Producer: Vina Millaman
Region/Appellation: Curico Valley
Country Hierarchy: Chile
Grape/Blend: Cabernet Sauvignon – Malbec
Food Suggestion: Beef and Venison
Wine Style: Red – Bold and Structured
Alcohol Content: 13%
Curico Valley Wine
Curico Valley is a wine-producing region in central Chile, located roughly 115 miles (185km) south of the capital, Santiago. It is divided into two sub-regions: Teno in the north and Lontue in the south. The valley is known for its reliable, good-value everyday wines, particularly the reds made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc.
Curico Valley in Autumn © Matt Wilson/Wines of Chile
Curico was the wine region of choice for Spanish wine legend Miguel Torres when he began his foray into Chilean wine in 1979. Torres brought with him from Spain a number of winemaking techniques and technologies which have had a significant impact on the Chilean wine industry. In those days, Curico was considered to be a southern part of the sprawling Maule wine region, but is now recognized as a region in its own right. The presence of several well-respected and well-established wineries in Curico almost certainly supported the case for its individual recognition.
The valley’s climate is varied. The eastern part – closer to the Andes Mountains – is cooler than the western as it benefits from breezes coming down from the slopes of the Andes. In this way, it differs from regions further north, where the western ends of the valleys, being influenced by the Pacific Ocean, are generally cooler. In Curico, however, the hills of the Coastal Ranges dissipate the effect of east–west air movements. The major centers of production and the established names of Curico Valley wine (Echeverria, Montes, San Pedro, Torres and Valdivieso) are located around the cooler eastern towns of Curico and Molino.
The meltwater rivers Lontue and Teno that flow through Curico Valley before converging to form the Mataquito River have a significant effect on viticulture here. The region’s soils are derived from limestone and volcanic rock from the Andes and have been deposited in the valley over time by the rivers (alluvial) as well as by gravity (colluvial). While these soils are slightly more fertile than in other, more quality-focused wine regions of Chile, they are sufficiently high yielding to cement Curico Valley’s reputation as a quality bulk-producing region.
Curico’s vineyards are planted with more varieties than anywhere else in Chile. The dominant grapes, however, remain the same as they were when the region first appeared on the international wine map: Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc. Curico may have yet to produce a Cabernet Sauvignon to rival Maipo’s red wines and its Sauvignon Blanc still does not match the fresh, complex style found in Casablanca, but the valley is one of Chile’s workhorse regions and its output is consistent and reliable.
Cabernet Sauvignon – Malbec is a blend of two dark red grape varieties, both originally from the vineyards of Bordeaux. While Cabernet Sauvignon is still widely planted there, Malbec has found a new home in the high-altitude vineyards of Argentina. The Cabernet Sauvignon – Malbec blend is usually produced there, making dense, tannic wines with plentiful red and black fruit characters.
Flavor descriptors used to identify the blend’s characteristics will ultimately depend on the proportion of each variety used. In a wine dominated by Malbec, there may be violets on the nose, with dark plums and gamey notes on the palate. For a wine built around Cabernet Sauvignon, it would be more common to experience a mellowed Cabernet style with a rich, blackcurrant-driven mouthfeel. There are no officially designated proportions, but Cabernet is usually used in smaller amounts to bolster Malbec, giving added depth and body. These wines are often aged in oak, and can command high prices.
While both varieties are traditionally a part of the classic Bordeaux Blend (along with Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc), they are rarely seen together in wines from the region, especially without the addition of a third variety. Instead, producers in Mendoza (and to a lesser extent Salta) have been using the blend, as both Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon thrive in the dry, high-altitude terroir there.
Cabernet Sauvignon – Malbec wines are found in various other parts of the world where the two varieties are grown, although Malbec is not nearly as widespread as the ubiquitous Cabernet Sauvignon. Numerous examples of the blend can be found in Chile, Australia, and in particular the United States, where the two varieties are a part of the Meritage blend.
Food matches for Cabernet Sauvignon – Malbec wines include:
- Grilled chorizo sausage
- Barbequed lamb
(sources : wine-searcher)