Close Menu

Chile and Argentina in pictures

Last week I was lucky enough to be invited to spend a week in Chile and Argentina exploring the wines in Santa Rita’s portfolio, including Casa Real, Triple C and Bougainville. The journey began with an overnight stay at Santa Rita’s Casa Real hotel, a former summer house owned by Diego Fernandez Concha boasting Italian-inspired landscaped and, allegedly, a ghost.

Casa Real is also home to a stunning turquoise and gold neo-Gothic chapel where we enjoyed a summer concert of Chopin and Puccini el al.

En route to the Carmen estate we stopped off in Chile’s capital city, Santiago, for a whistlestop tour.

Arriving at Carmen, we were shown around by chief winemaker, Sebastian Labbé, who spoke passionately about the need for Chile’s big producers to innovate and make the kind of wines consumers are asking for. Among the quirkier wines Labbé is working on at Carmen at the moment is an old vine Semillon/Sauvignon blend made in an oxidised style and an unfiltered, wild ferment Muscat.

Carmen’s palm-filled lawn

Later that day we were given a tour of Santa Rita’s Maipo vineyards with the company’s head of winemaking and vititiculture Eduardo Alemparte.

Santa Rita has recently replanted a vast amount of its Maipo estate

Soon we had hopped over the Andes to Argentina, where the skies were grey but the mood was sunny among Doña Paula’s team. Chief winemaker Marcos Fernandez (left) and agronomist engineer Martin Kaiser were on hand to show us around of show off what makes their terroir special.

During the trip I was joined by fellow wine scribes Douglas Blyde (left) and Irish wine writer Leslie Williams.

After a tour of Gualtallary, Tupungato and the Uco Valley, we headed to top chef Francis Mallmann’s Siete Fuegos restaurant for an abundant asado,

While appearing like a torture device, we were assured that this was in fact where the magic happens to create Mallmann’s meat feasts.

The next day the Andes put on a magnificent display for us

Doña Paula’s El Alto vineyard in Lujan de Cuyo is cradled by a beautiful lake, which served as possibly the prettiest setting ever for a wine tasting.

Showing us around and leading us through a tutored tasting were Doña Paula’s brand manager Lucía Mallea and agronomist Martin Kaiser.

Post tasting it was time for lunch and Argentina’s unmissable empanadas, of which we devoured an indecent number.

… and then came the steaks!

Lounging in the sun was this adorable pooch, who seemed too lazy to bother snuffling up our scraps

This little guy showed more interest though…

We’d love any twitchers out there to identify this bird of prey we snapped among the vines.

Having started with a fleet, the El Alto vineyard is now home to just two ducks, who seem happy to be ruling the roost.

Back in Chile, our next stop was to Santa Rita’s expansive Pumanque site, planted in 2005, which served as a perfect picnic spot.

During the visit we dined beside the vines on ceviche, steak and chocolate cake.

Then it was time to get down and dirty with viticultural manager Gerardo Leal (left) and winemaker Mario Oliva, who talked us through Pumanque’s terracotta-coloured terroir.

Wine writers Leslie Williams (left) and Douglas Blyde enjoy a tasting of Santa Rita Reserva Syrah and Carmenère.

and finally… the last leg of the trip took us to Matanzas by the Pacific Ocean, where we tasted through Santa Rita’s wines made close to the sea in Leyda and Casablanca. Everyone seemed keen to make the most of the final rays of sunshine on the beach, including this canny canine.

It looks like you're in Asia, would you like to be redirected to the Drinks Business Asia edition?

Yes, take me to the Asia edition No