Chile & Argentina wine trips


Mar 7th, 2008, 01:07 PM
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Chile & Argentina wine trips

Hey! I'm the editor of the upcoming Fodor's guide to Chile, published next August---I visited this past September and had a great time. I learned quite a bit while I was there; some of my tips are here:

One of my favorite stops during the trip was Matetic, in San Antonio/Casablanca on the way to the coast. I also liked Haras de Pirque, a combination racing horse stable and winery run by the Antinori family. Has anyone visited any of these? Or do you have another favorite? I was surprised at how many choices there are, and how different each one was.

My biggest recommendation to anyone visiting Chilean wine country is to realize that while you can do your own transportation, you'll have a much better experience with a guide. Would you agree? Or do you have another tip for first time travelers?

I want to visit Argentina's wine country next---has anyone ventured to both? I'm curious as to which I'll like better.
AdamT is offline  
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Mar 7th, 2008, 03:02 PM
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hi adam,
it's been 8 years since i've been to chile but i did enjoy my tour of concha y toro. we had a private guide that apparently, the folks at winery knew, so he took us to areas inside that the bigger tours didn't go. that was fun! so yes, i would go with a guide for that reason alone.
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Mar 8th, 2008, 05:09 AM
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I read your article with great interest. The wine growing regions have expanded so much in the last few years (valley of Limarí as an example) that it is difficult to keep track of them all.
I still think the older vineyards are worth a visit: Concha y Toro and Cousiño Macul for their proximity to the city and Santa Rita for true terroir plus histoire. It is expensive to stay there but worth it if you can afford it.
I was looking at the link you provided and saw the bicycle tours. These are quite popular here with locals. In fact, the Pablo who organises the bike tours mentioned is someone I know and have done day rides with. He is highly recommendable. We visited a small vineyard with him on a day trip to the Los Andes area, San Esteban. This is an older vineyard and all their wine is exported, but you can purchase it at their place. Lunch in the nearby Termas El Corazon (thermal pools and excellent lunch) would make a lovely day out.
I agree that to get the most out of visiting more than one vineyard it is good to get someone to organise it for you.
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Mar 9th, 2008, 05:41 AM
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Hi, AdamT!

If you know Spanish (as you should, as a Latam editor), this may be of interest to you:

Even though I'm a frequent poster in this forum, I cannot help you any more, because I don't drink and have never been to our Mendoza wine country.
avrooster is offline  
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Mar 9th, 2008, 05:54 AM
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Hey Adam!
I have a friend who works in the winery business in Oregon, she was in Buenos Aires/winery country this past year on business.
I will see if I can get her to post about it here on Fodors ~

In the meantime, you should come see for yourself
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Mar 9th, 2008, 07:06 AM
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I hope you will consider the Salta region and not just Mendoza when you visit Argentine wine country.

In addition to being just a phenomenal place to visit in its own right, it is growing in its renown for its wines.

We stayed at Estancia Colome, which is the oldest working vineyard in Argentina, and is now part of the Hess Group. It was fantastic.

(I haven't been to Chile or Mendoza, so can't compare them)
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Mar 9th, 2008, 08:48 AM
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I would agree that there is more to Chilean wine than the Casablanca and Colchagua valleys. The Maule region, Limarí and Maipo valleys are also well worth exploring. Argentine wines are more than just Mendoza as mentioned. There are some very interesting wines coming out of the Salta region.
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Mar 9th, 2008, 12:39 PM
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Hi All!

I am the friend Scarlett was refering to.

In March of 2007, I visited Argentina and Chile. I was there on business visiting many of the wineries I represent in Oregon.

We flew into Buenos Aries on a Saturday morning. We only had one day there, so the three of us from Oregon made the most of out time and saw everything we possibly could. Our flight landed at 7AM and we staryed awake, and exploring, until 2AM on Sunday. We stayed at the Sofitel Puerto Madero. We also were treated to dinner and the show at Rojo Tango. We were joined by staff from Toso, Norton, Kaiken and Achaval Ferer.

On Sunday morning we went to the local airport and took the two hour flight to Mendoza. We stayed at the Park Hyatt. Sunday afternoon, we were taken to Achaval Ferer. Fabulous Malbecs from single vineyard sites. I would love to have been able to sneak a bunch of the Altimira into my luggage as we get so little of it here.

That evening we had a wonderful dinner prepared by Francis Malmann. We were joined by staff members from Achaval Ferer, Kaiken, Montes, Norton and Toso.

On Monday, we visited Kaiken winery in the morning and enjoyed a fabulous gourmet lunch there. Kaiken is owned by Chile's Vina Montes.

After a bit of down time at the hotel, we headed to Bodegas Norton for a tour, tasting and dinner followed by fireworks in the vineyard at midnight.

On Tuesday, we headed to Pascual Toso. It was a longer drive (about 90-120 minutes from our hotel) than the other wineries.

The rain had moved in, so our canyon lunch was moved inside. You would never know that there was a glitch in the weather.

We then headed to the airport for our flight to Santiago.

The flight from Mendoza to Santiago takes one hour and when you land, you have arrived at the same time that you left Argentina. LOL!

We were taken to our hotel, the Sheraton, to check in and then head out to dinner with members from Montes and Santa Ema wineries.

