Today was our third and last day of wine touring thru the beautiful Chilean wine country. Like on previous days, we had a full breakfast at the hotel, which is especially important if you’ll be tasting wines most of the day!
We took a couple more photos of our hotel, theTerra Vina, (which is located in Santa Cruz, Chile) and the surrounding vineyards before heading to the lobby to check out.
Our tour guide, Jose, of Uncorked Wine Tours, picked us around 9:30am, and helped us with our too many pieces of luggage. Fortunately Jose drives a van, allowing us and the luggage to fit in! Here DOS carries out the new wine case we bought which holds a case of wine, and you can check it on the plane like a suitcase.
Today we toured two vineyards, with a lunch stop in the middle at the iconic VIK winery, where we toured a couple years ago. Our first stop was at Alchemy Winery, which gives new meaning to the saying ‘You can’t judge a book by its cover!’. As we pulled up to the winery gates and drove towards the wine-making facilities, Steve (DOS’s) first comment was – I don’t think you’ll be buying a cap from here! LOL!
The place did look rather decrepit, if not downright weathered, but there were some horses in the distant part of the property, and a cute dog welcomed us as we arrived. (It turns out the owner of the land raises Polo horses.) This weathered winery look, however, helps to discredit ‘judging things as a first impression’, as the wines were very good quality; so much better than one would suspect by viewing the facilities.
We soon met Eduardo, one of the two young partners at the winery, and were really impressed with his knowledge and work ethic of wine production. Alchemy is a very small winery, and the look of the place seemed more like an old farm than a winery, however they make wonderful quality wines, and are masters of utilizing space everywhere to accomplish their goal. We really enjoy seeing small places like this with owners that put their heart and soul into their wines. Much like others we saw on this trip, these small and often family wineries aim for quality over quantity.
At Alchemy, we first toured the wine-making facilities and barrel room. Like other small wineries we’ve been to, we were astonished at the amount of physical work and time the owners themselves invest in their winery. Here, the working space was very small, and the barrel room downstairs in the basement did not even have an elevator! The barrels were literally carried down the old brick staircase, and the wine was syphoned out later via hosing equipment.
The barrel room was very tight, but efficiently laid out. I have no idea how they move the barrels around in that room, but they obviously know what they are doing. Eduardo gave us a couple barrel tastings in the room, fresh from the barrels!
Before we went back upstairs to the tasting room, Eduardo showed us his small office and lab next ‘door’, actually just a half wall separating the two. I thought that was awesome the creativity and art of wine making that comes from the facilities there; it reminded me of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak starting Apple out of Job’s California garage. Great minds and talent can accomplish so much indeed!
After the basement tour, we went back upstairs for some wine tasting. The tasting, like the tour, was just DOS and myself, and Eduardo, along with Jose our tour guide with Uncorked Tours, who obviously wasn’t drinking.
We had simple but nice tasting, and Eduardo even gave us a couple labels from one of their wines we didn’t taste: The Three Steve’s! (Sounds like the name for a good website – LOL!)
After buying a couple bottles of wine, we thanked and said goodbye to Eduardo. By the time we left DOS had a new doggie friend!
Our next stop was a bit of a drive as we went to VIK winery for lunch. Like Clos Apalta’s lunch yesterday, VIK’s is an over-the-top indulgence. We toured VIK a couple years ago, and like last time, I took a photo of the big entrance gates as we arrived on their humongous mountainside and valley property, some 10,000 acres according to Vik’s website.
The winery is only part of the mammoth estate, which includes luxury suites, restaurants, wedding venues, and of course the iconic VIK wines and facilities. While we didn’t go to the main hotel lobby building this visit (way up on the mountain), here are a couple photos of it we took last time, with the iconic Titanium roof and the huge infinity pool out back where we had the fantastic lunch with a view last time.
Today, however we stayed in the valley, and it was quite overcast, however it didn’t rain on our lunch visit. Here’s a view of some of the vineyards, so vast there are signs indicating your way around the vast property.
We did walk thru the wine making facilities we toured last time, which were like everything VIK does, “over-the-top”!
Unlike our last visit however, we did not eat at the Hotel’s exquisite patio level restaurant (as seen in a previous post), but did eat in a new restaurant they had opened in a vineyard-level venue which was in the same building we had our wine tasting on our last visit 2 years ago, in an adjacent building across from the huge wine making facilities.
The restaurant had floor to ceiling windows, and we sat next to a virtual wall frame, with constantly changing colors; pretty cool – like a huge mood ring from the 70’s!
Since our last visit a couple years ago, VIK has added a third wine – LA PIU BELLE which is mid-range between the Milla Calla, and their iconic wine VIK, which bears the name of the winery. Unlike the other two wines at VIK, the new LA PUI BELLE has a totally different and artsy label (if not topless nudity – close your eyes! LOL!)
The MILLA CALA label was redone to from the ones we bought last time, which is more in the looks of the VIK label.
