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Introduction

Flag of Chile.svg

Chile (/ˈɪli/ (About this soundlisten), /ˈɪl/; Spanish: [ˈtʃile]), officially the Republic of Chile (RepChile.ogg), is a South American country occupying a long, narrow strip of land between the Andes to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far south. Chilean territory includes the Pacific islands of Juan Fernández, Salas y Gómez, Desventuradas, and Easter Island in Oceania. Chile also claims about 1,250,000 square kilometres (480,000 sq mi) of Antarctica, although all claims are suspended under the Antarctic Treaty.

The arid Atacama Desert in northern Chile contains great mineral wealth, principally copper and lithium. The relatively small central area dominates in terms of population and agricultural resources, and is the cultural and political center from which Chile expanded in the late 19th century when it incorporated its northern and southern regions. Southern Chile is rich in forests and grazing lands, and features a string of volcanoes and lakes. The southern coast is a labyrinth of fjords, inlets, canals, twisting peninsulas, and islands.

Spain conquered and colonized the region in the mid-16th century, replacing Inca rule in the north and centre, but failing to conquer the independent Mapuche who inhabited what is now south-central Chile. After declaring its independence from Spain in 1818, Chile emerged in the 1830s as a relatively stable authoritarian republic. In the 19th century, Chile saw significant economic and territorial growth, ending Mapuche resistance in the 1880s and gaining its current northern territory in the War of the Pacific (1879–83) after defeating Peru and Bolivia. In the 1960s and 1970s, the country experienced severe left-right political polarization and turmoil. This development culminated with the 1973 Chilean coup d'état that overthrew Salvador Allende's democratically elected left-wing government and instituted a 16-year-long right-wing military dictatorship that left more than 3,000 people dead or missing. The regime, headed by Augusto Pinochet, ended in 1990 after it lost a referendum in 1988 and was succeeded by a center-left coalition which ruled through four presidencies until 2010.

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Carmenere grapes close.JPG
The Carménère grape is a wine grape variety originally planted in the Médoc region of Bordeaux, France, where it was used to produce deep red wines and occasionally used for blending purposes in the same manner as Petit Verdot.

A member of the Cabernet family of grapes, the name "Carménère" originates from the French word for crimson (carmin) after the hue of the grape in fall. The grape is also known as Grande Vidure, a historic Bordeaux synonym, although current European Union regulations prohibit Chilean imports under this name into the EU. Along with Cabernet sauvignon, Cabernet franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit verdot, Carménère is considered part of the original six noble grapes of Bordeaux, France.

Now rarely found in France, the world's largest area planted with this variety is in Chile in South America, with more than 4,000 Hectares (2006) cultivated in the Central Valley. As such, Chile produces the vast majority of Carménère wines available today and as the Chilean wine industry grows, more experimentation is being carried out on Carménère's potential as a blending grape, especially with Cabernet Sauvignon.

Carménère is also grown in Italy's Eastern Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia regions and in smaller quantities in the California and Walla Walla regions of the United States.

In Australia, 3 cuttings of Carmenère were imported from Chile by renowned viticultural expert Dr Richard Smart in the late 1990s. After 2 years in quarantine, only 1 survived the heat treatment to eliminate viruses and was micro-propagated (segments of individual buds grown on nutrient gel) and field grown by Narromine Vine Nursery. The first vines from the nursery were planted in 2002 by Amietta Vineyard and Winery in the Moorabool Valley (Geelong, Victoria) who use Carmenère in their Angels' Share blend.

Selected biography

RamonFreire.jpg

Ramón Freire Serrano (November 29, 1787 – December 9, 1851) was a Chilean military and political figure.

Freire was born in Santiago in 1787 but moved to Concepción where he in 1811 joined the independist struggle by entering the army as a cadet. After the collapse of the independent Patria Vieja following a Spanish invasion he and many other Chilean took refuge in independent Argentina.

Freire returned to Chile together with the José de San Martín's Army of the Andes in 1817. Once in Chile Freire was sent with a hundred men to liberate Talca. Later, he fought in the decisive Battle of Maipú.

After the royalist collapse, Freire was named intendant of Concepción, Chile. From that city, he led operations against a mix of outlaws and royalist and Mapuche guerrillas in what has come to been known as the Guerra a muerte ("War to the Death") phase of the Chilean war for independence.

In 1823, Freire rose against the authoritarian government of Bernardo O'Higgins, forcing him to renounce his position as supreme director. The successful insurrection catapulted Freire into becoming head of state himself; in that office, he exiled O'Higgins and abolished slavery.

The following year, 1824, Freire organized an expedition to expel the royalist Spanish from the Chiloé Archipelago, their last stronghold. The expedition failed after republican Jorge Beauchef lost the Battle of Mocopulli. In 1826, Freire tried again to conquer Chiloé, this time leading an army of 2,500 men himself; the governor of Chiloé, Antonio de Quintanilla, surrendered to the superior force.

Freire was again elected head of state in 1827, this time with the title of president; but he resigned the office later the same year. In 1829, José Joaquín Prieto led a successful insurrection that created a junta (a congress of notables), which Freire did not recognise and which he opposed in the Battle of Lircay. After being defeated, he went into exile in Peru. From Peru, he managed to hire two ships with which he planned to capture Chiloé and from there overthrow the new regime. After a secret shipboard mutiny, however, he was handed over to Chilean officials.

Freire then was sent to the prison island of Robinson Crusoe by direct orders from Diego Portales. He returned to mainland Chile only in 1842 and retired from public life. He died in 1851.

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Did you know?

  • ...that Ojos del Salado is the highest mountain in Chile and the highest volcano in the world?
  • ...that the Chinchorro mummies are the oldest examples of mummified human remains, dating to thousands of years before the Egyptian mummies?

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