Colchagua Valley is one of the most famous wine regions of Chile situated in the Central Valley. What the valley is famous for it’s the full-bodied red wines and especially Cabernet Sauvignon. However, other red and wine grape varieties are well suited in different microclimates of the valley.
In this post, we’ll spend three days in Colchagua Valley, visit breathtaking vineyards with modern wineries and taste good wines. We’ll visit only two wineries a day, so we can enjoy some relaxed time. Let’s begin!
Winery 1: Hacienda Araucano
Hacienda Araucano is one of the wineries of François Lurton, together with the ones in France, Spain and Argentina. The winery is named after Chile’s indigenous people. However, in Chile the winery is known as François Lurton because of the copyright of the name, since araucano is the name of a traditional liqueur.
The property is just beautiful, surrounded by hills and olive trees. The entire vineyard is managed with biodynamic practices, with the official biodynamic certificate from Demeter.
The composts for the biodynamic applications are prepared and kept in this small hut.
During the visit, we talked about two hot topics for the wineries in the whole valley, the energy and water consumption. Each winery has its own solution to these topics. Hacienda Araucano has chosen to invest in its own water collecting facility and solar energy production.
The winery is situated close to a small village called Lolól. Since this name took my attention and made me smile, I searched for the meaning of it. In Mapudungun, the language of Mapuche, “lo” is a prefix which means many, while “ló” means holes. Another explanation that I found gives a similar meaning: land of crabs and holes.
After the tour, we tasted their wines. First of all, we tasted Sauvignon Blanc 2017. This wine has its own style, and truly shows the climate that it comes from. And then, we tasted Humo Blanco Pinot Noir from 2015 and finally Clos de Lolól which is a blend of the varieties that grow in Lolól Valley; Carmenère, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Cabernet Franc.
François Lurton said if he was a vine, he would choose to be planted in Chile. I can see why François Lurton chose this place. Plants are happy here. Seeing all the thriving plants under biodynamic management here shows that.
Winery 2: Viña Santa Cruz
If you have only one chance to visit a winery in Colchagua Valley, that would be Viña Santa Cruz. A complete experience of enotourism awaits you there.
The winery is situated on the hill, so that gives them the opportunity to design a gravitational winery. It means the grape reception is on the upper floor, then the grapes go into the vats on the ground floor and finally end up in the barrel room situated underground.
The winery gives a lot of importance to their cultural roots as well as to the community and to nature. It’s certified as a sustainable winery since 2011.
We’ve made a tasting to try four of their wines. We’ve started with two wines from their Chamán series, Carménère and Malbec both from vintage 2016. Carménère was well made and showed all the expected characteristics, while Malbec had something special; it was courageous enough to show the left side of Andes. The third wine we tasted was Tu Pu, which is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot from vintage 2015. The wine took its name from Tu Pu which is a silver medallion symbolizing union and made by Mapuches, but its roots reach back to Incas.
The last wine was showcasing the Spanish varieties grown in the valley and this wine was the answer to this question. It’s a blend of Tempranillo and Garnacha from vintage 2016. This wine is called Make Make, which is the name of the creator of humanity in Rapa Nui (Easter Island) mythology. He’s also designed on the label.
After the tasting, we took the famous cable car that took us to Cerro Chaman. The view during climbing is amazing.
In Cerro Chaman, apart from the breathtaking view of the valley, there are also replicas of the indigenous villages in the Aymara, Mapuche and Rapa Nui cultures, which are also inspirations for the names of wines we tasted.
We ended this lovely day with a final look at the vineyard.
Winery 3: Clos Apalta
The visit to Clos Apalta started with an attention sign, since the llamas in the vineyard can go around freely and drivers should be careful about it.
Firstly, we went up to the terrace to see the view of Apalta Valley. It’s a sub-valley of Colchagua Valley, which is home for many famous Chilean wineries making premium wine. Clos Apalta is a winery from Lapostolle group.
In this winery, they are producing wine only from hand harvested grapes. As the grapes arrive at the winery, they are welcomed by a big team of women, who will separate each grain of grape from their stem, one by one.
After this important process, the grapes go directly to the oak vats in this modern French style winery. The winery design is impressive for winemakers; gravitational and the tanks are situated round leaving a huge space in the middle which make it easy to work and very efficient.
Following the oak vats, the wine flows directly to the first barrel room, and after aging for a determined period, to the second barrel room which is one floor down, where we made the wine tasting.
