continent towards the Atlantic Ocean. Along its 653- kilometer (405-mile) path, it forms a series of valleys that have become important centers for viticulture and wine production in Patagonia.  The Río Negro Lower Valley—located in the east of the Río Negro Province—is among the lowest-elevation viticultural areas in Argentina, and close enough to the sea to receive the cooling influence of the Atlantic Ocean. There are currently about 100 hectares (240 acres) of vines in the area, planted to a range of grape varieties including Malbec, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Sauvignon Blanc.

Wairarapa: The Wairarapa wine region is located in the southernmost portion of New Zealand’s North Island—within the administrative region of Wellington (and about 35 miles/58 km east of the city of the same name). The area is best-known for savory Pinot Noir, which accounts for nearly 50% of all vines. Other leading grapes include Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay. The vineyards of Wairarapa typically enjoy sunny days due to the rain shadow of the nearby Rimutaka and Tararua Mountain Ranges and a cooling influence from the coastline that curves around the east and south of the area. Despite its small production—the region produces just under 1% of New Zealand’s total output—Wairarapa contains two official sub-regions: Martinborough and Gladstone.

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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