Regions and soils: Rapel

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

About 150 km south of Santiago, Rapel had more than 42,000 ha/103,000 acres of vineyards in 2012 and is divided into two subzones—Cachapoal to the north and Colchagua to the south. Both are transversal valleys and run from the Andes to the Pacific Ocean. This results in pronounced differences in the wines (primarily reds) produced in the two subvalleys, depending on their proximity to the cooling influence of the Andes (Alto Cachapoal and Alto Colchagua). Some of Chile’s finest Cabernet Sauvignons come from the Andean piedmont in Rapel. Significant individual zones have already been identified within them. Apalta within Colchagua, for example, has a reputation for fine Merlot, Carmenère, and Syrah won, to a large extent by the French-owned winery Casa Lapostolle and by Viña Montes. Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenère, and Merlot are the most planted grape varieties, and the region has a particularly good reputation for full-flavoured red wines. Los Vascos winery, in which Ch lafite-Rothschild has an important stake, is at Peralillo. Large wineries such as Santa Emiliana, Santa Rita, Undurraga, and the smaller Viña Montes operation all made considerable vineyard investments in Colchagua in the 1990s. The latest trend in Rapel, specifically in Colchagua, has been to take maximum advantage of its transversal characteristics by exploiting coastal zones such as Lolol and especially Paredones (just 15 km/9.3 miles from the Pacific) whose Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc rival those of Casablanca and San Antonio for quality and freshness.