Less than an hour west of Santiago is the Casablanca Valley wine region, best known for the white wines Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, and red Pinot Noir. We headed out that way because the representative of the Ruta de Vinos Casablanca responded to Jonathan’s email with a list of wineries that have tastings and do not require an advance reservation. The list was long, about eight vineyards, but our objective was to be able to keep going if a winery was not offering tastings or we decided not to visit.
Veramonte was the first winery on our list that we got to and we were happy to find that as promised, they offered wine tastings without a reservation. We bought a bottle of the Veramonte sauvignon blanc 2014, and the Primus Carmenere 2011. The grapes for the Carmenere come from the Colchagua Valley, though the wine is made at the winery in Casablanca.
Emiliana, north side of the road just a bit further along. We chatted with our host, Ramon, about the wines and he gave us the name of the distributor for Peru, to see whether we could find any there. We were seated with a young man (Jean-Benoit) who turned out to be from Montreal, traveling in the wine country of Chile. By the end of our tasting and chatting, we asked where he was off to next and found that he’d arrived by taxi with plans to continue on to other wineries as best he could. We offered to take him along with us since he had been good company. We shared our car picnic (air conditioning in the car), and then went on to the next winery.
We tasted four organic wines including Signos de Origen (white blend), and Coyam (red blend). JH bought a bottle of Coyam. The website says we also tasted wines from the Adobe and Nova, their other lines.
Quintay, north side of the highway after Veramonte, did not have tastings available because they had groups with reservations coming in. They offered us a tasting an hour later, but we kept moving.
Vinamar was on the south side of the road up against a hill, great view out over vineyards. From the highway you tend not to notice Vinamar because the Indomita winery main building is higher on the hillside and larger. (Indomita either didn’t have tastings or was too expensive). Here we had a sparkling rose, sauvignon blanc, chardonnay and a cabernet sauvignon. My favorite was the sauvignon blanc, which I believe we all liked.
Getting to the William Cole vineyard involved turning off toward Tapihue and going to Km 4.5. We found it without trouble but they were not offering tastings, so we got back on the road. By now it was 3 pm, so we decided to try one more on the list.
We chose Casas del Bosque as our last stop because it was described as in Casablanca. The rest of the directions said turn onto Padre Hurtado and follow the signs. These took us back out of town, but we did find the vineyard. They have a large restaurant that was busy and also had a number of tastings underway, and a nice gift shop to browse in while you waited for your place to be ready. Our hostess was an interesting young woman who spoke creditable English, and when I asked her about it, she said she learned at school and had never been out of Chile. She hopes to study abroad in France, where she has some relatives in the wine industry. Jean-Benoit encouraged her to learn French and go for it. She answered all our questions, even after being somewhat intimidated by our collective knowledge of wine and languages, but when Jonathan asked whether he could try Carmenere that wasn’t on our tour, she agreed and even opened a new bottle. No one has been as gracious.
With that, we dropped Jean Benoit in the center of Casablanca and headed for home/Buin. It was almost 7pm by the time we arrived, but it was a great day.