It was a pleasure to make a tasting in this atmosphere. We tasted Lapostolle Sauvignon Blanc from 2016, Lapostolle Cuvée Alexandre Merlot 2013 and Clos Apalta 2013. Clos Apalta 2013 is a blend based on Carménère and the other varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot. It’s a wine with a lot of potential; to open up during a red meat based dinner now or you can age it in your cellar for years.
Under the barrel room, there are stairs to reach the underground cellar where they store bottled wines. As well as the design of the winery, the building itself takes attention with its architecture. Some huge rocks that were discovered during the construction were kept as they are to show the characteristics of the place.
Winery 4: Neyen
In Mapudungun, Neyen means spirit, spirit of Apalta. Neyen winery produces only one wine, and only Cabernet Sauvignon and Carménère blend, and they respect their soil and the spirit by making it very well.
The walls of this house were built in 1890. It’s still standing thanks to the renovations done and nowadays it is used as a barrel room, visitor center and tasting room.
The vines of Carménère during the autumn are painted on the walls. Unfortunately, the building was partially damaged during the earthquake of 2010, and you can still see its marks.
We visited the winery and the barrel room before heading to the vineyards.
In the vineyard, they are keeping things very traditional. You can still see the pergolas as the training system in some of their plots.
Another traditional part is how they are irrigating the vines; they are using a surface irrigation system where you have natural watering channels, called furrow irrigation.
Neyen produces only one wine by blending Cabernet Sauvignon and Carménère, but the percentages of them in the blend changes every year depending on the characteristics of the fruit in that vintage, always aiming the best quality out of it. We’ve made a vertical tasting with their 3 vintages, 2011, 2012 and 2013. The philosophy of making wines which represents the millésime is to be appreciated, it gives you the opportunity to feel the expression of the terroir depending on the conditions of the vintage.
Winery 5: Viña Vik
Viña Vik is a winery in Millahue, a town which is located almost 70 kilometers far from Santa Cruz. When you arrive, you’ll find yourself surrounded by the vineyards and there’s a hill with a shiny building on the top. That’s the ultra luxurious hotel, Vik Chile. We made a small tour of the hotel before we drove down to find the winery.
The winery has a very special architecture where sustainability was the main concern. Thanks to the special roof design, there is no need to use any artificial light system, and thanks to the water running in the entrance, coming from the river, the temperature is maintained constant in the barrel room below.
We passed from the barrel room, had a look at the artwork on the walls and arrived at the tasting room.
The design of the tasting room is unique and especially the tables with the map of the property take attention, with the plated vineyards, varieties and rootstocks indicated with different colors.
We started the tasting with the samples directly from the barrels, three varieties that go to the blend of their wines; Cabernet Sauvignon, Carménère and Syrah. And then, we tasted two of their wines, La Piu Belle and Vik from 2012 vintage, they are both blends of the varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Carménère, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Franc in different percentages. La Piu Belle takes its unique and distinctive bottle design from the suite designed by Chilean designer Gonzalo Cienfuegos. The name La Piu Belle is a mix of languages and means the most beautiful, simply because the owner Alexandre Vik chose this bottle as the most beautiful one in the suite.
Finally, we finished the visit with a quick look at the vineyards which were planted in high density and met some grapes of the 2018 vintage.
Winery 6: Montes
It wouldn’t be fair to leave Colchagua Valley without visiting Montes. Unlike the other technical winery visits accompanied with the winemakers, in Montes we took a touristic tour which included a lovely trip on a safari truck to the vineyards. This is called the Angels tour.
Open air, breathtaking view of Apalta Valley and the history of Montes were the highlights of this trip on the truck.
After the vineyard visit, we arrived at the entrance door of the winery. The entrance way of the winery is accompanied by ancient vines of Cabernet Sauvignon.
One of the reasons why the design of Montes winery is special is because it’s incorporated with the principles of Feng Shui. To create a positive atmosphere thanks to this philosophy, they used all the prime elements; water, metal and wood around the winery.
The tour in the winery continued with a glass of Chardonnay of vintage 2016 from Central Valley to have a taste of the wine before anything else. After visiting the barrel room, we finished at the tasting room. We tried two wines from Outer Limits, which is a line of Montes with a different style than the classic Montes style. We tasted Wild Slopes which is a blend of Carignan, Grenache and Mourvedre from Colchagua Valley and then Old Roots which is 100% Cinsault from Itata Valley. We finished this tasting and the visit with their Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 which is a classic. It was an enjoyable tasting with different grapes, coming from different parts of the country which allows creating distinct characteristics.
The visit to Colchagua Valley brought our souls closer to nature. It’s worth discovering the place, tradition and people behind every single aroma we find the wine made in this magical part of the wine world.
All images © 2018 by Wines of Nesli. All rights reserved.