In driving through Chilean Wine Country we passed through various estates and villages, always surrounded by the vineyards and mountains. Heading from Nancagua, we took a stop at Bodega Viu Manent, which had a wonderful restaurant before the earthquake I was told, but it’s roof collapsed and was being rebuilt. We talked to a couple of the employees who seemed to know my friend Nicole, and they recommended that I buy a bottle of their Secreto Caremenere. Caremenere is a special grape that originally came from France and was brought to Chile. After a disease wiped out the grape in France, it was sort of forgotten in Chile, and people labeled it as another variety until realizing what it was.
Now it’s basically the only place in the world where it’s grown with success, and Chile is able to boast this as a claim to fame while Argentina touts the Malbec grape as their cash cow. I didn’t buy a bottle at the winery because I wasn’t sure if I’d get it through customs, but I did eventually buy this bottle at Duty Free shopping. At the very least, it will make a nice addition to my wine tasting series.
We headed off to the Apalta region, with vineyards at the base of hills with a deep green. We didn’t stop at Clos Apalta, but went for a quick look around Viña Montes, where several tourists were beginning a tour. Throughout the time in Wine Country, we didn’t actually do any wine tasting. Kind of weird, right? But there was really no need as my friend Nicole put it, because why should we pay for just a small glass when they already know what the best wines are? Instead, we can just buy whole bottles and enjoy it comfortably at home. Of course, that logic will only work if you’re a local and a seasoned wine drinker.
We took a walk through the town of Santa Cruz, where a laid back feel was mixed in with tourism driven by wine and luxury accommodations at Hotel Santa Cruz, where I found some delicious manjar (like dulce de leche, aka caramel but better) with different flavors. A quick nap upon returning to the house and another glass of wine, and soon we were headed back to Santiago as darkness fell over the peaks of the Andes. The time spent in the Colchagua Valley was slow paced and relaxing, and exactly what I needed. There’s nothing that I would change about the trip there.