visiting wineries in Chile
Going to Santiago for a week in March and am hoping to visit a couple of the best wineries in the local area or near Valparaiso (coast). Before I spend hours poring over maps, where should I visit and what should I taste? I won't have a car but am suspicious of organized bus tours because they usually hit a bunch of tourist traps or duds.
Thank you so much, everyone! I have sent a few emails to the wineries closest to Santiago. My wine critic friend Chris recommended Vina Santa Rita and Matetic as well.
Which wineries are in the Puente Alto region of Maipo valley?
Is there a website out there that maps wine regions? I spent an hour last night at Chapters (our big bookstore) poring over books about Chile but am still a bit confused.
re: Food Tourist
According to my 2007 edition map of chilean wine regions (Origo ediciones firstname.lastname@example.org ), the wineries in or near Puente Alto are: Vinedo Chadwick, Almaviva, Cavas del Maipo, Santa Alicia, Concha y Toro, William Fevre, El Principal. Santa Rita is not too far from those right of the Pan American highway going south. Matetic is in the San Antonio Valley(aka Leyda valley) on the road to San Antonio. We found the Leyda sauvignon blancs we sampled much more to our liking than the Casablanca one (both from Montes).
Regarding shipping, none of the wineries we visited offered shipping services though all provided contact info for US distributors. Only bottle we brought back was Neyen, paid $60 for an 04 only to find it online here for $39 (+S&H), live and learn.
re: Sam Spade
re: Food Tourist
Didn't make it to any of the coastal wineries on this trip as we were mostly interested in reds. We sampled the sauvignon blancs at Montes(colchagua valley) and were offered their Leyda SB after finding their Casablanca SB not to our liking. Montes (and several other colchagua/maipo wineries) only have vinyards in Casablanca and other regions from which the white grapes are brought. On the road to Vina del Mar you will see several roadside signs for the "Ruta del vino-Casablanca" but to the best of my knowledge only Veramonte is set up to take drop-in visitors.
re: Sam Spade
Just back from a mini tour of Maipo, Cachapoal, Colchagua, Curico Valleys. Ellaystingray is right on the mark in letting you know that most chilean wineries are definately not set up for casual drop ins and require reservations for tours and tastings.
Not having much info to go on prior to our departure, we contacted a very accomodating gentleman named Brian Pearson (US # (802)904-6798 )to arrange transportation/reservations/guide. On to the wines...
Antiyal (Maipo)-organic,biodynamic small winery
Altair (Cachapoal) Truly spectacular location and views with wines to match
Neyen(Colchagua) boutique single product winery-very good visit
Montes(Colchagua)-very feng-shui yet commercial at the same time, several wine lines-expect to pay extra for icon wine tastings
Viu Manent-Touristy, "the concha y Toro of the colchagua valley" Nice restaurant and grounds tour
Miguel Torres(Curico) definately skip this one
Echevarria(Curico) Excellent tour/tasting conducted by owner
Alta Cima(Curico) Another excellent experience, lunch with owner/winemaker
Casa Lapostolle Clos Apalta (Colchagua)-The Jewel in the Crown so to speak. Do not miss this!!
I wouldn't expect to do more than 3 visits a day. Only a few wineries have restaurants on site (Viu Manent, Casa Silva, Torres). Overnight accomodations are available in Santa Cruz which also has an excellent museum. You could theoretically overnight in Santiago but that would involve 2-3 hours each way travel time.
You should be there as harvesting begins.....enjoy!!!!!
I hate to do this to you but you probably need to spend those hours pouring over maps....and writing some emails ahead of time. As noted, most wineries aren't set up for walk-ins--though many are set up to take guests with notice. You'll also need to figure out how you want to organize your transportation as just jumping a cab doesn't really work unless you hire the car of the whole day--probably your best bet. I haven't been on an "organized" bus tour so I can't speak to those.
While there are some wineries within reasonable distance of Santiago, it isn't exactly a simple day trip without a car. Santiago is a sprawling metropolitan city and just getting out of town is often a 30 minute trip depending on where you are staying. While the Casablanca region is nestled between Santiago and the coast, I don't recall many places that are set up to take visitors other than Veramonte and that is not usually on anyone's list of the best wineries in Chile.
I would focus on the regions of Maipo and Rapel just to the south of Santiago. Vina Almaviva and Clos Apalta are two stunning wineries with stunning wines. I like the wine at Almaviva a little better but Clos Apalta is in the top 10 most beautiful wineries I've seen anywhere in the world. No, make that top 5. And the juice doesn't suck either. Both of these wineries make essentially one wine but at Almaviva, their second label "Epu" is a personal favorite. If you go to Clos Apalta, Montes winery is just a few minutes away and worth the visit. The wines are not at the "Icon" level of the other two mentioned, IMO, but they are still way above average. If you can set up these three, you'll have a full day as it just simply takes time to get around. At Montes taste the "Alpha" Series. It isn't always your choice exactly what you taste at certain wineries but their Purple Angel and Folly are also really good.
Concha Y Toro is one of the few places set up so you can just walk in and taste. It is beautiful and relatively close to town. However, while they make some really nice wines, they also make boatloads of fairly inoccuous wine. And their retail room will remind you of something right out of Napa Valley.
And a note about Errazuriz--it is not very close to Santiago. I agree that the wines, particularly the Don Maximiano Founder's Reserve, are great, but Aconcagua is a serious trek.
If nothing else, go to the wine bar at the Ritz Carlton downtown and gaze at the Andes while trying all the best examples of Chilean wine. Less driving and great food to boot!
Had dinner last night at Adra at the Ritz in Las Condes and tried a "flight" of wines. The Sommelier, Christian, brought 4 wines for 15,000 pesos. Selections were from their regular by-the-glass list which offers two of each variety. The ones I received were: Arboleta Sauv. Blanc 2007 from Casablanca; Cono Sur "20 Barricas" Pinot Noir 2006 from Casablanca; Morande Carmenere edicion limitada 2005 from Maipo; and De Martino Cab Sauv single vineyard 2005 from Maule (I have no idea). The Morande Carmenere was my favourite.
re: Chicago Mike
There was a recent article in a major newspaper...may have been the NY Times, about wine touring in Chile. The article said that most wineries in Chile give tastings "by appointment only." So do your research before you go and perhaps make your appointments now.
Top Chilean wineries....(spelling may be off)
Concha Y Toro
Errazuriz (i.e. Founder's Reserve)
There are many other good wineries in Chile...do your research.