Three hours south of Santiago lies the Colchagua Valley, a paradise for red wine lovers due to the world class vineyards in the area. Long hot summers and little rain means it has the perfect climate to produce big bold reds bursting with flavour. We spent three weeks volunteering on a small organic vineyard and took the opportunity to visit several nearby operations. With so many to choose from it was impossible to get round them all, but we managed to acquaint ourselves with some of the best. Here’s our top five wineries in the Colchagua Valley – where you’ll find the best red wine in Chile.
1. Viu Manent
Getting picked up in a vintage horse and carriage was always going to take some beating. This family owned vineyard is one of the prettiest in the area and is famed for it’s superb Malbec.
After being whisked around the vines and shown the tranquil storage rooms the tasting begins. These guys don’t muck around and pours are generous to say the least. We tried the Secret range (90% one variety of grapes and 10% secret), the Carmenere and the 2009 Gran Reserve Malbec.
Afterwards we ate in their award winning restaurant, Rayuela set amongst the vines in front of a polo field. If you’re looking for the full Chilean winery experience then this is where to head.
2. Los Vascos
Owned by the Rothschild’s, one of the world’s richest families, you can immediately see no expense is spared here. We booked in a private tour of the grounds and were shown around by Zara in her gleaming 4×4.
They have over 500 hectares of luscious vineyards that roll across the immaculately kept valley.
Their tasting room is the essence of refined and we enjoyed pretending we were posh for a few hours. The Carmenere, Gran Reserve and Rose were delicious and more than enough to ensure we enjoyed the afternoon.
It’s hard to miss Estampa’s futuristic building with it’s catamaran like hulls seemingly bursting from the vines behind.
Inside it’s pretty artsy too with a state of the art building housing some of the best wine making facilities in the valley.
After a short tour we tried the Sauvignon Blanc, Cabinet Sauvignon Reserve and Gold Carmenere, which stood head and shoulders above the others.
While you’re there check out the painted oak barrels, modelled here by our fellow workaway volunteer Jakob – a semi permanent installation that showcases interesting local talent.
One of the more commercial operations in the region, Montgras exports millions of bottles every year. Most end up in the UK with a significant portion going to Denmark and the US.
The polished tour took us through the sprawling vines and into the depths of their production facility. We’d arrived just as harvest was under way so the whole place was buzzing with activity.
The tasting took place in their huge haciendas bright courtyard. Sadly we thought the pours were a bit on the stingy side, but enjoyed the food paring aspect. The Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve tasted amazing with the prune and bacon bites they recommended.
A generous 30% off was applied to any wine we took home so we filled our boots and made an afternoon of it back at our place. We can thoroughly recommend their Carmenere for a long afternoon session in the sun.
This isn’t a vineyard but we drank a lot of good wine here so it’s worth a mention. We spent the afternoon being treated by our lovely workaway hosts Pie and Sharif to an incredible meal.
Starting off with some potent Pisco Sours, we slowly graduated to a few bottles of the famous Coyam Vineyards blended red.
The food was incredible and the service impeccable. The perfect place to have lunch or dinner in the valley while wine tasting.
A Quick Note on Carmenere.
This variety of grape was thought extinct for many years. Originally from Bordeux, France it was planted in Chile when wine production first began. Phylloxera disease wiped it out in France 1867 and it was thought to be a lost variety for many years. Around 1998 tests proved that Chile had the last surviving strain of the grape and it was brought back into commercial production. Today thanks to the perfect climate it flourishes as one of the countries most distinct and most sought after varieties.
So, if you want to try some of the best red wine in Chile, head to Colchagua Valley. It’s got everything a wine lover could wish for. Also check out our other post on volunteering in the region if you want to really experience what it’s like to work on a vineyard.
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