Maipo Valley, Chile
One of Chile’s oldest wine regions, Maipo Valley is amongst the most traditional. French-inspired vineyards initiated Chile’s second wine boom some 150 years ago and are partially responsible for the valley’s famed Cabernet Sauvignon – still by far the region’s most prized grape – as well as home to some of the finest Carmenere.
Southwest of Santiago lies the Maipo Valley, arguably the most famous wine producing region in Chile and it is also one of the largest totaling over 10,000 hectares of area under vine. Though the Maipo Valley is not Chile’s oldest wine region, it is often referred to as the most traditional. Due to the areas proximity to Santiago, many of Chile’s oldest, largest, and most established wineries have found a home in the Maipo Valley including Concho y Toro, Cousino Macul, and Santa Rita.
In the Maipo Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon dominates vine plantings – accounting for more than 50% of the wines produced, Merlot accounts for 10%. Overall, the Maipo Valley is a predominately red wine region and has an 85/15 split of red to white wines.
The Maipo Valley covers a large area of Chile spanning from the east of Santiago to the west of the Pacific Ocean. Within this area there are three sections, Alto Maipo, Central Maipo, and Coastal Maipo. Each offers its own, unique style of wine, highlighting the diversity that can be found within one area.
Cabernet Sauvignon in Maipo Valley
Certain wine regions are defined by the notoriety of a single grape, which sometimes carries the vinous fortunes and reputation of an entire country. Prime examples are Tempranillo from Rioja, Sangiovese from Tuscany and Malbec from Mendoza. In Chile, the signature grape is Cabernet Sauvignon from the Maipo Valley.
One of Chile’s largest and most historically significant wine regions, the Maipo Valley has Santiago, the nation’s capital at its heart. The valley includes roughly 30,000 acres of vineyards, more than half of which are dedicated to Cabernet Sauvignon. For the past 150 years, vines have grown to the north of the city. In addition, thousands of acres also thrive in the fertile passageway that extends southwest of Santiago toward the subzones of Padre Hurtado, Penaflor, Talagante, Isla de Maipo and Melipilla. For definitive Chilean Cabernet, however, the area within Maipo that one should know is Alto Maipo – a stretch of Andean foothills located roughly 25 miles southwest of Santiago.