Chile has gained four new Denominations of Origin, marking a major step in the country’s efforts to better communicate its multitude of microclimates beyond its politically fixed geographical boundaries. The new DOs were made official following their publication in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Chile. The addition of three of these DOs was particularly significant given that they are not part of a municipality, as defined by Chile’s political boundaries. Up until now, any DO had to be located within a political municipality in order to become a DO.
In a practical loosening of requirements, now a prospective DO must be at the least close to a locality of the same name and/or a vineyard of international acclaim. For example Quebrada Sca, a microclimate within the Limarí Valley, and which is known for its production of Chardonnay, was not permitted to become a DO, as it is not itself a specific place. The three new DOs made under the new precedent include Lo Abarca, in the San Antonio Valley, and Apalta and Los Lingues, which are both in the Colchagua Valley.
Its signifies the Chilean authority’s recognition of individual, smaller regions, known by producers for their unique climactic characteristics, but previously ineligible for DO status, and is a major coup for Chilean winemakers seeking to communicate the unique conditions of certain subregions and the quality of their wines. It opens the possibility of further microclimates in Chile, irrespective of their political municipality, being considered for DO status. A fourth area, Licantén, was also made a DO, in line with previous guidelines, as it was already recognised as a district of the Curicó Valley.
Producers will now be able to include these DOs on their labels, along with its respective Andes, Costa or Entre Cordilleras status, indicating its proximity to and influence of either the coast or the Andes mountains. Los Lingues may use Andes and Apalta may use Entre Cordilleras, while Lo Abarca and Licantén will be able to use Costa. One winery looking to establish its prominence in the Licantén DO is La Ronciere (“magic stone”), which planted its 200 hectare Idahue vineyard 25km from the coast in 2012 and is uniquely dedicated entirely to red varieties, with parcels broken down by their specific soil composition, which includes plots of llicorella (schist), clay and gravel.