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May 16, 2009

Colchagua Valley

Filed under: Chile 2009, Travel — anotherheader @ 5:14 pm

The road moving away from the winery at Vina Montes

The road moving away from the winery at Vina Montes

With breakfast at 9:30 am in the room and a cool cross breeze, our day began slowly.  And yes, even at Casa Lapostolle, there was Nescafe.  But, unlike the fine powder that you pour into hot water to produce a bitter

Self portrait from the bathroom of our casita at Casa Lapostolle

Self portrait from the bathroom of our casita at Casa Lapostolle

and flavorless drink, this time the coffee came from a machine that takes sealed, prepackaged cartridges of Nescafe coffee that are loaded gun like into a chamber and produce an espresso-like drink.  The machine is related to this one: Nescafe Single Serving Coffee Machine.  It was not the best coffee we’ve had, but it much exceeded the quality of the instant coffee that we so often were forced to drink in Chile.  With the total comfort and peace of the room, I was reluctant to leave in the morning.  The coffee machine, however, fascinated Becky.  She seemed to be trying to make up for coffee missed on the trip.  After hearing the repeated sounds of coffee cartridges being expelled from the machine’s chamber, I felt it was best to get moving lest I find Becky collapsed in a shaking, quivering mass next to the coffee machine.  I hate that when that happens.

Aging barrel lecture hall at Vina Montes

Aging barrel lecture hall at Vina Montes

Our plan for the day was to tour the wineries, or at least a couple of the wineries.  Wine tasting in Chile is different than it is in the States.  Generally, you can’t expect to drive up to the winery and taste wine.  You need to have reservations.  With help from Casa Lapostolle, we booked a visit and the required tours to two wineries—Vina Montes and Viu Mament.  Both of these wineries are large industrial concerns producing high hundreds of thousands of cases per year.  Small boutique wineries are relatively rare in Chile.

The infinity pool and guest house at Casa Lapostolle

The infinity pool and guest house at Casa Lapostolle

With uncertain navigation, we rolled the short distance down the road to Vina Montes’ large winery arriving just after our appointment time.  The guide and a couple from Brazil were waiting and we departed on the tour as soon as we arrived.

The tour started with a tractor pulled passenger trailer visit to the vineyards that let us pay homage to the vines that produced our favorite Montes’ wines.  Back at the winery, we moved through the stages of the wine making process.  The Montes’ winery is large, modern, and impressive.  The scale makes it seem more like a chemical plant than a winery.  Nevertheless, the quality of the mid-range wines we tasted was impressive.  I believe that tasting Montes’ premium wines is also possible, though we didn’t arrange this upfront so we missed the chance.

Our carriage for the tour of the vineyards at Viu Mament

Our carriage for the tour of the vineyards at Viu Mament

After Vina Montes, we headed to Viu Mament on the recommendation of our host at Casa Lapostolle.  Viu Mament is one of the most popular stops in the Colchagua Valley in part for its tour but also for its restaurant.  Lunch on the large covered patio facing the courtyard was both satisfying and comfortable.  At the table next to us sat the Brazilan couple from Vina Montes apparently taking the same route as us through the wineries.  Viu Mament followed the same general tour protocol as Vina Montes.  We again started the visit with a trip through the vineyards, this time in a horse drawn cart.  We finished with a wine tasting with a group from Long Island, New York.

Tasting the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc at Viu Mament

Tasting the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc at Viu Mament

Our guide at the tasting pronounced the Rhone white grape varietal viognier as “vee-ohn-yair” with his Chilean accent coming through.  Curiously, all the Long Islanders pronounced viognier as “vee-ohn-yair” also.

“Isn’t it pronounced ‘vee-yoh-N’YAY’?” I asked the Long Islanders.  They all shook their heads no.

“It’s ‘vee-ohn-yair’,” one of the Long Islanders affirmed ardently.

“En France,” the Long Islander’s tour organizer added.  The organizer had assured us that he had traveled the wine regions of the world extensively and that it is the way viognier is pronounced in France.

I guess we will have to travel a lot more to find where exactly in France viognier is pronounced “vee-ohn-yair.”  We may never find the place, but it could be fun trying.  We might look for the place where merlot is pronounced “mer-LAT” at the same time.

Back at the casita, we had a relaxing afternoon with a little mountain bike riding through the vineyards.  For dinner, we accepted our host’s suggestion of a Peruvian restaurant, La Casita de Barreales (phone: 9 818 10 28), in Santa Cruz for dinner.  The BeckBeck system downloaded the driving instructions from our host.

Barrel room at Viu Mament

Barrel room at Viu Mament

“You can’t miss it,” said the host as she finished the instructions clearly unaware of the beta test version of the BeckBeck system that we were using.

On the road, we quickly made it the short distance to Santa Cruz.  It looked, for a moment, like the BeckBeck system couldn’t miss the restaurant and we would get there directly.  Then we turned the wrong way on a one-way street.  In the BeckBeck system’s defense, the road was poorly labeled as one-way, if it was labeled at all.  We never saw a sign, but the oncoming cars emphatically let us know that we were going the wrong way.  Never ones to buck the trend, we reversed our course and did what seemed to be a grid search until we located the restaurant.  When we entered the restaurants parking lot, we realized that now, we couldn’t miss it.

The ribs of the Clos Apalta Winery

The ribs of the Clos Apalta Winery

After all the efforts to get there, the restaurant was excellent.  The menu featured many variations of ceviche, Pisco Sours made in the Peruvian fashion, and other Peruvian favorites.  All of it was excellent.  We just wish the restaurant were a little closer to our house at home.

Water tank at Viu Mament

Water tank at Viu Mament

Retracing our route took us back to the quiet solitude of the casita.  Tomorrow we would leave the peace of Casa Lapostolle and head back north on our last full day in Chile.  Neither the thought of leaving our casita or ending our trip to Chile were happy thoughts.

Pictures:

http://picasaweb.google.com/AnotherHeader/ColchaguaValley#

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2 Comments »

  1. It’s MerLOTT. And it’s my Okie pah that has the inside scoop on that. Send me a bottle of that vio, vig, veh, Ah heck I can’t even type the word. Send me a bottle and I’ll have him swirl it around ye ole oak and ivory mouth piece and he’ll be guaranteed to yield a dutify pronouciationalismed.

    Comment by surlypeach — May 17, 2009 @ 11:48 pm

  2. […] Barossa Valley in Australia, the Rioja in Spain, Montalcino in Italy, the Alscace in France, or the Colchagua Valley in Chile, familiarity with the names and curiosity about the origins of the bottle of wine sitting […]

    Pingback by France: Tain L’Hermitage and Vienne « Another Header — November 15, 2012 @ 2:31 am


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