The vineyards of Chile’s Colchagua Valley are the subject of an in-depth, three-year study organised by a consortium of universities and wine producers.

The team, led by Dr Yerko Moreno, director of the Grape and Wine Technical Centre at the University of Talca, is to use the latest scientific techniques to map the geological, viticultural and climatic difference of the valley.

The US$500,000 project, part-funded by the Chilean government, is set to begin in the middle of this year and may last up to three years. Some of the results will be used for educational and promotional purposes, including an online interactive map of the area.

Dr Moreno said a similar study might be attempted in the future in the Maipo Valley. ‘Colchagua has the diversity, it has the wineries that are very competitive and very prone to innovation,’ he said.

The project was announced at the unveiling of the 2001 vintage of Colchagua winery Viña Casa Silva’s icon wine, Altura. The blend of 60% Carmenère, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Petit Verdot, will retail at about £32-33 in the UK, with only 3,000 bottles available globally.

Dr Moreno is one-third of the way through a micro-terroir study of Casa Silva’s vineyards, which is already challenging perceived notions of quality being linked to low yields.

Written by Richard Woodard