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2011 Loma Larga Pinot Noir, Casablanca Valley
Loma Larga is owned by the Díaz family, whose interest in wine was noted in the Paris wine exhibition of 1889. Don Manuel Joaquín Díaz Escudero Alvarez de Toledo, grandfather of the current owners of Loma Larga, personally brought French vines to Chile from his successive tours of Paris and Bordeaux. These were originally planted in his estate in the heart of Santiago.
With the intention of keeping this wine tradition alive, the family studied the climate and soil of their Casablancan estate, Loma Larga and, firmly believing in its terroir potential, began planting vines in 1999. They are now recognised as one of the best producers of cool climate red wines in Chile. Loma Larga means ‘long hill’, a reference to the raised vineyard site which benefits from the cooling influence of the wind.
The Lomas del Valle range is also made from estate-grown fruit and offers a brighter, more youthful interpretation of the producer’s house style.
Pinot Noir is probably the most frustrating, and at times infuriating, wine grape in the world. However when it is successful, it can produce some of the most sublime wines known to man. This thin-skinned grape which grows in small, tight bunches performs well on well-drained, deepish limestone based subsoils as are found on Burgundy's Côte d'Or.
Pinot Noir is more susceptible than other varieties to over cropping - concentration and varietal character disappear rapidly if yields are excessive and yields as little as 25hl/ha are the norm for some climats of the Côte d`Or.
Because of the thinness of the skins, Pinot Noir wines are lighter in colour, body and tannins. However the best wines have grip, complexity and an intensity of fruit seldom found in wine from other grapes. Young Pinot Noir can smell almost sweet, redolent with freshly crushed raspberries, cherries and redcurrants. When mature, the best wines develop a sensuous, silky mouth feel with the fruit flavours deepening and gamey "sous-bois" nuances emerging.
The best examples are still found in Burgundy, although Pinot Noir`s key role in Champagne should not be forgotten. It is grown throughout the world with notable success in the Carneros and Russian River Valley districts of California, and the Martinborough and Central Otago regions of New Zealand.
Casablanca valley is located approximately 1 hour west of Santiago, south of Aconcagua and north of San Antonio Valley, well-exposed to the cool Pacific ocean breezes. It is Chile's first cool-climate wine producing region, with an internationally established reputation since the early 1990s for its arresting, vibrant, mouth-watering white wines, made predominantly from Chardonnay (over 75%) and Sauvignon Blanc, as well as Viogner and Riesling, exotically perfumed and richly flavoured.
Early morning fog (the result of the Pacific's icy Humboldt current) keeps temperatures low and adds moisture in an otherwise dry terrain. Midday breezes clear the fog, allowing the sunshine to reach and ripen the grapes.
A host of producers tend nearly 4,000 hectares of vines in the valley, which offers a myriad of microclimates. The higher, warmer, frost-free sections are suitable for red varieties like Merlot and Carmenere, while the lower, cooler areas produce excellent fruit for cool-climate grapes Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir.
In acknowledgment of certain similarities between Casablanca and California's Napa Valley, the two valleys signed a viticultural alliance in 2002.
Recommended producer: De Martino