While I love craft beer, I also love wine and was very excited to have wine focused activities on our trip to Santiago Chile. When I first started drinking wine, the Concha Y Toro Carmenere was one of my favourites and I looked forward to trying less common Chilean wines with a palate that has matured over the years. Since we only had a short stay in Santiago Chile and we were not sure about the weather in May, we decided to keep our wine tastings within the city.
Wine Bar in the City: Bocanariz
On our must-do list was Bocanariz in Lastarria. If you do not have time and/or do not feel like visiting many wineries, Bocanariz showcases Chilean wines in a comfortable atmosphere with good food. While you can buy bottles and wine by the glass, it is a great place to try wine flights. While I was a little skeptical at first, after we tried the 2 flights, it was evident how well curated their wine cellar is. We started with the sparkling flight and our favourite was the Folatre Brut and had a full glass of it after. We would also walk into every wine store to see if we could find it, but we had no luck.Our second flight was the Limuri Valley. While my favourite was the Tamaya Syrah, I would definitely buy bottles of the Tabali Chardonnay and Maycas de Limari Pinot Noir. We also had some ceviche which went well with the sparkling flight and the chardonnay. The bread was a nice touch too and the butter they serve is the best butter I have ever had in my life, no lie.
The 2 flights, 2 glasses of Folatre, a ceviche, and with tip ended up being $55US which was pretty reasonable. We would visit again and highly recommend Bocanariz.
For more information: http://www.bocanariz.cl/en/home/
Vineyard in the City: Vina Aquitania
We had heard it was possible to take the metro to some wineries located near the city and so we decided to visit Vina Aquitania because it is smaller and more scenic than Cousino Macul (you can find their wines in Canada so we wanted to try something more unique), which is also nearby (15 minute walk from Vina Aquitania). We scheduled the reserve tour for 11:00 and left our hotel to catch the metro at 09:00.
As we were staying at the Renaissance Santiago, we walked to the Military School station and transferred to the blue line and got off at El Presidente. The 2.2 km walk itself was easy and there were sidewalks but it did take you in an area that looked a little rougher than what we had seen in Santiago. There was a lot of garbage and stray dogs. Was it unsafe? We cannot really be sure but we did feel slightly uncomfortable and would not walk there when it is dark. Eventually, you end up near a large Jumbo supermarket and the neighbourhoods improve and become fancy private schools and gated communities. On the way back, we walked by Cousino Macul and took the metro at the mall. While the neighbourhoods were nicer, there is a large stretch of the walk without sidewalks so you are walking on the side of the road.
The tour starts with a walk up the tower on the property to admire the view, and then you get to visit the wine making area, the fermenting area, and the labeling/storage location. The tour continues with a wine tasting in the garden, under the tree, which offers a lovely view of the Andes. We tried the rose, the syrah, and the Cabernet. Of all the wines, the rose was my favourite. Perhaps it was the weather or tasting notes that I am not familiar with for the syrah and Cabernet but I wasn’t a big fan.
We chose to do the reserve tour over the premium tour for timing and price; the reserve tour 8,000 chilean pesos (about $16US) over 15,000 chilean pesos (about $30US) for the premium. Their chardonnay has supposedly won lots of awards so it would have been nice to try it, so maybe next time. You can buy the wines in their small shop for cheaper than stores in Santiago. We would have stayed for a glass of rose if they had chilled bottles in the store or even sold it by the glass. As we were flying to Buenos Aires the next day and had leftover wine at the hotel, we did not buy a bottle of rose for later.
While they accept credit card, we ended up having to pay cash due to an issue with the credit card system, so be mindful and bring enough cash as there are no ATMS nearby.
While we were not overly impressed with the wines, we enjoyed the tasting, scenery, and setting and so we recommend visiting at least once.
For more information: http://aquitania.cl/en/
We didn’t have any bad wines, but there were definitely wines we enjoyed more than others! There is definitely a sense of pride and identity from the Chilean wines, and even the Executive Lounge at the Renaissance hotel had a nice selection of Chilean wines. We enjoyed the Undurraga Brut and the D’Alamel Carmenere. We were also surprised with the quality, as many lounges offer less good options.
If we end up in Chile again, we will definitely visit Bocanariz again and perhaps other wineries on our way to Valparaiso. As we are back home now, we hope to one day find the wines we enjoyed the most in Chile on store shelves here.