Chilean wines are an enigma. They offer the romance of the old world amidst new world geography. They’re also a major part of our just-launched Grapes, Grit & Stargazing tour. It entails two big days on a bike, but you’ll be rewarded with sweet sips and gourmet stops along the way. Here’s a taste of what awaits.
Pisco: the local brandy
To kickstart our first night in Santiago, a master distiller introduces us to a spirit distilled from fermented grape juice. Clear and colourless, the brandy is an icon of Chile’s – and Peru’s – winemaking regions.
Maipo Valley: the Bordeaux of South America
Chile’s second-oldest wine region is most traditional in what it grows. The French-inspired vineyards have been famous for Cabernet Sauvignon ever since Chile’s second wine boom 150 years ago. The wines are spicy and earthy, with graceful tannins for days. No wonder its called the Bordeaux of South America.
Today, however, Carménère is a big deal. Originally French as well, the grape’s now synonymous with Chile. It’s comparable to Merlot, but a dry growing season gives it luscious spice.
Technically the southern end of the Rapel Valley, Colchagua is long celebrated for ripe and juicy reds. Like Maipo, the region is best known for Cabernet Sauvignon, Carménère and Syrah. However, its Malbecs are also gaining fame, stealing the spotlight from Argentina’s offerings.
So much more to savour
Maipo and Colchagua are both part of the Central Valley, which we discover on our tour next January It’s Chile’s most-renowned wine region, and the closest to Santiago. If you’re a real oenophile, there are four other regions to discover. If you’d like to explore them on a private itinerary, we can help you there as well.
- Atacama is known for table grapes, pisco, and the Spanish pajarete varietal
- The vineyards of Coquimbo stretch from the Pacific Ocean to the Andes Mountains
- Snowmelt from Aconcagua Mountain helps irrigate the valley of the same name
- Southern Chile is all about volume. They’re known for boxed and jugged wine