Day 8: Friday, Santiago

By Gwendolyn

We woke early to drive to De Martinio Winery just one hour south of Santiago. Another winery with some money behind it. The De Martino family of Italy bought the land and winery, but as the winemaker happily notes, they stay out of all wine decisions. Like Ventisquero and Veramonte, there was a guard at a gate. I wonder if the winemakers or anyone tells the guards of our appointments. They all eye us as though we are some crazy Americans, trying to visit their winery uninvited. And yet, most of these wineries seem to want to be open to the public. Then the guard explains to us in Spanish where to go, we nod and say Gracias although we have no idea what he is saying. Just doing their jobs, but it is quite different from the wineries of the US.

At De Martino we were greeted by the winemaker and marketing director. Both took us out in the truck to tour the vineyards, giving us a hat to wear, explaining, “you are very white.”Unlike Ventisquero, the vines were all in straight lines. Everything was well manicured and trained. We saw the usual: Carmenere, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec. One thing we did learn, that we’d seen while driving to Ventisquero, is vines that are trained very tall and in a canopy style, where the grapes hang down, with leaves canopied over them. You can walk under them and look up and the grapes are hanging down over you, like a fort made of vines. We learned that these are for table grapes. You can taste the difference between table and wine grapes by eating them side by side. De Martinio also had an organico section for their organic wines.

We went to the greeting room to taste through their line up. My favorite was the Chardonnay - quite possibly the best Chardonnay I’ve had from the area. The grapes come from Limari, a valley far north that is not yet used by many wineries or for many grapes, but I’m sure it will be, as more discover its potential. They are exported through Global Vineyard Imports. The tasting and tour was short and sweet. We left and, as we had thought ahead on directions getting back to the hotel, arrived as quickly as we ever had. We wondered why the concierge did not give us the directions that we discovered for ourselves. We’re thinking of making a pamphlet for hotel guests driving to wineries, saving other tourists from our same fate of arguing and getting lost. Although most tourists probably don’t need it as they are all on buses! There are so many buses and cruise ship groups. They dock possibly at Valpariso or another port, then bus in all the people for a few days, I’m sure the bus takes them to the sights. It was amazing how many Americans, Australians & British were around us. No Chileans at all.

That afternoon we ate lunch by the pool, goat cheese salad. Again, the goat cheese is very different here. Not as pungent as the French kind, and very hard and crumbly, reminding me of sheep’s cheese. It was so nice to eat light. We sat by the pool, our last day at the hotel, and enjoyed the weather. We left by 4 as we had to meet Alfredo downstairs at 5pm. From the hotel, Alfredo (and his driver) took us to Cousino Macul, a winery in the city of Santiago although it feels like its own little oasis. Again, a Chilean winery started by foreigners with money. In this case, old money. First we saw the main office, which had round desks made (or at least shaped like they were made) from large old barrels, botte type barrels. Attractive design. We did not tour any of the vineyards, just the old winery. We got a good history of the winery touring through the wood & barrels that are, thankfully, no longer used. They have an amazing library there with wines that date back to the 1940’s. We tasted through the wines down in their basement/wine library. Then the wine manager took us to see their ‘park’, which is in fact an enormous tree garden. They must have every type of tree there. Magnolias, weeping willows, redwoods, odd trees you think you’d only see in Australia, it was amazing. They have 10 full-time gardeners to tend this garden/park. Every thing is so well maintained, and they have a little rock fortress in the back with chairs engraved with each son’s name and statues of Poseidon and Venus. Streams and babbling brooks and iron gates showing the deception of Eve. It was truly amazing. We drove back to the hotel to ready ourselves for dinner. As Alfredo & Mike had a cigar in the bar, I got ready. I met them downstairs and we enjoyed a Cousino Macul red blend. Alfredo then took us to dinner. Unfortunately (or fortunately) he took us to dinner at the exact same restaurant we had gone to on Wednesday. But since the restaurant was excellent and we knew not many were open, we said nothing and only hoped that staff would not recognize us!

It was delicious again. Alfredo and I had the waiter bring a Birthday Eve cake for Mike.