Miguel Torres invests in Chile’s south19th June, 2014 by Gabriel Savage
Chilean producer Miguel Torres has bought 230 hectares in the southern region of Itata, one of the country’s oldest viticultural areas that is currently undergoing a high quality renaissance.
Announcing this purchase near the town of Chillán as “part of an investment to revive one of the oldest viticultural valleys in Chile”, the company, a subsidiary of the Spanish family owned producer Torres, also highlighted the move as fulfilling “a need to find land that in time will help combat the challenges of climate change.”
Miguel Torres now plans to focus on planting red varieties on this site, which is located between the Ñuble and Itata rivers, with additional influence from the Andes mountains to the east.
Although the company has built a reputation for its efforts to revitalise traditional Chilean varieties such as Muscatel and País, Miguel Torres indicated that Itata could provide an important future home for higher profile grapes.
“Forty years ago the climate in Chillán was not conducive to the cultivation of varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere for high quality wines, as the grapes did not achieve the required level of maturity,” commented the producer. “However, this looks set to change as rising temperatures and climate change could mean grapes of perfect maturity will be viable here in the future.”
Located close to the port city of Concepción, Itata was an early focus for viticulture when the Spanish settlers arrived during the 16th century, although its recent history has been more closely linked to the bulk production of high yielding grape varieties.
However, recent years have seen a number of producers pick out this region for more ambitious projects as part of a wider exploration of the winemaking potential offered by Chile’s cooler, wetter southern areas.
Among these other Itata ventures is Clos des Fous, which features Chilean terroir consultant Pedro Parra as a partner, as well as De Martino’s Viejas Tinajas range. Both producers are tapping into the opportunities offered by the region’s old vine plantings of grapes such as Muscat and Cinsault.
Miguel Torres also plans to use its new location, which offers views of the Ñuble river, coastal mountain range and the Chillàn volcano to create a wine tourism project, incorporating wine tastings on nearby ski slopes during the winter season.
An in-depth look at developments in Chile’s emerging wine regions appeared in April’s issue of the drinks business.