in Search of Premium Wines, Marcus & Rachel in Chile Days 8-11

Day 8 – After tasting wines, lots of different wines from all around Chile, Marcus has decided we are going to focus on Casablanca. We drove the 1 ½ back and went to a bunch of wineries on his short list. After an exhausting day tasting, nothing really stood out – especially compared with our experience at Catrala.

Day 9 – Today is Sunday and 89% of Chileans are catholic so most wineries and other shops are closed for the day. We decided to go the Mercado Central (central markets), which is a fish market. I have never seen so much fresh fish in my life and what an experience it was. The moment we got near the building we were approached by venders and restaurateurs to try and entice us to buy from them. As we entered the building we were swarmed from all angles. This can be irritating or fun – depending on your mood but either way a must see in Santiago. As always people use Jasper (our 4 year old) to try and get our business, one vendor brought out a live crab for Jasper in order to get us to his stand. We ended up having an amazing seafood feast and picked up some fresh oysters, fish and octopus (on Jasper’s request) for later.
Today is also Children’s day in Chile so we ventured over to the mall where they had lots of fun activities for Jasper. On the way home we stopped off at a nice little French restaurant and sat on the patio and soaked in some much need sunshine – one of the only days the sun was shining on our trip.
Day 10 – Our first appointment of the day is with Kingston Winery in Casablanca. We are always happy to get out of the city in the morning.  Santiago is like a big smog magnet, so all the smog and pollution settles right in the city. When we first arrived Marcus was really concerned about buying wine from this area with all the pollution around. We were relieved when we first drove to Casablanca to see how clear and fresh the air was. On the way out of the city you drive through a tunnel through a large mountain and the apparently the smog does not get to the other side. This is also helped by the fact the ocean is very close to Casablanca so the constant sea breeze helps to the keep the air clean.  The temperature is also around 4 degrees cooler on the Casablanca side of the mountain.
We pulled up to long palm tree-lined driveway and at the end of the road was a fantastic little winery. The young winemaker, Evelyn, warmly greeted us and showed up around the winery.  Marcus was highly anticipating tasting the wines after all the medals and accolades they have received.  We were very impressed with gravity fed facility and the labour intensive process Evelyn goes through to make her wines. This is truly another passionate winemaker who does not believe in cutting any corners. She led us to her beautiful tasting room where she had the table all set up and ready for us.  We tasted through all the wines in the portfolio and they were all very good exciting wines. We absolutely fell in love with the 2008 Pinot Noir and the 2008 Sauvignon Blanc – again fine examples of why Chile is making such waves in the wine industry at present. We took a bottle of each to taste with dinner – the final test and the Pinot Noir passed with flying colours.
Day 11 – Woke up again today to a very smog filled day. The smog is starting to get to us, most days we are fighting a headache. We have a few more appointments to go to before we are done. Most of the smaller wineries don’t have tasting rooms so the only way try the wines are to call and make an appointment. The biggest challenge is finding someone who speaks English or understands Marcus’s broken Spanish. Marcus has been hung up on several times because they are just not able to understand each other – this has added some comic relief on this difficult sourcing trip.
After another long day of tasting we really just weren’t excited about any of the wines. We are very excited about Catrala and Kingston and have decided to go with the best and not compromise value just to buy more. We are very positive and feel as though we have accomplished amazing things on this difficult, stressful sourcing trip. We hope you will all enjoy the selection of wines that you are going to be getting – I know we will! Cheers!