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Navarrete: Chile’s future lies in the south

With the threat of global warming and the issue of water availability, Viviana Navarrete of Viña Leyda believes Chile’s winemaking future lies in the south.

Viviana Navarrete of Viña Leyda believes the south of Chile has huge winemaking potential

“Down south is a new world, and I think winemakers will move even further south to make fresher wines, which is what everyone is trying to do.

“The south of Chile gets 1,200mm of rain each year, so it is not suffering the drought conditions of the central areas, and we have to remember that cool is not as cool as it used to be,” Navarrete told db.

“We’re moving into a more erratic reality and it is going to become more challenging to show the terroir and respect the flavour profile in wines from the north and centre of the country.

“You have to be closer and more connected to the vineyards every year. Last year was one of the driest in Chile, and a lot of vineyards are being grubbed due to the drought.

“I’d love to experiment more with Riesling down south. Chile has great conditions for it. At the moment we sell 70% red and 30% white wine in Chile, but we have an amazing coast with a maritime influence that can produce beautiful whites,” she added.

Navarrete said the 2020 harvest was one of the hardest she’s experienced in her 19 years as a winemaker.

“Covid came in the middle of March, so thank god the harvest was early. Almost all of our grapes were in the cellar when the virus hit – we only had a bit of Pinot and Syrah left on the vines, so we were very lucky,” she said. While her Pinot Noir is “looking really promising”, Chardonnay was the variety hardest hit by the crisis.

In order for Chilean wine to raise its reputation around the world, Navarrete supports the idea of stricter regulations when it comes to grape growing and winemaking.

“I think the whole country should move towards more regulations. I wish we could have stricter regulations in the San Antonio Valley in terms of yields, varieties and style, as it’s the only way we can ensure the grape quality of all the producers,” she said.

“Most producers in the valley want more regulation as it will enhance the value of the region, which helps people to have more confidence in the wines, and will allow us to increase our prices. I don’t think consumers understand the effort that goes into our wines,” she added.

Members of the Viñas del Valle de San Antonio group are currently working on a soil map that charts the different soil types found in the seven sub-appellations within the region, and how they influence the style of Pinot Noir made there.

“We have more work to do on regionality and highlighting the divisions between the mountains and the coast. We also need more separation between the sub-regions of the Maipo Valley. The more detail you go into the easier it is for consumers to understand the wines,” Navarrete said.

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