Trying Carménère in the Colchagua and Maule valleys
20.01.2019 - 23.01.2019
After Valparaíso, we decided to rent a car for two months. The plan was to drive south on the Chilean side of the Andes as far as possible and return up again on the Argentinean side. Ideally, we’ll make it all the way to Tierra del Fuego. Our first stop on the way south from Santiago was the main wine producing region of Chile.
We already came to like Chilean wine in the short time we’ve been in the country. The signature grape of Chile is Carménère. This variety is originally from Europe, but somehow became extinct there. The wines from Carménère are usually quite light and very easy to drink. The best thing about wine in Chile is that you can buy really good bottles for less than 5 dollars in a supermarket.
Our first stop south of Santiago was in the Colchagua valley. We stayed for one night at a boutique vineyard surrounded by a beautiful mountain scenery. We had a fantastic Cabernet with dinner there and learned that the best wines are never sold in Chile, but exported, for example, to Europe, where they can make a lot more money.
Next we spent two nights in Talca in the Maule valley, where a lot of Chilean wines sold abroad are coming from. Many wineries in Chile offer wine tastings or tours of their vineyards, but in most cases a car is needed to reach these places. This creates a bit of a dilemma, as there is a zero-tolerance policy for drinking and driving in Chile. Even after a small glass of wine, it would be illegal to sit behind the wheel of a car. With a combination of public buses and Uber, we managed to visit two wineries and drink there as well. The portions at the wine tastings were very generous. At the second vineyard, our friendly tour guide kept pouring us more and more wine while we were talking and we ended up a bit tipsy. In the end, we bought four bottles of wine that day which we enjoyed over the next days of our road trip.