A vineyard in central Chile.
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Chile’s Santa Carolina is attempting to recover old grape varietals.

Mike Pomranz
Updated February 20, 2019

Red Burgundies may be the heavy-hitters driving the most insane prices at wine auctions, but in the end, they’re almost all made with the same variety of grape: Pinot Noir. If you really want to try something that’s hard to get your hands on, the Santa Carolina winery in Chile has recently discovered something much rarer: a vine of Plant de Chaudefonds — reportedly believed to be the only example of the grape variety grown outside of France and one of only three plants known to exist in the entire world.

“A core portion of our R&D projects is recovery of old grape varietals and vineyards,” Santa Carolina explains on its website. Specifically, the winery has a plot of grapes known as the “Chacra Centenario” in its vineyard in Totihue. According to The Drinks Business, this block has 14 rare grape varieties from the “pre-phylloxera” days that the brand has been working to restore, and all but one had been identified. Now, the background of that final mysterious vine has been uncovered: Plant de Chaudefonds 53, a red grape variety that apparently originally comes from Chaudefonds-sur-Yaon in the Loire in France.

“The discovery belongs to the renowned French ampelographer Jean-Michel Boursiquot,” Santa Carolina continues. “This finding evidences the criticality of this recovery project, not only for Santa Carolina, but for global winemaking.”

The winery says that for now, the rare grape variety is being reproduced by one of their teams so that further research can be conducted, but — as any good winemaker should — they’re already thinking about whether it can be used to make wine. Santa Carolina says they plan to “evaluate its potential and possible vinification in a few years.” So it doesn’t sound like we’ll be seeing any bottles soon, but a few years down the road is definitely more interesting than never.

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