Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Chile - Part II

On now to my Santiago, Chile report. Santiago easily has the most beautiful backdrop of any city I've ever been in. The city itself is quite flat and so from pretty much anywhere, you get stunning views of the Andes Mountains. Unfortunately, it was quite cloudy/hazy while we were there, but the views were incredible just the same.

Santiago has a lot of beautiful historic buildings all within walking distance of one another.

Below is the Cathedral at Plaza de Armas.
We weren't sure we would be able to go inside the cathedral. The gates were all locked and there was a huge police presence in the plaza. Turns out they were anticipating protests by the country's secondary school students that day. There is a huge push for education reform right now, and there have been lots of demonstrations and protests, some of them turning violent. We spoke to a guard and he let us in, locking the gate behind us. It was huge and gorgeous inside.

Below is the Palacio. Normally, you can walk right through it, but we were stopped by heavily armed police and informed tourists weren't allowed that day. I think it had to do with the expected protests too.
We love all the old churches in the South American countries. They are always so beautiful.
Here we are outside of an old train station that has been restored and turned into an event hall.
Besides the skiing, the other thing about Chile that we totally fell in love with was the wine. Oh, the wonderful wine! We both enjoy a glass of wine with supper or in the evenings before bed quite regularly. We are by no means wine snobs though. We can appreciate everything from a dry Cabernet Sauvignon with supper to a super sweet Moscato for a little nightcap, but I can't take a sniff and tell you what year and country my wine is from. I will tell you this though: Chile had the best dadgum wine I've ever tasted. (And yes, I'm certain that's the exact wording the wine connoisseurs would use to describe it too.) And you didn't even have to buy the really expensive stuff to get something fabulous.

There is a plethora of wineries in the Santiago area, so we decided to go take a tour and do a little tasting one afternoon. We went to Santa Carolina who also bottles Casablanca wines as well. They export a lot to the USA and Brasil. So next time you are at the wine store, please go to the Chile wine section and find something of theirs. I promise you won't be disappointed!

The winery was built back in the 1800's and is absolutely gorgeous. This picture is in the courtyard in the middle of the original house. They house all their offices here now.

The wine cellar where they are aging wines in the barrels. It smelled so fabulous down there.

And on to my favorite part: the tasting room! We tried a Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, a Chardonnay, a wonderful Reserve Carmenere (which was totally new to us, but we both loved), and I had to try their 100% Chardonnay Champagne ('cause I'm a bubbly kinda girl.)

We ended up making a few purchases to bring back with us. But then we ended up drinking two of the bottles at the B&B over the next couple of days before we left. One was a late harvest Sauvignon Blanc that was the yummiest sweet wine I've ever had.

All I'm saying is that if you can't get down to Chile, at least go buy some Chilean wine. And by the way, about the whole drinking reds at room temperature thing . . . they served it at 17 degrees C (62 F). (Which I'm sure the real wine people know to do, but it was new to me.) It is much better with a little chill to it. Give it a try!

When we weren't attached to the tasting room at a local winery, we did some other sight-seeing as well. We went up a big hill in the middle of the city called Cerro San Cristobal. There is a little trolley that takes you up and down the hillside, along with cable cars. We rode them all to get views all the way around! Below is the trolley.

The view from the top was magnificent! (Although the pictures would have been more impressive on a clear day, you can still see the snow-topped Andes rising high above the city!)

I'll finish up Chile in my next post about our day trip over to Viña del Mar and Valparaíso.


Bru said...

Emily, they fooled you in that wine tasting place. Champagne exists only in France! I'll explain: there is a region in France called "Champagne-Ardenne"(where I went for an internship) where they grow grapes destined to making champagne. There's one little detail: the planting ans harvesting is extremely controlled, you have production quotas and you need authorizations even to replace a dead "grape-tree". Result: one hectare of "grape-planting" land costs 1 MILLION EUROS. Yes. That's why the French, real one is so expensive. Anyway, the point is that no other place in the world, BY LAW, can call their beverages champagne, other than people who make champagne in that region (and they have hundreds of lawsuits going on because of that). It doesn't matter if it's the same variety of grape and the same chemical process. That would be a wine made "à la mode champenoise" and not a Champagne. Also, they're never going to have the same taste. It's like Coke and Pepsi hehehe ;)
And that's all, just thought I would share, since I didn't know that either and people in Brazil also keep fooling us with their bubbling wines that are not Champagne (but cost as if they were!)!!!

Emily said...

Bru, I love it when my readers make me smarter! Thanks for the info; I had no idea! Just to let the winery off the hook, I am pretty sure I'm the one who called it champagne. They called it sparkling wine or something another in Spanish, and I thought it was so strange that they wouldn't just call it champagne. They were right, I was wrong. (I hate it when that happens!) But with this new information, I am well on my way to one day being a total wine snob. YEA! ;)