Almost every wine lover has made the pilgrimage to Napa and Sonoma, Burgundy, or even Tuscany, but there’s another hemisphere that’s waiting to be explored by oenophiles seeking a bit of adventure. There are amazing wineries in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, but we’d like to share some of our favorites in Latin America, especially those in Chile and Argentina. While we were researching our book Wines Of The Southern Hemisphere, we spent six months in these two countries alone, traveling north to south and east to west. Here’s what you need to know before you go.
You’re never more than a two hours drive from the ocean when you’re in Chile. A 2700 mile long by 110 mile wide ribbon of land wedged between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountains, Chile’s winemaking history dates back to the first Spanish Conquistadors who arrived in the early 1500s. The original variety is Pais aka Mission grape that was fermented into Sacramental wine for the Catholic Mass. Today winemakers are using traditional European varieties including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Carmenere, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot to name just a few.
Worth a stop just to visit the beautiful park surrounding the winery, Cousiño Macul is one of the only wineries within Santiago’s city limits. The current chairman, Carlos Cousiño, the sixth generation descendent of the original founder, told us that his is the only remaining 19th Century Chilean winery still owned and operated by its original founding family. Call to schedule an intensive tasting of their fine wines. Some of our favorites include Cousiño Macul Finis Terrae and Cousiño Macul Antiguas Reservas Chardonnay.
One of Chile’s younger wineries, Montes was founded in 1987 by Aurelio Montes and Douglas Murry. The visitor experience includes a fun tour of the vineyard and the winery. There’s a choice of tastings to please everyone’s palate and make sure to carve out some time in your schedule to stay for lunch…you won’t be disappointed.
Founded in 1883 by Don Melchor Concha y Toro, Concha y Toro is one of Chile’s largest wineries. It’s located in nearby Pirque, a short drive from Santiago, but if you have limited time and are staying in the city, you can visit Concha y Toro’s tasting lounge in the Alonso de Cordova shopping area. When you do visit the winery be sure to ask to see the Casillero del Diablo cellar, where Don Melchor kept his best wines. Legend has it that he effectively stopped his employees from stealing by telling them that he saw the Devil hiding among the barrels. Don’t forget to taste the Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon and Concha y Toro’s flagship wine, Don Melchor.
Next, we travel to Argentina...