In recent years, wine has increasingly become a global game.
Iconic wine locations like France, Italy and even California still maintain
their stature, but the world is finding out just how many different places
produce outstanding wines. The South American contingent has come on strong,
and Chile’s wine regions are opening their arms to
visitors who want to sip, sample and explore the country’s rugged beauty.
Almost any trip to Chile should start in Santiago, the
capital, where you can get your feet wet, so to speak. Against the backdrop of
spectacular mountains that hem the city in, you’ll find a strong culinary scene
that capitalizes on the natural attributes of the country. Its long, long
coastline, fertile soil and temperate valleys are the source of the fish, meat,
produce and wines that drive local chefs’ creativity.
Luckily for impatient travelers, you don’t need to go too
far outside of Santiago to start a world-class wine trail journey. The city
itself is in the Maipo Valley, which is home to three of Chile’s oldest
wineries and a center of cabernet sauvignon production. Within an hour, you can
be touring local vineyards and wineries. Other varieties produced here include
syrah and carmenères.
ShutterstockThe slender Aconcagua Valley, about an hour
and a half north of Santiago, is spectacularly beautiful, thanks to its
snow-capped mountains. In fact, the highest mountain in the Americas, Mt.
Aconcagua (22,828 feet) stands here, and the water it provides to the
valleys below is key for the modestly-sized producers in the area. It has
predominantly been a red region in the past, with its cabernet sauvignons and
syrahs stealing the show, but whites like sauvignon blanc are making inroads in
production and are definitely worth sampling. The region is also home to La
Campana National Park and the Termas de Jahuel hot springs, so you can enjoy
the great outdoors between tastings.
The seaside city of Valparaiso should also be on every
Chilean itinerary. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site, thanks to its history as
a seaport and a hub of cross-cultural exchange, and it’s also renowned for its
artistic side (Pablo Neruda had a home in Valparaiso). Use it as a second urban
base for sampling forward-thinking cuisine and setting out into surrounding
The San Antonio Valley is only about 50 minutes from
Valparaiso and about 12 miles from the Pacific, and its location is a big
factor in the wine varietals that local growers so capably raise here.
who love a lively and memorable bottle of white wine are well-advised to make a
stop in the region, which is home to extraordinary sauvignon blancs and
chardonnays. But that’s not all that’s on offer; the valley is also the cradle
of cold-climate syrahs in Chile, and the spicy character of its red wines is
increasingly sought after.
If you are interested in wine
from other parts of the world, read about South Africa's Western Cape Winelands.
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