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Doubt about value of new Chilean denominations

Chile has approved three new regional denominations – Costa, Andes and Entre Cordilleras – which it hopes will show the country’s 'fantastic diversity as a producer of high quality wines and [their] sense of origin.'

Aconcagua Valley

The new denominations cover the entire range of Chile’s viticultural regions, from Malleco Valley in the south to Elqui Valley in the north. They are not compulsory but ‘complementary’.

While the move has been broadly welcomed, some observers are doubtful as to to their practical use.

Costa encompasses westerly appellations within Limari, Casablanca, San Antonio, Colchagua and Itata; Andes covers the high eastern appellations within Elqui, Choapa, Maipo, Cachapoal, Curico, Maule; and Entre Cordilleras (‘between the ranges’) covers the central appellations where 60% of Chile’s wine is produced.

‘It is important to explain that these indications are not an integral part of Chile’s Denomination of Origin system, but rather provide additional information,’ a brochure released by Wines of Chile says.

The new areas were passed into law in a decree by Chile’s Ministry of Agriculture and added to its 1994 wine law on 29 September this year.

Aurelio Montes of Montes Wines told Decanter.com there are already too many appellations. ‘Consumers can’t hold in their minds the appellations all over the world. In Chile they can remember Colchagua, Apalta, Casablanca – but no more than that.’

He said that while Costa and Andes were worthwhile as descriptors, but they account for less than 50% of production.

‘The rest is Entre Cordilleras and that is a long and difficult name. Apalta for example is one of the most prestigious appellations within Entre Cordilleras, but I’ll never use that descriptor on my labels. No one will.’

Michael Cox, UK director of Wines of Chile, agreed. ‘Entre Cordilleras is not distinctive enough. For example Peumo in Cachapoal is fast becoming the top region for Carmenere. People will use Peumo and not bother with Entre Cordilleras.’

Rupert Lovie at Errazuriz distributors Hatch Mansfield said the four-wine Manzanar vineyard range – which is on sale in the UK – carries the Aconcagua Costa denomination.

They would not be using Entre Cordilleras, from which the majority of Errazuriz wines comes. ‘We don’t see a reason to, as the wines are well-established.’

Written by Adam Lechmere, and David Furer

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