In 1952, patriarch Søren Axelsen left his native Copenhagen to travel the world. Eventually, he settled in California to grow his own grapes. But he never forgot the remarkable growing regions he had seen in Chile, in particular Colchagua Valley, which showed such great potential to produce world-class wines.
By 1989, he had realized his dream, founding Viña La Playa alongside his sons Peter and Eric. Viña La Playa of Chile is a partnership between the Axelsens and two promient Chilean winemaking legends: the Sutil and Errázuriz families. The winery encompasses 597 acres of prime property in the Colchagua Valley, where its vineyards enjoy a unique microclimate that fosters the growth of premium wine grapes.
With near-perfect growing conditions, Colchagua Valley has been described as "The Next Napa" (Wine Enthusiast, March 2002) as "arguably Chile's premier opportunity for world-class wine production" (Wine Spectator, April 30, 2002), and as "2005 Wine Region of the Year," yeilding "some of the most compelling wines in the world" (Wine Enthusiast, 2005).
Learn More About Sauvignon Blanc
Sauvignon Blanc (so-veen-YAWN blahnk)
One of the most distinctive grapes, Sauvignon Blanc is a highly aromatic variety
that does well in both the old and new world. From the Loire
Valley of France to Marlborough
in New Zealand, Sauvignon Blanc has found many regions that bring out its unique
and delicious flavors.
Sauvignon Blanc's home is the Loire Valley of France, where it produces the
crisp, grassy mineral-tinged wines of Sancerre and Pouilly Fume (not to be mistaken
with Pouilly Fuisse in Burgundy
- that would be Chardonnay). Wine of this region is crisp and grassy, with delicious minerality and an
occasional gun flint/smokey character. In the 1970's, New Zealand planted its first cuttings
of Sauvignon Blanc, which in turn brought the country to the forefront of the
wine world. In New Zealand, the variety exudes its typical crisp acidity, as
well as pungent passion fruit and grapefruit aromas and flavors. In
Sauvignon Blanc is produced both in stainless steel (like New Zealand and France)
and with a touch of oak. The wooded versions maintain the acidity of the grape
but tone down the intense citrus flavors with subtle oak characteristics. Winemakers
differ in their addition or choice of oak. The grape also produces delicious
wines from Chile and
Summing it up
Successful Sites: Loire Valley, New Zealand, California, Chile, Italy
Common Descriptors: grass, lemon, grapefruit, passion fruit.
Learn More About Chile, South America
Long and thin, Chile has a lot of land north to south. The wine region here is a series of districts based near Santiago. The vineyards are protected by the Pacific on the west and the Andes mountains on the east. This could help explain why the climate changes more from east to west than north to south – also why the country has remained phylloxera free. Quite a few wineries in Chile were founded by large French wine companies. Seeing the potential of the country, vineyards were bought and planted by these French folks and the results tell of a smart investment. Some of these wineries include: Los Vascos, Casa Lapostolle and Cousino Macul.
And while the inspiration may have been French, but the wines here are quite Chilean.
The main regions of Chile include Maipo (pronounced MY-poh), known for reds like Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere; Casablanca Valley, a region producing delicious Sauvignon Blanc, as well as other whites & some
reds; Colchaugua, an inland district creating amazing red wines from Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, particularly in the Apalta sub-region; and Rapel Valley, settled right under Maipo and producing the same red varietals. A couple of smaller regions to watch include Limari and Elqui, two valleys further north, producing some delicious cool-climate Chardonnay and Bio Bio, an area further south, which is also focused on cool-climate varieties. Chilean wines are growing in exports and more consumers are enjoying the delicious values coming from the country. Red wines of the region, though they cannot be generalized, make the whole gamut of wine quality – quaffable to collectible. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot & Carmenere are the main players, though Syrah is also making a splash. Some of the best reds are blends of the above varieties. As for whites, Sauvignon Blanc is typically crisp, herbal and racy, while Chardonnay is richer in style with full-bodied texture and tropical fruit flavors.