Chile: the devil's cellar and other stories
Another day of visits began with Concha y Toro, Chile's biggest producer. It started off badly: we were given the standard tour, aimed at consumers who didn't know a great deal of wine. There was a film, a look at the parklands and old house, and a visit to a tasting station in the courtyard where we were poured a 2005 Sauvignon Blanc. Someone realized this wasn't right, so we were moved to the vineyard, where our valiant tour guide began explaining that this was one of the world's top 25 vineyards for Cabernet Sauvignon, and that by using a special irrigation program the quality was enhanced. When someone asked about this irrigation program, they were told it was a secret. Then we visited the barrel cellar where the difference between French and American oak was explained, among other gems. Best of all was the Casillero del Diablo: the story goes that the locals were nipping into the cellar to pinch Don Melchor's best bottles. So he told them that the devil lived in the cellar, they believed it, and Don Melchor's wine was safe.
Anyway, the visit was saved by the tasting, hosted by Max, one of the winemakers, who is officially alright in my book because he had a copy of my wine science book. The wines are of consistently good quality, with the new Maycas del Limari wines being the highlight: these are brilliant.
We finished at Concha and headed back into the city to visit Santa Carolina, a producer that has seen a bit of a shake-up over the last few years. Their headquarters, with its historic buildings and cellars (pitured) used to be in the middle of a vineyard, but being so close to the city centre, the vines have long since been buried in new developments. We lunched there after an extensive tasting of the Santa Carolina and Vina Casablanca wines. Final stop of the day was Anakena in Cachapoal, a winery who we'd awarded two trophies to at the WOC awards. Their wines are modern, quite sleek, and have some personality.
For John Hoskins and I, this is our last night in Chile. Tomorrow we visit Odjfell and Undarraga, before catching our flight. It's been a very interesting trip, but while I'm not looking forward to London weather, it will be good to be home.