Wedged between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes, Chile holds some of the most unspoiled natural beauty in the world. It also offers some of the highest quality wines producing festive sparklers, crisp and refreshing whites, and bold, world-class reds. Trafalgar’s Chile tours will take you from the capital city of Santiago, a buzzing and rapidly expanding metropolis, to the wonders of Patagonia, a majestic wilderness of snowy peaks, wild rivers and huge glaciers. Here we’ve put together a full guide on where to sip the best Chilean wine in this fascinating country.
Chilean wine in Santiago & Casablanca valley
For wine lovers, Santiago is one of the best destinations in South America. From here you can reach some of Chile’s premier wine regions such as Maipo Valley, Colchagua Valley, Casablanca Valley, and Aconcagua Valley.
Although the hilly Casablanca Valley has only been producing quality wine for 30 years, it has quickly become the country’s go-to source of crisp whites. There are about 1,500 hectares of vineyards in the Valley. Casablanca is located just over 30km from the Pacific Ocean and 70km from Santiago, extending ripening time and making it an excellent home for cool-climate varieties like Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.
Chilean Sauvignon Blanc tends to be bright, citrusy, and fruit-forward, with plenty of acidity and undertones of fresh grass. Chilean Chardonnay, on the other hand, can be made in a range of styles but is typically well balanced, with both roundness and fresh acidity.
You can journey to the wine country, visiting an exclusive winery in Casablanca Valley for a gourmet lunch served alfresco in exquisite surrounds. Trafalgar’s ‘Dive into Culture’ offers you a unique opportunity to meet the winemakers for a personalised winery experience.
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Chilean wine in Patagonia
Imagine this: you go on a wander through Patagonia past pebbled beaches, cascading waterfalls, bubbling creeks, shimmering lakes, enormous glaciers and jagged mountain spires on your journey. Following a day full of adventures, you take a sip of fantastic red wine and watch the sun set above the Andes. What a dream!
Patagonian wines have been known for centuries for their elegant, rich red wines from Pinot Noir to Merlot and Malbec, and Chile does it best. Chile’s golden years came at the end of the 19th century when the rest of the wine world groaned under the onslaught of mildew and phylloxera, and the isolated vineyards of Chile could supply an almost unlimited amount of healthy, deeply coloured wine. These were from the well-known varieties of the vinifera family, the wines of which were introduced here in the first half of the century.
Over the next hundred years little has changed in the vineyards and cellars of Patagonia. But the return to democracy in Chile sparked a significant uptick in business activity in the 1990s and spurred a determined ambition to bring the Chilean wine industry onto the world stage.
The vineyards on the Chilean side of Patagonian mountain range, near the Pacific Ocean, are in areas with very soft hills and valleys. Here the soil contains clay and sand, so needed for proper fermentation. The amplitude between day and night temperatures is high, the copious rainfall during the winter is strong and the Patagonian winds produce dryness in the atmosphere. All of this combined supports healthy growth and helps to avoid the outburst of diseases.
There are hundreds of big and small wineries scattered around the region, but you are also guaranteed to find good Chilean wine in such hubs like Puerto Varas, Puerto Natales, Punta Arenas and Puerto Montt.
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What to pair with Chilean wine?
From the grilled beef found on traditional asados (barbecues) in backyards and street corners, to the prime beef cuts found in steakhouses all over the country, the art of steak has been perfected in Chile. And that’s not all – Patagonian lamb is the stuff of dreams, cooked asado al palo, on a spit or stick next to a fire. Enjoy it with a glass of red Chilean wine paired with fresh salad or pebre (a Chilean condiment made of chopped onions, tomatoes, garlic, cilantro, aji peppers, and olive oil) for a sumptuous Chilean meal.
Empanadas are a beloved dish across Latin America. In Chile, they’re traditionally made with a filling called ‘pino’, a mix of ground beef, raisins, onions, black olives and hard-boiled eggs. Trafalgar Local Specialists will show you where to try the best empanadas at any time of the year and what red wine to pair them with.
Local Chilean fish
As for the white Chilean wine like Sauvignon Blanc from Casablanca Valley, it is of course best paired with local fish. With its 3,000 miles of coastline, Chile’s seafood offerings are some of the best on earth. Beyond Chilean sea bass—which is actually the Patagonian toothfish—the country’s waters offer up tons of tuna, hake and conger eel that will be a delicious pairing to white Chilean wine.
If you would like to see ragged mountaintops or try the best of Chilean wines, why not book a Trafalgar trip such as the Icons of South America or Wonders of Patagonia? Travel with us and unlock the infinite possibilities thanks to our exclusive Trafalgar Highlights.