Chile’s winemakers ‘erasing’ terroir

18th August, 2014 by Patrick Schmitt

Chilean producers’ historic emphasis on trying to emulate Bordeaux, coupled with too much interference from the country’s winemakers, is “erasing terroir”, believes Pedro Parra.

Pedro Parra

Pedro Parra describes himself as “a wine terroir consultant” and is based in Concepcion in southern Chile

During a discussion with the drinks business last month in Chile, the country’s revered soil and viticultural consultant Pedro Parra expressed his frustration at the lack of site expression in Chilean wines, which he initially said was due to producers’ cellar practices.

“I can do blind tastings to show that Chile has wines from fantastic terroirs based on great geology, but, despite having so many different terroirs, the wines taste the same because the human factor is so important in Chile: the winemakers want to be the first actor, they want to be present, and they are erasing the terroir.”

Parra also told db that a strong French influence in the country has encouraged too great a focus on Cabernet Sauvignon blends, which has come at the expense of developing the possibilities for Mediterranean grapes, which, he stated, may be better suited to Chile’s climate and soils.

The historical presence of the “French bourgeoisie” around Santiago as well as the high number of Chilean winemakers who have studied in Bordeaux have ensured that “Chile has been very Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot country”, according to Parra.

“That has made it very boring in my view and not orientated for terroir,” he commented.

Continuing, he said, “We don’t have a lot of terroirs for Cabernet Sauvignon, and I’d love to see more Spanish and Italian grapes here.”

3 Responses to “Chile’s winemakers ‘erasing’ terroir”

  1. Bertus Fourie says:

    Pity very few terroir aficionados understand business principles. Although there is an element of truth in what he says/believes, and despite the fact that I also believe in, love, respect and adore wines which reflects all the researched and even “mystical” aspects of site specific wines, unfortunately (or fortunately) I have to produce wine in such a way that it appeals to a wide range of consumers…in order to truly enjoy terroir driven wines, I have to produce wine that also sells.

  2. Alex says:

    Terroir is what makes wine what it is. Without terroir, where’s the experience of tasting a wine with unique features indicating the North Rhône, or Napa Valley? While I can appreciate the business side of it (after all, you do have to cater to what will sell the best), I think that distinctly Chilean Cabernet could sell impressively. Even so, focusing on bringing back Carmenere would be great as well. Argentina found Malbec to be well-suited to their climate, and as such, it’s by far the largest producer of an immensely popular wine. Could not Chile do the same with Carmenere?

    • Ximena says:

      Chile could, the main problem is focused on how conservative Chilean winemakers are and how much flexible they are to innovate to become more popular.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to our newsletters

Job vacancies

Administrative Assistant

Swig Wines Ltd
Chiswick, London, UK

HR Manager

Amathus Drinks PLC
London, UK

Senior Sales Manager

Haynes Hanson & Clark
Gloucestershire, GB

Customer Services Administrator

Speciality Drinks Ltd
London, UK

National Business Development Manager

Speciality Drinks Group
London, UK

Inventory Analyst

Bibendum PLB
London, UK

Events Executive - Atom Supplies

ATOM Supplies Limited
London, UK

Off-Trade Sales Account Executive

Domaine Direct
Nationwide, working from a combination of home & London office.

Sales Executive/Brand Ambassador

Glenfarclas
Ballindalloch, Speyside, UK

Client Manager

Noble Rot
Wandsworth, London, GB

Spirits Investment Director

Stilnovisti
London, UK

Junior Brand Manager

Enotria Winecellars
Park Royal, London, UK

Content & Digital Assistant

ABVGlobal
London, UK

Sales Manager

Cellar Trends
London, UK

Editorial Assistant

Wine List Confidential
London, UK

Champagne Masters 2017

Deadline : 7th July 2017

The Global Sparkling Masters 2017

Deadline : 10th July 2017

The Global Malbec Masters 2017

Deadline : 10th July 2017

The Global Syrah Masters 2017

Deadline : 18th July 2017

Click to view more

The Drinks Business Awards 2017

Now in its 15th year, the db awards have become the most authoritative, internationally respected badge of achievement in the alcoholic drinks industry.

The Asian Cabernet Sauvignon Masters 2017

the drinks business Hong Kong announces its first year of The Asian Cabernet Sauvignon Masters.

Rioja Masters 2016

Now in its fifth year, the competition will recognise and reward the finest Riojas on the world stage.

Fortified Masters 2016

Now in its third year, The Fortified Masters will reward the best fortified wines on offer.

Click to view more