Just 45 minutes from Santiago is Concha y Toro’s Casillero del Diablo(cellar of the devil) winery. It is one of Chile’s most historic wineries, and the cafe and tasting room make it a delicious jumping off point to Chile’s Valle Central wine-growing region. On wine labels, you are likely to see the names of top subzones such as Maipo, Colchagua and Curico, which are famous for growing Chile’s best reds from the cabernet sauvignon and carmenere grapes. The cabs can be every bit as elegant and powerful as their counterparts in Bordeaux and California, often at a fraction of the price. And the carmenere, with its spicy-meaty-savory notes, is a truly distinctive red that’s irresistible with hearty dishes like stews and rich cheeses.
What about whites? Chile has that covered in the Casablanca district. Sandwiched between Santiago and Chile’s gorgeous Pacific coastline, it gets cooled by oceanbreezes, making it the perfect home for growing lively, zingy, passion fruit-scented sauvignon blancs that are the best white wine deals going right now.
Fori the foodie and wine buff, it’s no exaggeration to say that Sonoma could be called heaven. l can think of no other place where you can find local, world-class examples of every possible wine style-and the artisanal food to go with them.
The reason is the county’s incredible climate and geographical diversity. For example, near the seacoast, ocean breezes create the cool climate needed to grow amazing chardonnay whites along with pinot noir reds that are every bit as good as French Burgundy. Look for the subregions of either Sonoma Coast or the Russian River Valley on the label, and you’ll know you’re in the right place. Away from the coast, there are sun-soaked valleys with ripe and juicy chardonnays, sauvignon blancs and merlots that are often labeled as Sonoma County and typically budget-friendly. The Dry Creek Valley and Alexander Valley subregions serve up wind-whipped hillside vineyards and pleateaus so rocky and rugged you’de thinl no vine would want call them home, yet, big zins and cabernets thrive there. For a sensory experience of wine and food, visit Kendall-Jackson’s estate in Santa Rosa. For a taste of history and excellent pinot noirs, visit Buena Vista, California’s oldest winery, in the town of Sonoma.