15 April, 2019
Guide to viticultural regions essential in Chile
If you venture a little outside the limits of the city of Santiago, the lively capital of Chile, the landscape quickly passes from the urban to the agrarian. The rolling valleys extend in all directions, lined with ordered rows of rolled vines.
This is a Chilean wine country, a long and narrow stretch of countryside that stretches over 2,600 kilometers up and down. Traveling the entire distance by car would take weeks when you take into account all the stops required – wineries, restaurants, breathtaking panoramas – but it's a trip well rewarded with world-class vintages and delicious meals. For those looking for just a taste, the country still has plenty of diversity to live on even the shortest routes.
The Chilean wine region in general is not a region, but a series of valleys of different heights and heights, known for their microclimates and cross-rivers that guide the cooling breezes of the Pacific Ocean, providing warm temperatures. ideal for ripening. Grapes.
To make the most of the soothing charm of Chile wine, it's a good idea to start from the north and head south. While you can drink your way through the countryside for a year without always tasting everything – but there is no harm in trying! We designed a four-day tour to give you a taste of all things Chilean wine.
Most international visitors to Chile arrive in Santiago. Therefore, after your arrival, you would like to take another 45-minute flight to La Serena to begin your wine odyssey. Stop in the seaside resort; Founded in 1544, it is the second oldest city in the country. Take a few hours to admire the beautiful colonial architecture of La Serena and its beaches dotted with palm trees. When hunger strikes, hit the Jack Fish ceviche for colorful plates of fresh fish splashed with sour citrus.
Take Highway 41 and head for the Elqui Valley, Chile's northernmost wine region. The region has a cool desert climate, with dry summers and mild winters. The strong winds of the Pacific Ocean and Andes make wonders for the grapes grown here, which range from Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. It also helps the soil be filled with pebbles and gravel – which is not good for most crops, but perfect for vines that need drainage.
Leave and take Highway 41 into the Elqui Valley, Chile's northernmost wine region. The area enjoys a cool desert climate, with dry summers and mild winters.
Discover one of the many pisco distilleries of the region, such as the Pisco Mistral Distillery, Fundo Los Nichos and Doña Josefa de Elqui. Made from grapes like Muscat and Quebranta, pisco is Chile's most popular spirit.
Once night falls, it is time to observe the stars: the Elqui Valley is home to the world's first international starry sky sanctuary. Stop at the Cerro Mamalluca observatory for a night sky tour. Once you've had enough, return to La Serena and spend the night in the comfortable beach hotel Club La Serena.
Travel five hours further south on scenic Highway 60, which runs along the blue expanse of the Pacific Ocean, to the Aconcagua region of Chile. It houses the highest peak of the Andes and has been praised in recent years for the wealth of its red wines, at the height of the best French wines. This is partly due to the cool day breezes from the Pacific Ocean, which moderates the otherwise high temperatures of the region and reduces the risk of vine diseases.
Your first stop is Viña San Esteban, in the valley of Aconcagua, which grows a wide range of grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to Carménère, Syrah and Sangiovese. Take a guided tour of the vineyard before heading to the tasting room. Do not leave without stopping at the archaeological park located in the area of Viña San Esteban, which houses Inca rock carvings dating back over 1000 years.
Viñedos Veramonte, an all-organic company located about two hours southwest by car. The Casablanca Valley is known for its fresh morning mist from the sea, making it ideal for growing white grapes such as Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, as well as cold-weather reds such as pinot noir, merlot and Syrah. Taste Viñedos Veramonte. Then cycle through the vineyards and visit the hotel's Calicata Restaurant for a steak sandwich and ruby red tartare.
While in the area, visit the nearby Emiliana Organic Vineyards. Taking advantage of the diversity of the Chilean terroir, Emiliana has vineyards spread over seven Chilean wine valleys. In the tasting room, opt for Emiliana's exclusive wine, Coyam, a juicy and deeply tasty red blend, or the creamy, fruity white blend of Signos de Origen.
