Friday, June 12, 2009


Chile has been a fairly easy wine subject, in that my store’s Chilean wine section continues to grow and grow. It is arguably one of the best selling categories for us right now, and is certainly based primarily in Bordeaux varietals. Carmenere, Chile’s signature grape, is one of the hottest things on our shelves right now, thanks to our wine madman, Alfonse, as well as the entire LD team.

Studying for the test (which I will have taken earlier this morning – I love posting ahead of schedule), here are the review questions the SWE study guide has given me:

1. Define the Chilean borders and describe their significance. There is a desert to the north, the Andes to the east, the Pacific Ocean to the west and Antarctica to the south. Their geographical location has cut them off from the world, and has subsequently kept their vines, all of which are pre-phylloxera vines from Europe, are actually impervious to the threat of phylloxera.

2. What is the largest fine wine region in Chile? Maule Valley

3. What is Pais? A red grape variety also known as Mission in the U.S. and Criolla in Argentina.

4. What influences Chile’s weather patterns? The Pacific Ocean and its cold Humboldt Current.

5. Rainfall increases and temperatures decrease as you progress south and east down Chile’s Central Valley, true or false? True.

6. Describe the “rule of 75 percent”. The minimum requirements for Varietal, estate bottling, vintage and place of origin.

7. In Chile, much of what was believed to be Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot actually turned out to be something else. What? In the case of Sauvignon Blanc, it is actually Sauvignon Vert (a clone of Sauvignon Blanc also called Sauvignonasse or Tocai in Italy). For Merlot, the grape is actually Carmenere, which is fast-becoming Chile’s signature grape (as Malbec has for Argentina).

8. A fourth of Chile’s Chardonnay hails from one wine region. Which one? The much colder, more coastal Casablanca Valley.

9. Name three growing regions within Chile’s Central Valley. Maipo Valley, Rapel Valley, Curico Valley. Also Maule Valley.

10. What wine growing district lies at the southern end of Chile’s Central Valley? The Bio-Bio Valley.

Hopefully, this and all the other info I have been swallowing has paid off. I will let you know in 6-8 weeks. (Wha?!)


Rob Bralow said...

Definitely looks like you are soaking in the knowledge!

I recently used to represent Chile (don't anymore) and I have some thoughts. You obviously have been studying harder than I, and the official book may say something different that what I have to say, so take the below as just some friendly comments.

1) The Atacama desert is the driest in the world and in the south you have Patagonia (not quite Antarctica)

2) If you are including Rapel as a valley instead of splitting it into Colchagua and Cachapoal, then Rapel would be the largest.

6) only in country. if the wine is exported the number is 85.

10) There is another region more southern called Malleco, although very few wines come from there.

I hope that helps!

k2 said...


I soon discovered at the test (actually before) that the study guide is "dated." I posted previously about 29 DOCGs only to learn through reader comments it's now 44! Thanks for the tips though. I hope that when I take the next test, they'll incorporate info like this into the revised edition.