Last week we wrote about the darling of Chilean red wine, Colchagua, but this week we’re giving Colchagua’s fraternal twin, Cachapoal, its fair due. Similar but not identical, Colchagua and Cachapoal lie next to one another in the Rapel Valley, just south of Chile’s capital, Santiago. Cachapoal occupies the northern half of the Rapel Valley, and is known for its rich, full-bodied red wines.
Cachapoal is protected on its western side from the cold winds of the Pacific Ocean by the Coastal Range, allowing ripe, dense wines to be made from cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah and carménère. Small amounts of chardonnay and sauvignon blanc are planted as well, but are mostly consumed locally. The soil in Cachapoal is a mixture of clay, loam and sand, and is prone to erosion on slopes, a constant battle for grape growers. The region is divided into two districts, each with its own distinct terroir and grape specialty. Cachapoal Alto lies across the foothills of the Andes in the east, and grows stunning cabernet sauvignon. Peumo is on the west side of the valley, closer to the ocean, and the cooler climate produces fruity, full-bodied carmenére.
Located less than an hour south of Santiago, Cachapoal is a perfect day trip from the city. For those of us not currently planning a trip to Chile, crack open one of these babies and imagine yourself in idyllic Cachapoal:
VIÑA SAN PEDRO “Castillo de Molina” Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (Cachapoal, Chile) $12
VALLE SECRETO “Private Edition” Syrah-Cabernet Sauvignon-Carmenére 2010 (Cachapoal, Chile) $16
VIÑA SANTA EMA “Amplus One” Carmenére 2010 (Cachapoal, Chile) $20