Timing is everything (Aconcagua Valley, Chile)

Well after several days in Santiago and surrounds getting lost, stuck in traffic and generally frustrated, I was amazed to actually get to my appointment in the Aconcagua Valley early! The drive out was very nice, and I was glad to get out of the hustle and bustle. The winery in question was Errazuriz, another large winery that focuses on premium wines and in this case exports 95% of their products. They have an illustrious background, being one of the wineries originally established back in the mid-1800s by wealthy industrialists to create Bordeaux style wineries. Whilst the original building was destroyed in the earthquake of 1906, the rebuilt house still exists, and was designed with a bottling line and extended cellar.

When Eduardo Chadwick joined his father as the fifth generation Maximiano to run the winery, Chile was going through great change, and he was well positioned to take advantage. Having observed his fathers methods he quickly learnt the importance of site and variety selection on the quality of wine. Not only did he re-establish the original Errazuriz vineyard to specific trellising and varieties, he established new vineyards in other regions. Eduardo was also one of the first to create super-premium Chilean wines that would capture the wine world’s attention. A true entrepreneur like his ancestors, he founded one of the top importers of wine in the United Kingdom in 1994. He continues to innovate in Chile, learning from the best in the industry both in Chile and overseas.

The tour I received from Pedro (who grew up in Clayton North by the way), was fantastic. A lovely English/Irish couple based in South Africa joined us for a tour through the cellar, vineyards and winery. The winery is one of only a handful of gravity fed wineries in Chile, and is absolutely world-class. No expense was spared in the design of this winery, which is understandable considering their top red wines retail for over $200. The tour finished with a tasting, which gave a great snapshot of the commitment to selecting varieties for regions. Click here to read my notes. The private lunch I had after the tasting made me feel a little colonial, but it was amazing. Although the food was a little out of my budget at USD$44, it was nice to splurge. It was actually pretty good value for four courses plus wine, and the food was fantastic. And how can you not love the location?

It was a nice leisurely drive through the valley until I hit Valparaiso which is a pretty insane place. The way the various coloured houses sit on the hill above the port makes me feel like I am on the Mediterranean, although I have no idea what that’s actually like… yet. Click here to see more photos from the Aconcagua Valley.

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