The vines arrived in Chile in the 16th century through the Spanish conquistadors and the religious who needed mass wines. Today the activity has grown considerably, to the point of producing some of the best wines in the world. By the way, did you know that the official wine of the Tour de France is a Chilean wine? The Bicicleta vintage of the Bodega Cono Sur has indeed been chosen to represent this sporting competition.The travel agency Chile Chile Excepción proposes us to land in Santiago, from where our wine route begins: a loop around the capital, between the Andes and the Pacific. Are your taste buds ready? Let's go!
This valley, which borders the capital, has specialized in Cabernet Sauvignon, to our great pleasure. The climate here is Mediterranean, with some nuances between the vineyards of the western plains and those of Maipo Alto at the foot of the Andes, which benefit from lower temperatures. The two oldest and most important wine producers in Chile are located here: Concha y Toro and Viña Santa Rita. The first winery offers a visit to the vineyards and a stroll through its immense landscaped park where a wine tasting is organized. We recommend you taste the Almaviva, a wine produced in partnership with Baron Philippe de Rothschild, who is in charge of Château Mouton Rothschild in Bordeaux. Next to the second winery is the restaurant Doña Paula, in an early 19th century hacienda. It offers dishes that particularly highlight the typical wines of the area.
In the area around the city of Santa Cruz, the Colchagua Valley is the most dynamic in the country in terms of wine tourism. Several climatic factors are favourable for the vine: the strong difference in temperature between day and night, and the warm climate that does not cool thanks to the coastal cordillera that blocks the winds coming from the Pacific. It is a perfect climate for intense wines such as Syrah and Carménère, THE wine of Chile. The Montes Cellar produces one of the best rated wines in the country. The building is integrated in the hill, it was built on the advice of a feng-shui master and uses the principle of gravity for the elaboration of the wine, nothing else! His labels Montes Alpha M, Montes Folly and Purple Angel are particularly successful.
The wines of the Viu Manent bodega are of very good quality and have the particularity of being made from Malbec, a grape variety normally reserved for Argentinean wines. A horse-drawn carriage tour is planned before visiting the 1902 hacienda and enjoying a delicious food and wine pairing from the La Terraza restaurant.
Curiosity of the region: the Casa Apostolle, of the Grand Marnier family, which in 2006 inaugurated a building entirely dedicated to the elaboration of its Clot Apalta, a very high quality blend of carménère, merlot, cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot. It presents a very singular architecture in the shape of a nest or staves of burst barrel. Inside an ellipse on 7 floors allows the realization of the wine according to the principle of gravity, decidedly very fashionable in the Chilean wine world.
We head back up to Valparaíso to explore the Casablanca Valley, which has some great surprises in store for us. The strong Pacific winds allow a climate particularly favourable to the elaboration of white wines from Chile: we note in particular very good chardonnay and sauvignon blanc. Several cellars offer high quality wines. We have selected the Indómita for its exuberant white palate which is noticeable from afar and the Casas del Bosque for its excellent sauvignon blanc. A little extra for the latter: it is possible to take part in the harvest!
Casas del Bosque
The roof of the Americas also has a right to its vineyards! A valley deep in the Andes, it shelters few but quality bodegas. One thinks especially of the Errázuriz cellar, founded in 1870. It was Maximiano Errázuriz Valdivieso who was the first to import his vines from France and to settle in the Aconcagua Valley to start winemaking. His wines, such as the Don Maximiano and Single Vineyard single grape varieties, or the Max Reserva blend, have won several awards and are widely exported. The visit of the property begins with a walk among the vineyards surrounded by avocado fields, a speciality of the region, and ends with a tasting of Chilean wines.
Want to know more? Pack your bags and fly to Chile to get your own idea of Chilean grape varieties!
Agathe (Argentina Exception)
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