Chile wines

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 August, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 August, 1998, 12:00am

The wines of Chile are influenced by many things, not just the bewildering collection of micro-climates along the flanks of the Andes and in the hot inland valleys, but also by the men and women who grow the grapes and make the wines.

There are the original grape planters, mostly from stout Basque or sturdy Catalan stock. French influence in the industry was prominent from the middle of the 19th century and in later times, German, Swiss, Croatian and American wine-makers and investors have flooded into the country.

But the Italians have had perhaps the greatest impact. Getting off the migrant boats last century, they fanned out looking for good land. No matter what crops they raised, there was always a patch of vines to make the family wine.

Some of these plantings have emerged as noble wines of distinction. One example is the Cremaschi Furlotti family, which concentrates on making a chardonnay and a cabernet sauvignon in an environmentally friendly manner. The result is splendid wines.

At the recent Vinexpo wine show in Hong Kong, Chile stole much of the attention. Among the 50 wineries showing their products was Cremeschi, whose labelling alone is sufficiently persuasive to make you try their wines.

It was the company's first venture into Asia. They tell me negotiations to find an agent are going well and the first shipments of this most drinkable wine should be on sale here soon.