Chile: Vine varieties

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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vine identification arrived relatively late in Chile. Conscious of its unique status as a wine-producing country as yet unravaged by phylloxera, Chile imposes a particularly strict quarantine on imported plant material, which has helped to maintain certain aspects of its viticultural isolation. The quality and identity of the vines grown was the most dramatic example of this. The majority of the vines called Sauvignon by the Chileans, for example, were almost certainly Sauvignon Vert, sauvignonasse (or Friulano) and occasionally Sauvignon Gris, rather than the more familiar Sauvignon Blanc. Only a small but increasing proportion of Sauvignon Blanc, almost exclusively based on clones developed in California, had been planted by the early 1990s and even by the mid 2000s official statistics claiming 7,400 ha/18,300 acres of Sauvignon Blanc and just 200 ha of Sauvignon Vert probably did not reflect the true proportions of these two varieties. Thanks to the new plantations and more fastidious differentiation between Sauvignons Blanc and Vert, official statistics for 2012 suggest there are 14,131 ha/34,918 acres of Sauvignon Blanc versus just 792 ha/1,957 acres of Sauvignon Vert.