This afternoon was the conclusion of our three day private Chilean Wine tour we took with Uncorked Wine Tours. As I wrote in the last few posts, Jose has been a wonderful host as he’s taken us to several of Chile’s finest wineries, and we’ve had an outstanding time.
After departing from our last winery, Neyen, we had an hour and twenty minutes to Vinas VIK. While distance wise, it was not far from Neyen, (literally just across the mountainside) it was a long drive as there was not a direct road, and you had to wind you way around the mountain. One of the nice things about taking a private winery tour, is you’re not rushed and can linger around without holding up the group. Jose of Uncorked Wine Tours literally took care of everything for us, taking our individual preferences (i.e. Hotel, meals, wine types and region) into consideration, and gave us a ‘turn key’ wine holiday we could never have planned on our own.
I emphasize this as I next write about our last winery experience: VIK. Officially called Vinas VIK, this gated winery compound is like the Disney World of wineries! Not that they have rides, but the ultra-premium winery (iconic is what they would say in Chile) is so vast in size, and everything is over-the-top modern, innovative, and definitely First Class. Sitting high up on the mountain-side, the entrance is guarded by a large gate that offers no sense of what is inside.
After buzzing the intercom and verifying our appointment there, the doors slid open, and we were soon on our way up the winding dirt road, which eventually became a road set with stone pavers as we got closer to the hotel’s entrance.
We were met at the hotel entrance by an elegant lady, who gave us a tour of the hotel living room as they call it (they don’t have a lobby or check-in desk), courtyard, and restaurant. The furnishings thru out the property are elegantly modern, with an eclectic taste of variety. From the billiards table to the sofas and artwork, there was an interesting medley of thoughtful design. I especially liked one of the large glass cocktail tables that contained hundreds of PC circuit boards – quite unusual and cool!
We would later look at a couple of the guest rooms (suites) and they were not only individually named, but the room name reflected the individual decor and theming of the room – all were different!Prior to lunch we walked around the terrace (where we would soon have lunch) and down below to the infinity pool area. The pool design was stunning, with a beautiful overlook of the mountains, vineyards, and lake down below, and the pool appeared to drift over into the lake far below.
Of course we each had to wash our hands before lunch, and went to separate restrooms, each individually unique. I don’t normally make a habit of taking a photo in the men’s room, but this was a private one, and so classy I made an exception. The room was covered floor to ceiling with individual small rocks, and had a huge and fancy stone wash basin.
So all washed up and ready for lunch. And what a lunch it was to be! For most of the meal we had the entire terrace area to ourselves, while another couple was later seated at the far end of the terrace as we had our main course. Talk about a lunch with a view! I told Steve (DOS) this reminded me of the elegance and view of Auberge du Soleil in Napa Valley, however this was even nicer and more private.
We started with their Cabernet/Carmenere red, which was elegantly poured from a decanter into our Riedel glasses. This exquisite wine was decadent, and we hadn’t even had a bite of food to pair it with yet!
I thought this was their top wine (VIK) it was so outstanding, yet it was not, rather their other wine (Milla Kalla). The Milla Kalla wine was so good, (and reasonably priced) we ordered a case to be shipped home. We would later try the iconic VIK wine at a private tasting after lunch.
The weather for the day was beautiful; sunny and warm. While we’ve had good weather throughout this trip, it’s technically still late winter in Chile, and some of the morning and evenings were ‘chilly’, actually refreshing though from Florida’s hot summer weather.
Our first course was a mushroom cappuccino served in a elegant china coffee cup. We weren’t sure if we were supposed to drink it or use a spoon! Very classy!
Our lunch was served very leisurely, and our wine and water were refilled regularly. For our main’s we were served ‘tapas-style’, with two different courses of four cold dishes,
followed by four courses of hot dishes. While I was a bit freaked out at first about the Octopus (it’s quite popular in Chile), I tried it, and must say it wasn’t bad. I even had the duck without quacking up to badly! The cuisine was high quality gourmet, but I’m more a meat-and-potatoes guy, but it was still nice to try the different items I wouldn’t order at home. Steve (DOS) on the other hand is much more adventurous with food and loved everything.
