Chilean winemakers are always searching for new vineyards areas in the vast vertical country that runs down the western side of South America, from the border with Peru to the southern tip of the continent at Tierra del Fuego.
Climate change has lent a new urgency and focus to the process, as it is now necessary, more than ever, to predict how warmer temperatures will effect viticulture and winemaking.
The last past 15 years have probably been the most important ones for the Chilean wine industry, driven by important research programmes dedicated to the search for new areas with unique conditions for the most successful grape growing and a strategic plan to confirm Chile’s place as a world class producer of wines, as detailed in the Wines of Chile 2025 project.
Research and experimentation leads to official recognition. Inspired by the Wines of Chile 2025 plan, La Ronciere has invested in an extraordinary new terroir, where no-one else was located, just 25km from the Pacific Ocean, by the Mataquito river. The terroir region is D.O. Licanten, officially recognised by the Chilean government in March 2018, and the La Ronciere vineyards here make up their Idahue Estate.
Proximity to the Pacific Ocean means that the grapes will ripen slowly and temperatures will never be excessive. Climate change, which is already a very real fact of life for Chilean winemakers, means that La Ronciere decided first of all, to look for vineyards near the coast, and then to use their new 200 hectare vineyard to plant red grapes only in 2012, in the certain knowledge that red grapes would bear higher temperatures better than white.
Another factor was the soil. The Idahue vineyard makes the red grape decision not only possible, but the right thing to do. The different soil components, made up of lutitas (shale), licorellas (schist), clay and gravel are not only the product of an amazing 300 million years of age, but also absolutely right for fine red wines. Which cannot be said for other coastal area vineyard locations.
The unique La Ronciere concept is to make: “FRESH RED WINES, OF SLOW MATURATION, BY THE SEA”.
The new location takes advantage of the abundant sunshine present in the area, together with the mild breezes coming from the ocean in the middle of the day, a combination which greatly contributes to the making of elegant and concentrated wines with vibrant colours and tannins, natural acidities and good flavours and aromas of fresh fruit. Varieties planted in their separately identified parcels are: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Carmenere, Syrah, Cabernt Franc, Pinot Noir, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Carignan.
La Ronciere’s owners are three brothers: José Antonio, Andres and Alejandro Orueta (above). When the company started, wines came just from the Cachapoal and Colchagua valleys.
Now the new Idahue vineyard is being treated as a microclimate with its five internally differentiated soil conditions. As CEO Alejandro says, “It is a huge responsibility to have a DO when you are the only ones there. We are going step-by-step and there’s no rush. Licanten is not about big volumes. It’s about small quantities and high quality.”
For more information, visit www.laronciere.com and follow @laroncierewines on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram.
Translated by ICY
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