Day-coloured wine, night-coloured wine,
wine with purple feet or wine with topaz blood,
wine, starry child of earth,
wine, smooth as a golden sword, soft as lascivious velvet,
wine, spiral-seashelled and full of wonder, amorous, marine;
never has one goblet contained you, one song, one person,
you are choral, gregarious,
at the least, you must be shared.
Chilean poet Pablo Neruda’s ‘Ode to Wine’ praises fine wine as a beautiful, changing, living thing. It also speaks for its richness and sensuality, its textures and its effects in the human body and mind. In this way, Chilean wines convey the soul of its fertile, temperate valleys nestled between the foothills of the snow-capped Andes and the deep-blue Pacific.
Like the Chilean people, their wine valleys also have a robust stylistic point of view; Aconcagua – for more mature and fuller-bodied wines, Casablanca – for its crisp, coastal whites, Maipo – for the ‘Bordeaux of South America’. Characteristic of Chilean culture and identity, each valley is supported by exceptional craftsmanship, emotional investment and a deep connection to their beloved land.
Time n’ wine rhyme for a good reason. So, if you love bottled poetry, then you’ll love Chile. Be it a bright stoney Chardonnay, an intensely expressive Sauvignon Blanc, a crowd-pleasing Cabernet Sauvignon, or an everyday sipping Merlot. Or maybe the lost Carménère, a peppery Cabernet Franc, an aromatic Petit Verdot, a lofty Malbec, a bold Syrah, or an age-worthy Tempranillo; there is a Chilean wine for you.
Today your guide will take you on a tour of Santiago’s most important historical sites, including the downtown area surrounding the Plaza de Armas and La Moneda Presidential Palace. You will also pass by the Mercado Central, one of Chile’s largest fresh seafood markets and stroll by the many bustling stalls to see the tremendous variety available from Chile’s bountiful sea. You will visit some of the lesser-known barrios of Santiago including Republica and Concha y Toro, which were historically privileged neighbourhoods and home to Santiago’s colonial high society. There will be time to walk around and take photos of the varied styles of architecture dating back to the 19th and early 20th century. Continuing through the cobblestone Lastarria neighbourhood, you will walk through the Parque Forestal and pass by the Bellas Artes Museum. For a panoramic vista of the city, you will visit the top of Cerro San Cristobal Hill. At the end of your tour, you will enjoy a welcome dinner.
Your guide will meet you at your Santiago hotel this morning to depart to the famed Aconcagua Valley. In the shadow of Mt. Aconcagua, the valley is Chile’s smallest, but very well known as “a viticulturist paradise” for its natural balance of wind, heat and soil diversity. Aconcagua has produced many fine wines, including Von Siebenthal’s Tatay de Cristobal 2007 which scored 97 points. Several 95- and 96-point wines are also the pride of Aconcagua.
Your first stop will be Errázuriz Winery, one of the most iconic wineries in Chile and has played a crucial role in developing the country’s wine industry. One of the most game-changing moments occurred at The Berlin Tasting in 2004, where three of Errázuriz’ best wines beat some of the most prestigious French and Italian names in a blind taste test, solidifying Chilean wine’s place on the international stage. Famous labels include Viñedo Chadwick, Seña, and Don Maximiano Founder’s Reserve. Afterwards, return to your hotel in Santiago.
After breakfast, you will take a trip to the central coast. Approximately 90 minutes west, you will pass through the lush agricultural valley of Curacaví and the renowned Casablanca Wine Valley, renowned for innovative wineries that are producing Chile’s top white wines and cool-climate reds. Your first stop is Valparaíso, declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2003 for its architectural and cultural significance. You will start in the downtown sector, learning about the history of “Valpo” and its importance in South American trade and commerce. Century-old hillside elevators will transport you up into the city’s steep hills, where a labyrinthine maze of streets reveals brightly coloured buildings, bohemian cafes and spectacular views of the harbour below. Your tour will lead you on foot through two of the most famous and eclectic neighbourhoods, Cerro Concepción and Cerro Alegre. In addition, you will visit one of Pablo Neruda’s three homes-turned-museums, La Sebastiana. Your lunch in Valparaíso will be at one of the city’s top restaurants nestled in the hills. With a privileged vista of the bay and a varied menu paired with a fresh pisco sour or a glass of excellent wine, what could be better?
