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Southern Hemisphere
Wine Regions
SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE
CHILE

Chile is the third largest exporter of wines to the United States behind only France and Italy. Dry summers mean that Chile's vines scarcely encounter disease or mildew. Chilean fruit is fresher and more pungent than nearly anywhere else in the world. Few other countries offer such an inviting combination of fruit and acidity, so unaffected by aging in oak. Chilean viticulture dodged the scourge of phylloxera that laid waste to European vineyards toward the end of the 19th century, and continues to plague California vineyards. Even today, because of Chile's isolation and unique natural conditions, the vine pest has never ravaged its vineyards.

Stretching from burning desert to glacial peaks, the features of the 2,500 mile length of Chile are best characterized by enormous variety. The Andes mountains tower in the east, the smaller Coastal Range blocks the cold air sweeping in from the Pacific. With nearly continuous coastal hills, a wide central Chile provides a Pacific version of the Mediterranean climate that breeds fine wines. Santiago lies right in the comfort zone, with warm summers and mild winters, cooler than the Napa Valley, but drier than Bordeaux. World class vineyards begin just north of Santiago, and stretch 150 miles south down the Central Valley.

There are three wine-growing regions: the Aconcaqua, Central Valley and Southern, and within these, several important sub-regions including: the Casablanca, Maule and Maipo. In the past 10 years, Chile has invested massively in increasing plantings of noble grape varieties, including Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Merlot. Robert Mondavi, Pernod Ricard, Kendall Jackson, Franciscan Winery and Grand Marnier have all invested in Chile's future.

For further information contact ProChile.

Excerpted from Discover the Wines of Chile.

ARGENTINA

Is the largest wine producer in South America, fifth in the world. Most of her wines are consumed locally. The major red grape variety is Malbec, followed by Tempranillo, Barbera and Cabernet Sauvignon. White grapes include Chenin Blanc, Riesling and Chardonnay. The wine industry is centered in the state of Mendoza. 75% of the countries vineyards lie near the Chilean border, 650 miles west of Buenos Aires.

SOUTH AFRICA

Wines were first made in the Cape of Good Hope in 1659, from vines planted by the earliest Dutch settlers. With the abolition of apartheid and the election of Nelson Mandela as President in 1994, the dormant wine industry has exploded on the export market. South Africa ranks eighth in the world in wine production. Until recently, the giant KWV, a national wine cooperative controlled the South African wine industry. It now has allowed independent wine estates to make wine. Most of the vineyard land is near the South-West coast surrounding Cape Town. Here the climate is Mediterranean; the Atlantic meets the Indian Ocean. Stellenbosch, East of Cape Town, is South Africa's most important wine district. Paarl, North of Stellenbosch, is also important. The dominant white grape variety(1/3) is Steen(Chenin Blanc); for reds it is Cinsaut(Cinsault in the Rhone area of France). Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc do well in South Africa's climate. Pinotage is uniquely South African; a cross of Pinot Noir and Cinsaut.

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