After much debate because it was our only non-scheduled day in Santiago, we decided to drive to Vina Ventisquero and meet with Felipe Tosso. The trek was three hours long as the winery is more out of the way than most.
An oddity we noticed: on the highway, we saw so many people crossing in the middle, this is a 4 lane highway with cars going 120 Km/hr, and people cross it like it’s a regular city street. We thought perhaps the many memorials we saw on the side of the road were not from people dying in car accidents, but people being hit because they were crossing the road with cars going that fast! Even odder, we never saw anything on either side of the road to make them cross, it was very strange.
Most areas we passed on the drive were poor, we saw lots of agricultural land shacks. Ventisquero was quite big. Driving in you pass by Agrosuper’s (their owners/investors) fields & factories. Possibly explaining their location. The vineyards of Ventisquero wind around and are not in straight squares because when planting they did not want to disrupt the flora & fauna. They have a number of native and natural trees and plants surrounding the vineyards and the winery uses sustainable agriculture, recycling all of their resources. Everything they take from the land is put back into the land.
Felipe Tosso, the winemaker, spoke excellent English, he’d actually lived in US when he was 5 with his family. Touring the vineyards, Felipe got down and dirty, showing us the soils, tasting the grapes, pointing out the leaf growth and veraison. He reminded me of some winemakers in France, who so love their land and vineyard, that they get excited to talk about it and explain the process. We then tasted through many of the wines, which were all showing lovely, except the Chardonnay that was corked twice before we got a good bottle. My favorite was the Carmenere Grey. Really delicious and complex and smooth, particularly for a Carmenere, with the spice and meaty flavor I expect from the variety, but it carried an elegance that I found impressive. The many different labels of the brand were confusing, I feel it could use a little more uniformity to help in branding. Felipe asked us to join him for lunch and so we did. Lunch was a salad with lots of hearts of palm (very popular) and iceberg lettuce (also very popular). Then some meat & rice and a most amazing ice cream of a native fruit that was just phenomenal. We drove the 3 hours home and got VERY lost getting back into Santiago. The street we took to get on the highway was unfortunately one-way so coming off of the highway was more difficult. We used the sun (sets in the west) to get at least a direction of which way we should go. We eventually found a street that was on our map and were able to follow it to the hotel. It was already 6pm but still somewhat sunny. We sat by pool for about an hour and unwound from our much-too-eventful drive. I went to the gym, where I used early 90’s Nautilus equipment and watched some Olympic skiing. We decided to have dinner at El Cid, a restaurant in the hotel highly recommended by our Fromer’s guide, not that this guide had helped at ALL in our trip so far. Their maps are terrible and the one restaurant they suggested in Vina del Mar made me ill. They redeemed themselves a bit at this dinner. We enjoyed delicious seafood and drank a Morande Chardonnay, the wine was good and matched well with the food. One odd thing about the restaurant: the food was delicious, but the lighting was so bright. Typically, restaurants such as this one, particularly in the states, have more dim lighting, but this was almost florescent. The service, however, was excellent as always, and the ability to go up the elevator straight to our room was appealing.