After lunch, continue towards Matetic Winery. A state-of-the-art winemaking facility, Matetic is designed to complement its beautiful natural surroundings. The winery incorporates organic agricultural practices and design that optimizes vinification. Grapes are handpicked and carefully examined to ensure only those of the highest quality are used in the winemaking process. In 2015, Wine & Spirits called its 2014 EQ Coastal Sauvignon Blanc, a wine in “surround sound, powered with pear scents, candied lemon and fresh herbs. In that same year, Wine Spectator rated three of their 2012 wines, a Chardonnay and two Syrahs at 90 points or above. A colonial, country home-turned-hotel with manicured lawns and a pool called La Casona make staying overnight here a pleasure. After your adventure-filled-day, you will return to your hotel in Santiago for the evening.
Your guide will meet you in the lobby of your hotel this morning, and you will set off two hours south on the Pan-American Highway, to the Colchagua Wine Valley. This area has long been celebrated for its ripe and juicy red wines. Cabernet Sauvignon continues to hold the lead, although these days Syrah and Carménère routinely steal the show, along with relatively small quantities of excellent Chilean Malbec. This is a recent innovation, as this wine is traditionally considered the national wine in neighbouring Argentina. Your first stop will be Montes for a tour and tasting. Montes has been a big player in Chilean wine since shortly after opening in 1988. It is still locally owned, though widely distributed, and extreme care is taken in every detail. They have incorporated feng shui components of water, metal and wood in their architecture, right through the wine production. They pick only completely mature fruit, discard entire bunches if a few grapes are found to be faulty. Their dry-farmed, sustainable 2012 Syrah won one of Wine Spectators top 100 wines of 2015.
Next, you’ll make your way to Viu Manent to enjoy a delicious lunch at this family-run vineyard. Founded in 1935, Viu Manent has been making wine for more than 80 years. Their core philosophy is centred in attention to detail, respect for the environment, and finding the balance between honouring history and tradition, and embracing innovation and modernity as they lead to excellence in their wines. Viu Manent wines have won several awards. After your time spent at Viu Manent, you will be driven to Santa Cruz where you will visit the Colchagua Museum. Once you’ve finished visiting the museum we’ll make our way back to your hotel in Santiago.
Your guide will meet you at your Santiago hotel to take you towards the Maipo Wine Valley, starting with Perez Cruz winery. The first thing visitors notice about this family-owned winery is the swooping wooden architecture of the 3-million litre capacity bodega. The structure was designed by the local architect José Cruz Ovalle and uses an open structure to promote good air circulation in this breezy part of the valley, to keep ideal winemaking temperatures. Pérez Cruz has a large estate of 140 hectares of vines, with Cabernet Sauvignon, Carménère, Merlot, Syrah, Malbec and Petit Verdot, and they produce and barrel their award-winning wines onsite.
After this you will continue further into the Maipo Valley eventually ending up at Santa Rita winery. Founded in 1880, Santa Rita is one of the Maipo Valley’s oldest wineries and one of the most popular Chilean wineries in the international market. In 2014, Santa Rita’s Medalla Real was voted the 4th best Cabernet Sauvignon in the world by UK publication The Drink Business. An onsite historical museum features many Mapuche artefacts, and is another highlight of the winery visit, which can also include a stroll through the vineyards and property; filled with many old trees and a stately mansion which has views over a lagoon. Here you will enjoy a tour and tasting and a delicious lunch. Return to your hotel in Santiago.
Today you will return to Maipo Wine Valley and will enjoy two more wineries from this special valley. Your first stop will be the intriguing small boutique winery, Aquitania. Located just outside the capital city of Santiago, Aquitania was born from a partnership among four well-respected French and French-Chilean agronomists. The idea was to combine the best of French viticultural practices with the agricultural paradise of Chile to create unique, elegant wines. Their 18 hectares of high Maipo Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah benefits from poor, rocky soils that enable deep rooting.
Next, you’ll visit the Haras de Pirque Winery. For lovers of architecture, horses and fine wine, Haras de Pirque is a perfect stop on a wine route in the Maipo Valley. The winery is owned by the Antinori family, which traces its involvement in wine back 26 generations, and manages 1,700 hectares all over the world. They make several wines spanning Cabernet Sauvignon, Carménère, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah and Cabernet Franc. While the wines are 100% Chilean, like many wines from this valley, they are often called the “Bordeaux of South America,” and are considered to have elegant tannins. The winery is horseshoe-shaped, which is fitting since they also raise thoroughbred horses and have a 1,500-meter racetrack. You’ll enjoy a tour and tasting of two wines as well as a bottle of Elegance.
For lunch, you will enjoy typical Chilean dishes at the Fundación Origen restaurant, nestled within the traditional wine region of Pirque. Afterwards, you’ll return to your hotel to freshen up. Shortly after your private transportation will pick you up and take you to one of Santiago’s restaurants to have a farewell dinner. Return to your hotel for your last evening in Santiago.
After spending the past days getting to know Chile’s wine country, your driver will pick you up from your Hotel in time to make your international flight.