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With some of the world’s most renowned vineyards, producing the most exquisite wines, Chile and Argentina make the perfect holiday destination for self-confessed wine lovers. Neil Palmer, Director and Co-Founder of Vintage Roots organic wine merchant, recently took a journey through the best of South America’s wine producing regions, from Maipo to Mendoza with many tantalising tasters in between.
Neil flew to Chile’s capital Santiago, via Madrid, and upon arrival was greeted by Sebastian de Martino from Nuevo Mundo who proceeded to take Neil on a visit to his estate.
“After a 40 minute drive south to Maipo, we arrived at his estate and launched straight into a tour, looking at his land, the soil and the river, followed by tasting and lunch.”
Neil tasted a range of new and vintage wines, and was particularly impressed by an amazing collection of old terracotta amphora ‘tinajas’ – traditional earthenware jars in which wine was aged. This was just the first of many stops though, and the following 12 days took Neil on an extensive tour of the nearby Chilean estates. Starting with ‘sulphur free’ organic specialists Teillery Vineyard, who were the first in Chile to cultivate their vineyards completely organically from the outset, Neil then moved on to the new Las Niῆas estate in Apalta, close to the famous Lapostelle estate with its beautiful old colonial style house. Next up was the well-known organic and biodynamic Chilean estate, Emiliana Organico.
“Wonderful as ever, with biodynamics in full flow and many new wines, including an exciting organic sparkler made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Biodynamic growers are organic to start with as a minimum, but also use and add in other methods and preparations to enhance the vitality of the plants, and achieve a better balance for the whole ecosystem. At Emiliana you can see all these preparations and special farming methods in operation. They also carry the ‘Fair for Life’ symbol on wines here meaning that they look after their workers’ conditions.”
From Emiliana Organico, the whistlestop tour continued to Antiyal, the estate of Alvaro Espinoza and his wife Marina.
“Master winemaker and biodynamic guru Alvaro turns out terrific and rare terroir driven wines from his vineyards, some of which have huge cacti growing in, others are interspersed with almond trees. Alvaro produces some ‘big’ structured red wines from his Cabernet, Carménère, Syrah and Garnacha grapes. Energy generated from solar panels here helps with the pumping of water for irrigation, which is essential in this increasingly drought stricken area.”
After two full weeks tasting the best wines of Chile, Neil’s tour then continued into neighbouring Argentina, beginning with a flight across the Andes to Mendoza.
“We could not refuse the Mendoza Wine Festival happening in town that night, which also gave us a chance to meet and socialise with our next hosts – Alpamanta. Their small biodynamic estate south of Mendoza is a real gem and we’re delighted to offer their stunningly good Cabernet Franc, a variety which is being much talked about in Argentina at present.”
Neil then journeyed through the peaks of Argentina to Domaine Bousquet, in Tupungato. There Neil enjoyed not only the “consistent, high quality, elegant wines”, but also the delicious food in the on-site restaurant, ‘Gaia’, surrounded by the stunning backdrop of the snow-capped Andes Mountains. This marked the end of Neil’s specialist wine tour, but he just had time to explore vibrant Buenos Aires before flying back to the UK.
You can browse Vintage Roots' range of specialist organic and biodynamic wines at www.vintageroots.co.uk. HighLives Travel customers can claim 10% off their first order with Vintage Roots - contact us today to claim your free discount code. If you are interested in booking a specialist wine tasting tour in Chile, Argentina, or anywhere in Latin America, HighLives can help you plan your ideal itinerary, advising on the best estates to visit and taking care of all the travel arrangements.