At the conclusion of our lunch, our Uncorked guide, Jose, joined us for coffee, while we had a delicious dessert. We finished up dessert, and had one last view from the terrace before moving on to our iconic wine tasting.
When I say wine tasting, it was actually a full afternoon tour around the winery, followed by an amazing ‘barrel-type’ wine tasting of their iconic wine VIK. For the property tour, we met our local winery guide who escorted us around the many hectares of vines. The property is so huge and private, you have no sense of the ‘outside world’ while there – you literally are in a private retreat spread amongst the mountains, hills, and vineyards.
We even stopped at a scenic spot on the property where they have barbecue pits and tables for guests wishing to have a lunch out there. Yes, with a nice glass of VIK vino and a view like this, we could definitely envision doing that if we stayed there.
The next picture shows the four of us: Jose, Steve (DOS), our local VIK guide, and Steve (UNO). Across the lake to the top left is the hotel and restaurant where we started.
The property is so large, they actually have full size buses to transport the workers around the vineyards and to their village down below.
After our lengthy and informative ‘safari’ tour thru 5 different micro-climates, we arrived at the wine-making facility. When we pulled up here to this grand structure, I felt like we were walking into the Kennedy Center it was so large and elegant, with low level water flowing across a bed of rocks, mixed in with larger stones for quite an aesthetic and symmetrical look.
I asked if this was the main entrance for everyone, including workers, and our guide said yes. What a grand entrance and exit every day coming to work!
Here is a view inside the entrance showing the vast area for wine-making,
and another view thru the windows, facing the entrance-way we just walked thru.
We walked thru the huge facility, which only part of which is currently used – the mammoth size is built for expansion for the decades to come as the wine becomes better ‘known’. Our local guide pointed out some of the huge vats as we continued along our tour to the tasting room. As we would later note, VIC is on par with iconic Napa Valley wines such as Opus One, and I predict in a few short years it will be known as such too.
And finally to the highlight of the tour – the tasting room! Not to shown a simple tasting of course, as this was VIC – everything is top notch, and this tasting lived up to its high standards. The tasting room table is unique in itself, as the table top shows a painted map of their vineyards, with descriptions of the areas where the different grapes are grown – all within the VIK property compound – like a small country!
We got to try a ‘barrel-bottle’ tasting of grapes from several different lots of their vineyards. It was basically a barrel tasting that they had bottled that morning into small tasting bottles, so we could try these different wines, at different stages in the aging process. The winemaker and staff would use this process to evaluate their blending of the best lots to use for the final VIK product.
We even got to meet the winemaker at VIK, and he was such a nice and down-to-earth man, gladly answering any questions we had, and posing for a photo with us. Steve (DOS) below, and with Jose, and The Steve’s below that. I told him I can’t imagine the responsibility and care it goes into such a large (and expensive) quality operation.
We sampled our VIK wine samples, and compared the different vintages as we did so.
As we concluded our tasting, we agreed this had been the highlight of our trip, and Jose no doubt saved the best for last, although everywhere he had taken us over the last three days had been outstanding!
We stopped by the VIK gift shop on the way out, but not before passing thru an ‘over flow’ restaurant they have. It wasn’t being used the day we were there, but it can also be used for private functions. As with all areas of the property, it was eclectic modern with a classy retro twist (my description, not theirs!)
At the gift shop we bought a bottle of the 2010 and 2011 VIK to take home, (with wooden box case of course!) and ordered a case of the Milla Cala wine we had at lunch to be shipped home.
As we headed out of VIK, it was a bitter-sweet beginning of the end of the trip as we headed back to our Santiago hotel around 5pm. With traffic this time of day it would take us about 2 1/2 hours to get there, and we were driving back as the sun was setting.
It was actually closer to 8pm when we checked back into the Grand Hyatt Santiago, and as we had had such a wonderful time, we invited Jose and his wife to join us for dinner that evening when we returned, which I’ll continue on in the next post. For now, so long to all of the wonderful wineries we visited. And a special thank you this afternoon to Vinas VIK winery and staff for such an outstanding, over-the-top experience! Muchas Gracias!