November 11, 2011
In the southernmost region of the Atacama Desert and 400 kilometers north of Santiago lies the Limarí Valley. The pure, crystal-clear waters of the Limarí River, originating in the Andes Mountains, are responsible for giving life to this oasis in the midst of an arid desert landscape in the northern area of Chile’s IV Region.
In the early 1990s different wine varieties where planted in the Limarí Valley, thiswas completely unprecedented al the time, but this venture would pay off in the mid-2000s. Casillero del Diablo was one of those who opted for this area and today boasts plantings of several wine varieties with Limarí Valley origin denomination, such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir among others.
In more technical terms, the valley’s climate, soil and skies are completely different from other wine growing valleys in Chile. Its millennial soils are part of an ancient seabed. As the area’s scant rainfall has not been able to wash away the abundant calcium salts found in the subsoil, the wines have a high minerality, which in turn brings out the natural freshness and acidity of wines produced in this area.
It may seem odd that a valley located in the middle of a semi-desert area can be a cool zone, however this is the case with Limarí Valley. The Coastal Mountains of Chile usually form a protective barrier from cold Pacific Ocean winds; however, in this area there are no coastal mountains and thus the marine influence is much greater than in the Central Valley further south. The annual average temperature is 15°C and the maximum temperature, between November and February is 26°C.
In addition to these important factors, this area has some of the world’s clearest skies. The lack of moisture in the atmosphere leads to extremely high solar radiation, producing thicker grape skins and highly concentrated wines. The atmosphere’s clarity and high number of clear days explains why some of the most important astronomic observatories in Chile and the world are found in this region.
“In spite of the high luminosity that exists in this region during the day, the mornings are characterized by cold breezes and fog coming in from the Pacific Ocean. These cool down the vines and reduce direct light during the mornings, allowing us to obtain high quality wines with notable freshness and less sweet fruit,” says Marcelo Papa, Casillero del Diablo winemaker.
Marcelo Papa adds that during the past five years the Limarí Valley has achieved great fame and positioning in the wine world. “Traditionally Limarí was known as a pisco, a Chilean liquor, producing area the area, but today it is becoming known for the extraordinary wines that we are creating,” he concludes.