Chile is a country with 4000 miles of coastline and a lot of great wine!
Whoever visits Chile’s cellars or vineyards, will witness the pride and appreciation Chileans hold for their most prized grape variety: Carménère.
Considering the different story versions I was told, I realised it was during the phylloxera pest that affected Europe, that, in an attempt to save them, some grapes were brought to America. Among them was Carménère which truly blossomed under Chilean weather.
I first tasted Carménère wine at Casas del Bosque, in Casablanca, in a room that is sure to awaken all your senses!
A beautiful space drenched in sunlight overseeing the garden, with a décor based on the flavours and references from the wine itself – from pictures of peppers and blueberries, to jars filled with cinnamon sticks or coffee beans, the room will inspire you to dig deeper into your memories of scent and smell and discover the differences between the wines.
I am very glad I entered Viña Emiliana by mistake, also in Casablanca! This vineyard is entirely devoted to pure and organic wine making using biodynamic agriculture.
Under the premise that the earth provides for all our agricultural needs, here you will find an intricate ecosystem where chickens, alpacas, bees, herbs and, of course, people, live in harmony, each with their own role to play.
And the result is a truly wonderful wine!
They say the Mapuche people, indigenous to Chile, have been producing wine for over 100 years in ‘tinajas’, in a similar fashion to Portuguese ‘vinho da talha’ (wine made using large clay pots without resorting to chemicals).
The country owes the recovery of such a traditional wine making technique to Viña de Martino in the island of Maipo, where the ‘tinajas’ were actually bought from the current Mapuche people, who use them today as decorative items, oblivious to the fact they were used by their ancestors to vinify Chilean grapes. Thus, De Martino stands for truthful wine making without the use of any ‘cover ups’.
A wine trip to Chile would not be complete without a visit to the great Concha y Toro. Known for being the second largest vineyard in the world, Concha y Toro is also one of the most visited estates, thanks to its proximity to Santiago.
In the Old Cellar, dark and damp, I listened to the story of Casillero del Diablo – after a robbery at his cellar, Don Melchor, the first owner and winemaker, started the rumour there was a demon guarding his barrels at night.
A lie, told many times, soon becomes an accepted truth, and from that day on, nobody dared to trespass Don Melchor’s property without his permission. Apparently, the demon still runs free…
The trip ended with the tasting of 7 of the Marques Casa Concha wines, together with a selection of cheeses, jams and breads, wrapping up, in the best way possible, my adventure in the world of Chilean wine!