Letter from Chile: save the south

‘My friend Steve Anderson died earlier this year. Car crash, southern Chile. A journalist, campaigner and all-round cranky man, he gave me my first proper job. His main role in life was to be a pain in the backside. Mainly to those in positions of power, in a country that sorely needed champions for the dispossessed, disappeared and disenfranchised.’

So begins my column in the latest Decanter magazine.

It wasn’t easy to write. But I wanted to pay tribute to someone who helped me and to whom I’ll never be able to say ‘thank you’ again.

Steve was also a champion and protector of Chile’s countryside, especially that of the glorious but imperilled south, where he had a home.

It’s one of the most spectacular landscapes on the planet but it’s at risk from big business. One of these is the wood pulp industry, which feeds off vast expanses of pine forests. These trees and their quick bucks increasingly threaten an historic and promising wine culture and tradition in Chile’s southern wine lands.

But there are signs of a wine revival in Chile’s south. The likes of Louis-Antoine Luyt, De Martino, Miguel Torres Chile and Lomas Campesinas have all played a part. Chilean winemaking behemoth San Pedro has even teamed up with the local indigenous Mapuche community to make Pinot Noir.

All promising signs. Where will it end? Who knows. But they’ll need consumer support at the very least. And I for one will be raising a glass.

[Peter Richards MW’s Letter from Chile appears in¬†Decanter¬†magazine October 2018 edition]

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