Premium Chilean producer Veramonte is on the point of buying 200ha in the up-and-coming coastal region of Marchihue.
East of the Colchagua Valley and around 15km from the Pacific Ocean, Marchihue is rapidly being colonised by serious winemakers. Its mineral, clay-based soils and sea-cooled climate have proved excellent for the cultivation of Cabernet Sauvignon.
The highly-respected Montes is already producing Cabernet from vineyards planted last year, and now Veramonte (pictured) is on the brink of buying upwards of 200ha. ‘People are now starting to sniff it out,’ Montes owner Aurelio Montes said. ‘It’s getting quite a reputation.’
Veramonte owner Agustin Huneeus told decanter.com he was keen to buy land in Marchihue after using Cabernet from the area for several years. He was also influenced by his friend and consultant Aurelio Montes, whom he said he would ‘follow anywhere’.
One of the great attractions of the area is the fact it has never been cultivated and is used at present for cattle and sheep grazing. ‘You can take your pick of terroir there. There is limited water, the temperature is very controlled by the nearness of the ocean, and the soil is interesting – it is heavy, with a high clay content.’
Huneeus favours clay for cabernet because he says it is rich soil, but it limits the vigour of the vines. He wants to plant as soon as the deal is done – which probably won’t be until the spring, next September or October.
There are other advantages to Marchihue – namely its cheapness. Montes said he paid around US$1,000 per hectare. Huneeus paid twice that, which he says is ‘amazingly cheap compared to anywhere else in the world.’
A winery will be built if everything goes according to plan, Huneeus said. ‘I always put in a winery when things go well.’
Written by Adam Lechmere6 December 2002