There is still a stop today: Viña Casa Marin, nestled in the San Antonio Valley. Although only 40 minutes drive from the Casablanca Valley, the soil is richer in calcium and the vines closer to the sea, creating light, aromatic and mineral-rich wines. Try some in the Viña Casa Marin tasting room; Cartagena's cellar label includes Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Noir.
Out of stock? This is enough. Fortunately, Viña Casa Marin has an on-site villa, Villa Miramar. The space is surrounded by Sauvignon Blanc vineyards and the rooms offer majestic views of the Pacific Ocean and the town of Lo Abarca.
Try some in the Viña Casa Marin tasting room; The Cartagena cellar label includes Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Noir. Photo credit: Casa Marin.
Today and tomorrow, we are talking about the Central Valley region, which produces the most wines in Chile and is probably the best-known region of the country on the international scene. This is typically rustic; horse-drawn carts are still common here.
Discover first Don Melchor Casona, a mansion belonging to Concha y Toro, the largest producer of wines of Latin America. Taste the iconic wine of the operation, a distinctive cabernet sauvignon bred in French oak barrels.
Then stack yourself in the car and drive two hours further south in the Maipo Valley, one of the region's most famous regions. Enter Viña Ventisquero to try its Cabernet Sauvignon; Then take a 30 minute ride to Viña MontGras, in the Colchagua Valley. Recharge yourself with a blend of the Ninquén red blend and one of Viña MontGras pre-packaged picnic baskets filled with bread, cheese, fruit, cold cuts and more.
The last stop of the day is Viña Los Vascos, a Chilean winery owned by Domaines Barons de Rothschild. The volcanic soil here is sandy and clayey, giving tasty Cabernet Sauvignon, Carménère, Syrah, Malbec and Chardonnay. Visit the facilities to try wines like The Ten of Los Vascos, a red complex assemblage consisting of 70-year-old vines from Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Carménère.
Relax for the night in the nearby estate of Hacienda Historica, an eighteenth century country house completely restored and surrounded by an elegant estate.
Rest for the night in the nearby estate Hacienda Historica, an 18th century country house completely restored and surrounded by an elegant park. Photo credit: Hacienda Histórica.
Your last day in the Chilean wine region takes you further into the Maule Valley, one of the oldest growing regions in the country. It has some of the coolest temperatures in all Chilean wine regions and, thanks to the Maule River, its alluvial soil is rich in granite, red clay, red clay, potting soil and gravel-friendly gravel.
Start the day at the Viña Vik winery, which extends over 11,000 acres and includes a restaurant, lounge, spa, wine shop and 22-suite hotel. Try the VIK wine, a fruity and dynamic blend similar to the fat and tasty Bordeaux.
Then, drive for a short trip by car: two hours to the south will take you to the magnificent glass tasting room of VIA Wines. Located amidst the vineyards of the San Rafael farmhouse and hanging over a peaceful lagoon on the property, the building seems to float. It's a magical setting to taste Red One, a full-bodied blend with notes of fresh fruit, coffee beans, vanilla and cocoa.
Two hours further south, you will head for the magnificent glass tasting room at VIA Wines. Photo credit: Via Wines Winery.
Finally, head to the Mingre area of Viña Bouchon. The Mediterranean climate means that summer temperatures can range between 47 and 86 degrees, which is perfect for achieving a high color concentration in grapes. There are about 50 acres, covering Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Carménère, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Syrah, Carignan, País, Garnacha and Mourvèdre. Visit the main cellar building, a mud-brick structure with terracotta floors from the 1890s, then head to the tasting room to taste the Extra Brut Cap made from País and Cinsault grapes.
Your adventure is now over and the time has come to return to Santiago. But do not worry, there will still be plenty to eat and drink on your next return trip.
This article is sponsored by Wines of Chile. Taste the unexpected.