Comparative Evaluation of Cabernet Sauvignon Clones in Cauquenes

Column by Álvaro González
R+D Deputy Director

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How can the qualitative and productive potential of vineyards be increased? And how to make them more uniform? These are some of the questions that wine grape growers around the world ask themselves. Different answers to these questions have arisen which address phytosanitary, irrigation technology and vineyard design issues, among others.

One response which has gained increasing relevance and interest in recent years is based on the use of grapevine clones. According to “Manuel de Viticulture” by Alain Reynier, the origins of this practice date back to the 1960-1980 period in France and Germany, where clonal selection was promoted to achieve certified vines, free from disease and suitable for the production of a sufficient quantity of high quality grapes.

Due to its significance, Viña Concha y Toro’s Center for Research and Innovation (CRI) decided to investigate this alternative under local conditions in the Chilean wine industry, and initiated a long-term study (five consecutive seasons) to conduct a comparative evaluation of the qualitative and productive performance of Cabernet Sauvignon clones in the Cauquenes area. The ENTAV-INRA clones 169, 191, 337 used by the CRI were obtained through the Center’s strategic partnership with Mercier Group, the largest grapevine nursery in France.

The selection of the wine grape variety was also carefully studied. In terms of planted surface area, Cabernet Sauvignon is the largest grape variety for wine production in Chile. According to the Agriculture and Livestock Service’s (SAG) Vineyard Register, 44,176 hectares of this variety were planted as of 2014, corresponding to 32% of the total area planted for wine production in the country. Furthermore, Cabernet Sauvignon is the main red wine grape variety in terms of production and quality, supporting the development of Chile’s wine industry.

Through this study, whose official title is “Comparative evaluation of productive parameters and wine quality of Cabernet Sauvignon clones in the Cauquenes area,” the CRI will be a focal point for the transfer of applied and technical knowledge, contributing highly useful information to the Chilean wine industry which will enable uncertainty in the planning of new plantations in the Cauquenes area to be reduced, improving decision-making on Cabernet Sauvignon grapevine materials (clones) to be planted, the management of their production and the interaction between both aspects.