À Votre Santé
À Votre Santé
Many years ago, I had the marvelous opportunity to study international wines at the World Trade Center in New York City. My focus was primarily on the French Classification of Bordeaux Wines stemming from the 1855 Exposition Universelle de Paris (Exposition Universelle des produits de l'Agriculture, de l'Industrie et des Beaux-Arts de Paris 1855). The results of my studies led me down a fabulously interesting path to knowledge and travel I had not expected.
On my quest to learn more, I stumbled upon a history publicized little in the 21st century. My journey carried me to South America, a continent that boasts some of the planet’s best vineyards. What I discovered was fascinating.
When the Spanish first settled South America, they planted grapes in newly established vineyards. Some of the grape-producing regions like Argentina and Uruguay proved perfect for grape cultivation. Winemakers attempted the planting of European vines and grape varieties, since the climate was as favorable as that of Spain and France. Unfortunately, a yellow sap-sucking parasite known as the phylloxera decimated the vineyards.
The sole exception occurred in Chile. Chilean vineyards have never been subjected to the insect pests, since the country is protected by the Atacama Desert in the north, Antarctica in the south, the Pacific to the west, and most of all, the Andes Mountains along the entire eastern boundary.
Envious viticulturists will remark that Chile’s geographical borders allowed for the planting of original French rootstock, without the necessity to graft onto vines that are phylloxera resistant. Thus, today, although Chile still exports most of its wine to France (for table wine, allowing the French to sell us the $200 bottles), we can enjoy the product of original French grape varieties, from original vines, at relatively inexpensive prices.
À Votre Santé.