We had a wonderful and leisurely lunch paired with the MILLA CALA and the La PIU BELLE label. We did request (and paid for) a glass of VIK to have with our food as well. Apparently since we had booked the tour with Jose months ago, they have started different food and wine offerings, while at the time of the reservation they only had the one lunch pairing. Had we known we would have booked the VIK package with VIK only, however all three of the wines are exceptional and definitely full-bodied, earthy, decant-able wines.
It was actually nice trying each of the three wines, but to be perfectly honest they were all excellent, and as novice wine connoisseurs, there wasn’t a whole lot of difference in them, at least to us.
We do know from taking the tour and meeting the wine maker, how much extra care goes into the iconic VIK label; literally the best of the best grapes from the best areas of the vineyard (the mammoth property has five different micro-climates!), new one time French Oak etc, exquisite blending from the best appellations on property etc, hence the higher priced and more delicate wine. When I went to the downstairs restroom, I took a wrong turn and ended up in the tasting room we went to last time. It was there we met the winemaker and sampled barrel tastings of the VIK wine on these tables, which had a map of the VIC property and appellations on the table top. Since no one was in there when I went, I took a couple photos for nostalgia, as we had such a good time there on our previous visit.
After our wonderful lunch at VIK, DOS bought a bottle of the LA PUI BELLE wine to take home. We still have two bottles of VIK and several bottles of the MILLA CALA from our last visit, so the mid-level LA PUI BELLE will be a nice compliment to our collection, especially with the unique artwork on the bottle.
DOS wanted to get the wine in one of these cool blue boxes, but unfortunately they only had the one display model there.
So we ended up getting the LA PIU BELLE in this wooden box instead.
I don’t usually post the wine prices, but VIK had a nice chart of their prices in Chilean Pesos. I think their VIK wines is every bit or better than Opus One, and for half the cost, while other other two labels beat most of what Napa Valley has to offer for a much lesser cost. VIK will only continue to get better, and I would imagine pricey as time goes by. As of July 2018, the regular 750 ML size bottles of VIK wines in US Dollars equates to:
LA PIU BELLE = $74
MILLA CALA = $33
VIK = $136
After buying the LA PIU BELLE, we headed out of the restaurant and wine-making facilities, stopping to take a couple more photo of Jose and DOS with his boxed purchase, as we headed out thru the fancy entrance.
Then we made the long but scenic walk back to Jose’s van, flanked on both sides by the VIK vineyards, with beautiful mountain views as we headed out.
VIK was supposed to be our last stop before heading back to Santiago, but as a bonus, we made one last stop at a large winery on the way. It was a bit of a drive and late in the afternoon when we arrived at Casa Silva, but it made for a wonderful ending to our three day wine tour thru Chile. Casa Silva is a large scale winery with expansive facilities and land, and like VIK and others, offers scenic venues for weddings.
Once inside Casa Silva, the large winery resembled that of a Napa Valley-type tasting room, with lots of wines on display, wine souvenirs, and of course a huge tasting bar.
Jose showed us our Chilean location on a wall map there, and pointed out some of the regions we had been touring over the last three days.
We had our last tasting here at Casa Silva, and enjoyed talking with our wine-tender, Eugenia.
As we finished up our tasting, DOS bought two last bottles of vino to bring home. (That’s literally all we could take back after buying all the bottles of vino!)
After leaving Casa Silva, we then headed back to Santiago for the last night of our quick trip to Chile. We once again stayed at the brand new Hyatt Centric Santiago, where we stayed our first night we arrived in Chile, only three days ago.
We were a little embarrassed bringing into the hotel all our luggage and wine bags and boxes, and it took two people to assist us to our room. The staff at this Hyatt Centric is outstanding though, and they remembered us from our last stay 3 nights ago. I’m sure it looked like we had had some party since we were last there!
As it was already close to 8pm and we were tired, we headed right out for our last dinner on this trip. As we wanted something fairly quick and casual, we walked to nearby Tiramisu Italian Restaurant, in this Las Condes neighborhood of Santiago, Chile.
We were surprised how busy Tiramisu was at this relatively early hour of the night – the place was packed! Fortunately we got a table in one of the back rooms of this sprawling Italian Restaurant, that had been added onto via adjacent buildings over the years, and offered indoor and outdoor dining.
Both DOS and I had individual pizzas which were delicious! Although we ordered some wine with the pizza, we were both ‘wined-out’ by now, so I had a local brewski as a change to go with my pizza.
The service was amazingly efficient for such a busy place, and the waiters all looked classy in their red shirts and black pants as they scurried around the dining room.
So after a quick but delicious last night meal, we paid the check and headed back to the hotel. Tomorrow is the Fourth of July Holiday in the US, and we’re flying home tomorrow night. Fortunately we can get a 4pm checkout at the Hyatt, and sleep in a bit in the morning after a busy three days of touring. Until then . . . Buenas Noches!