We recently spent some time in Chile. That’s right, while you were all here freezing and shoveling non-stop in February we were enjoying South America’s summer. It was hot but pleasant. Of course wine is always part of our vacations.
We attended a wine tasting of some of Chile’s iconic wines. It was great to be able to taste these wines up against one another. Included in the lineup were Montes Folly Syrah 2010, Montes Alpha M 2011 blend, Montes Purple Angle 2012 Carmenere, Kai Carmenere 2012, La Cumbre Syrah 2012, Seña 2012 blend and Don Maximiano Founders Reserve 2009 blend. These wines are not easy to find and a few are not even exported but a tasting of this caliber was hard to turn down.
At another stop we visited Casas Del Bosque a winery in Valle De Casablanca. A beautiful Bodega built for tourism for tasting and dining. It is 70 km from Santiago and 30 km from Valparaiso. The winery was started in 1993 by Juan Cunco Solari a son of an Italian immigrant. He was the first to start a winery in the Casablanca Valley area.
At this time they have a total of 1200 hectares with 232 hectares on the winery site. Plantings consist of Riesling, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah and Pinot Noir. In Rapel and Maipo they grow Carménére and Cabernet Sauvignon. They produce 90,000 cases a year in total.
All the grapes here are picked by hand and all the sorting is done by women -who have a better eye and a gentle touch! Or so we were told by our tour guide! When the wine is put in barrels and placed in the barrel room music is played for 2 hours every morning as they feel this gives the juice a bit of vibration and good energy. This is biodynamic handling on steroids!
In 2010 chief winemaker Grant Philips was hired. He is from New Zealand and his goal was to make the best Sauvignon Blanc in Chile. He attained that goal as this winery is now noted for it. He crafts 3: Reserva, Gran Reserva and Pequeñas Producciones. These have tremendous fruit expression and are undoubtedly Chile’s best. Our customers have been enjoying it too.
The Bodega is very scenic and you can borrow a bike and ride around the vineyard. When you are finished they have a great restaurant on the premises, Tanino. They also have a tasting room so that you may taste their finely crafted wines. Our pourer was Laura who, though quite young, was extremely knowledgeable and professional.
Chile has lots of diversity within this small country of 292,260 square miles. There are 12 wine regions: Elqui, known for Pisco; Limari; Aconcaqua; Casablanca; San Antonio, a new area; Maipo, the oldest; Cachapoal; Colchayua; Curicó, Maule, the largest; Itata and Bio Bio, the coldest. So you get many different terroirs from the highest Mountain Aconcagua at 22,828 feet to the coast with maritime influences and then all the valleys in between. Surely there is something for everyone.