Tuesday, February 14, 2012

It's all about Chilean wine - Chile (2), updated 04/12

During our first visit to Chile together in early 2010 we visited a couple of vineyards close to Santiago. Our first stop was the Vina Concha y Toro, for those of you familar with Casillero del Diablo this is where it comes from.

The Concha y Toro Vineyard was founded by Don Melchor de Santiago Concha y Toro and his wife, Emiliana Subercaseaux, in 1883. To start the winery, he brought grape varieties from the Bordeaux region in France. The grapes that he brought were: Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Merlot, and Carmenère. The vineyard was incorporated as a stock company in 1923 and shares were sold in the Santiago stock market. Concha y Toro began exporting wine in March 1933 to the port of Rotterdam. In 1950, the winery began to acquire more vineyards and also began the process of adapting its business to new markets and meeting a higher demand. Today it is the largest producer of wine from Latin America.

Legend has it that the original owner of the vineyard was having problems with the local help stealing wine from the cellars. To try and scare them off he spread rumours that the Diablo (Devil) inhabited the cellars, successfully scaring them off. Whilst it was interesting to visit one of Chile's largest and perhaps most well know vineyards, the tour itself was a little disappointing as our guide gave the impression that she was just going through the motions, not really exhibiting any real enthusiasm for her job.

Inside the Casillero del Diablo cellers
Next stop on our short wine tour was Vina Santa RitaSanta Rita was founded in 1880, by a distinguished entrepreneur of those times, Mr. Domingo Fernández Concha in the area of Alto Jahuel where the main installations of the winery are currently located. From the very beginning, he introduced fine French varieties, winemakers and the most advanced winemaking techniques. From the end of the XIX century until the mid 70´s, Santa Rita developed under the ownership of Mr. Vicente García - Huidobro, father of the famous Chilean poet Vicente Huidobro Fernández. In 1980, the Grupo Claro acquired the Santa Rita property, giving a strong impulse to the enterprise in all of its scope, introducing great technological improvements and wine elaboration techniques unknown in Chile at that time. At the end of the 80´s a great expansion period for Santa Rita starts, sustained by the great momentum experienced by its exports and the excellent reputation acquired by its products, which obtained important awards and worldwide recognition.

One of the wines from Santa Rita which you may be familar with is called "Santa Rita 120". According to legend, 120 patriots, exhausted after a long hard battle during the fight for Chile's independence, reached the land belonging to Santa Rita. On that fateful night in 1814, these forces of liberty found refuge in the estate cellars. This wine which you may have enjoyed was crafted to honour their heroic character.
We had a great time visiting both these vineyards, Santa Rita was probably the best but that was down to our guide who really made the tour interesting and seemed to really enjoy her job. As well as being able to enjoy a lovely lunch you can visit their impressive museum of Andean Art

Inside Matetic vineyard
In April 2012 we were back again in Chile and on the advice of English wine expert Olly Smith took the time to visit the Matetic Vineyard in the Rosario Valley. This organically run vineyard was founded in 1999 when the Matetic family decided to diversify their business ventures and enter the world of wine. We enjoyed an informative yet relaxed hour long tour before tasting a couple of their amazing wines.

Matetic vineyards is located in the Rosario Valley, about 120kms from Santiago between Casablanca and San Antonio. This completely enclosed valley, which is 9,000 hectares in length features extraordinary light and possesses the ideal climate and topographic conditions for both red and white wines.

After the tour and tasting we had a delicious lunch in the Matetic restaurant. As well as the restaurant the Vineyard has its own boutique guesthouse in a beautiful setting closeby. From the perspective of a couple who enjoy wine but are far from being knowledgable about wine, this was a great, relaxed experience and a return to Matetic Vineyards is on the cards for us. For more information on this wonderful place check out the Matetic website under Our Favourites, on the side of our Blog homepage. You'll also find the link to Olly Smith's website as well, viewers of BBC1's Saturday Kitchen will be very familar with Olly.

Matetic restaurant
Matetic Guesthouse