On Wednesday morning, we checked out of the hotel and headed out for the two hour drive to Santa Ema...I am a little confused on my directions here as my itinerary was changed....I believe that our first Santa Ema visit was the Rosario location. It could be El Peral....rats, I can't remember. The facility is gorgeous! A very modern building. We spent about 90 minutes here and then boarded our bus (which was very nice and cushy, I might add) for Santa Ema's other vineyard site. Here, we had a formal tasting under the walnut grove. We then enjoyed Pisco Sours and empanada from the empanada oven and then a great lunch.

We were then given the choice of riding horses or being driven out into the vineyard. I chose to ride in a car. I am glad that I did as those horses were, well, let's just say, if you were not an expert rider you were doomed.

Late in the afternoon, we left there to head to Santa Cruz where we checked in to the Hotel Santa Cruz and enjoyed dinner there.

The next morning, we headed out to Montes and their Marchigue vineyard. Douglas Murray, one of the five partners, took us on a tour of the vineyard in a horse drawn wagon. Fun to see a sea of Syrah with cactus popping up from time to time.

Montes also put on a rodeo for us. It was great. Four riders, including the National Side Saddle Champion. There were also dancers who did the national dance, after which the horses did the dance.

We enjoyed a great lunch under a grove of trees next to their man-made lake. They had flown in a chef from Patagonia for our group. Seafood, seafood, seafood! Yes! We enjoyed the lunch along with Montes Cherb (as rose of Syrah.)

Around 4PM, he headed of to Montes Apalta vineyard, where the showplace winery is. We were taken up to the top of the vineyard to see the view...then we walked down a ways (not easy as the hillside is very steep) where we ate fresh figs from the tree and attempted to avoid being spit on by llamas.

We toured the winery and then went in to the gorgeous conference room. It has floor to ceiling - wall to wall windows overlooking the vineyard. There, before us, 12 glasses and yet more tasting.

After tasting, we went down into the cellar for dinner. Then back up to the conference room where the slate deck had been transformed into a "night club" with couches, chairs, coffee tables, a bar, firepots and a DJ. We danced the night away.

On Friday morning, we took a four hour drive northwest to Vina del Mar. We stayed at the Hotel del Mar, which is gorgeous. To say that we were spoiled on this trip would be an understatement.

This was free time prior to our Saturday evening flights back to the US.

As for which side of the Andes I liked best....I seriously can't choose. They are both fabulous. We had a great time and everyone wants to go back! There were a total of 23 in our group...from all over the US, one from Canada and two from Puerto Rico. All of us represent these wineries in our respective areas.

Whew, long first message there. When I speak of South America, well, I can speak for hours! ;-)
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Mar 9th, 2008, 02:21 PM
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cherrybomb is offline  
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Mar 9th, 2008, 02:26 PM
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It has been over 10 years since we visited. We were part of a viticulture & wine conference group. We opted to visit an area south of Mendoza called San Rafael. Interesting. The vineyards are netted to prevent hail damage. We then rode a bus over the Andes to Santiago. There we visited the Irazuriz/Caliterra outside Santiago, and Concha y Torro. We found the Chilean wine area more like California in climate, practices etc.

Good luck on your research.

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Mar 10th, 2008, 06:01 AM
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Hi Adam,
Just read your Chile wine trip report, sound like you had a great time and were able to explore some interesting wineries.

Our last trip to AR, we started in Salta and worked our way (w/a guide) to Mendoza. I agree with Skatedancer, you need to try the wines from there also and if you can stay at Colome, even better. Cafayate is another town in AR known for it's wineries that is also very interesting.

That being said, I recommend when you get to Mendoza, instead of staying in the city, stay at a Finca outside the city (which is what we did). From there, private tours to various wineries were set up. I highly recommend this route, rather than staying in town. When we went two years ago, all was extremely reasonable, I don't know what prices are like now.

Anyway, I hope you make it to AR, it's a fabulous country.
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Mar 10th, 2008, 09:43 AM
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Thanks everyone for the tips! It's extremely useful to hear about real experiences/trips people have had. Salta and Limarí were a bit off my radar but I'm going to do some more research on those. Also, I'm not super well-versed on Fincas near Mendoza. Has anyone had any good experiences at specific ones?
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Mar 10th, 2008, 10:53 AM
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Skatedancer and owlwoman are right,as higher the grapes are they develope a thicker skin and obviously more tanin, the red wines in Salta are one of the best in the world, definitelly. And the torrontes of course, has no point of comparison.
Even when the most famous are for wines has always been Mendoza, Sala has nothing to envy. In SAlta quality is more important than quantity. Adam, do not miss this little corner of Argentina next time.
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Mar 10th, 2008, 11:31 AM
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We stayed at Finca Adalgisa and loved it. We had originally wanted to stay at Club Tapiz, but it was booked and our TA put us here. We did go over to CT to have dinner one night and after seeing the property were very happy to be at the FA. It's a nice property, breakfast is great and the staff is extremely helpful. We had all our tours set up by our TA, but the staff there is very helpful, they made dinner reservations and there were also a few restaurants in walking distance.

We looked at the Park Hyatt in Mendoza, it's a beautiful property, but I don't think you get as local a feel as you do when you stay outside of Mendoza.

Anyway, hope this helps.
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