Searching for a cultured and relaxing way to visit a country, a wine tour is an excellent option. Unfortunately, few places in the world offer growing conditions suitable to sustain a wine industry extensive enough that you can tour.
With the exception of Chile, that is.
The 5th largest exporter of wine in the world, one of the best ways to get to know the country is through its wineries. Oh, and did I mention that Chilean wines cleaned up at the 2009 Decanter World Wine Awards with some 370 prizes? Judges were quoted describing Chilean wines as “some of the finest Sauvignon, Riesling, Pinot Noir and Cabernet blends in the world.” For once, it seems quality and quantity can co-exist. And if you’re a potential wine tourist, that puts Chile very firmly on your map. So where should you visit? You are at liberty to ‘drop in’ at the winery of your favourite label, but if you are looking for suggestions, try the following.
The Colchagua Valley
Possibly Chile’s most famous wine region, Colchagua Valley enjoys a balmy, Mediterranean climate matched in only a few other places on earth and the air is clear and clean. Feeding the vines, the deep sedimentary soil of the Colchagua Valley contains a mixture of fine-textured loam clay and loam silt, bordered by medium-textured volcanic soil in the foothills. The 14,038-foot Tinguiririca Volcano melt water feeds the Tinguiririca River, carrying pure water to the valley below. These conditions combine to provide a long, warm and dry growing season that produce very, very good wines.
One of the many options is a visit to the Viña Casa Silva winery, famous for its award-winning Carmenere wines. You’ll get a chance to see their unique approach to the art of wine making; all wines must be approved unanimously by a tasting panel of 5 members before any product is sent into the global wine community, including the Company’s president, his two sons and the two leading members of the Vineyard’s enological committee (wine technicians).
The Curico Valley
A good base from which to explore the fruits of the Valley is the city of Curicó. Despite destruction by an earthquake in 1928, is considered one of Chile´s most cultured and provincial towns, perfect for any discerning wine-hunter. A short distance outside of the city is Alta Cima – a family-run winery that produces some of the region´s greatest fine wine. With decades of experience in wine-making, importing and exporting, you’ll get to see the result of years’ work meticulously refining quality.
The Casablanca Valley
A relatively cool and largely coastal region, Casablanca is known for producing classy Chardonnay and world class Sauvignon Blanc. It is also being planted with Pinot Noir in an attempt to exploit its cool climate conditions with one of the hottest grape varieties amongst knowledgeable wine consumers.
To get a sneaky behind-the-scenes peek at the some of the top wines coming out of Chile, do what you can to pay a visit to the vines of Casa Lapostolle, or sample the work of winemaker Ignacio Recabarren at the Casablanca vineyards.
The Chilean wine scene unfolds over 5 principal regions, all of which contain a selection of valleys with enviable growing conditions. With the assistance of a tour company, you can pick and choose visits to your favourite spots, and link them all together as you like; flying, horseback riding, bicycle…it’s your Chilean wine vacation, so its your decision.
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