This past January, Paul and I had the wonderful pleasure of traveling to South America for a jam packed week full of wine, wine, and more wine. And yes, you read that right - this has been three years in the making! Initially planned for spring of 2020, the trip was unfortunately postponed due to the pandemic, but our excitement never wavered as it would be our first time traveling to South America.
Back in 2018, Paul caught the traveling bug and spent the next two years visiting wine regions he has dreamt about exploring since entering the industry in 2006 including Tuscany, Bordeaux, and the Languedoc. At the start of 2020, he made it a point to offer these same opportunities to his staff to help broaden our perspectives and take part in an aspect of the industry that many of us have yet to experience. I was just the lucky one who got to go first! In this three part series, we are excited to share all the delicious wine we discovered plus give you a little inside peek into how these wine trips run. So buckle up and prepare for takeoff because today we are off to Chile!
After an easy-breezy 10 hour flight we arrived in Santiago, Chile where we were met with beautiful views of the nearby mountains and our friendly driver Miguel who drove us 75 miles south to Matetic Vineyards in the Rosario Valley, our first stop of the trip.
Situated between the Pacific Ocean and the hills of the Coastal Mountains, Matetic is a beautiful 470 acre organically-farmed estate that uniquely resides in two Denominations of Origin - the northern part of the property residing in Casablanca Valley DO and the southern part in Antonio Valley DO. Just six miles from the ocean, the area is a prime wine growing region that greatly benefits from cool nights, morning fog, and afternoon coastal breezes. These conditions allow grapes to slowly ripen producing wines with fresh acidity and intense flavors.
A real highlight of our first day at Matetic, besides the wine of course, was the biodynamic tour led by Justin. It’s one thing to read about the initiatives wineries are taking in terms of sustainability. It’s another to see it live in action. The Matetic team is serious about sustainability embracing both organic and biodynamic practices in their vineyards and winery including:
- recycling water and food waste
- fostering biodiversity on the property
- consciously reducing their energy consumption
- zero use of chemicals and pesticides
- and partnering with sustainably focused companies for their bottle and box packaging
Since their establishment in 1999, Matetic has embraced organic and biodynamic agriculture as a way of crafting wines with a real sense of place. Over the years they have earned numerous certifications that have propelled them forward in their commitment to both the environment and their local community.
The winery was gracious enough to host us for two nights at their quaint 10-room hotel right on site. Each room was aptly named after a wine varietal and, after a random selection, we were put up in the Pinot Noir and Malbec rooms. It was lovely to wake up in the morning (or from a quick afternoon nap), walk out onto the terrace, and immediately be greeted by wonderful views of the vineyard. The entire staff was extremely welcoming and pulled out all the stops when it came to luxurious breakfast buffets, three course dinners, and mixing up some classic pisco sours during happy hour!
Staying directly on the property gave us the luxury of soaking in some sun at Matetic's outdoor swimming pool. With the temperature being a prime 80º Fahrenheit, it was the perfect place to unwind and relax before heading to dinner and drinks at the winery’s restaurant. We were fed so well everywhere we went this trip that we easily gained 10 pounds from all the delicious food! And of course, we had to enjoy a glass or two of wine… okay, maybe it was three with our new friends including Jason and Tim (pictured with Paul below).
On our second day at Matetic, we received a vineyard and wine cellar tour from head winemaker, Julio Bastias, and oenologist, Carlos Rojas. Their modern wine cellar was built in 2004 and has the capacity to hold 600 thousand liters of wine. The cellar has three underground rooms that store nearly 1800 barrels in which the wines are aged for 18-22 months. Along with the tour, we were treated to a full portfolio tasting of their two lines: Corralillo and EQ.
With a major focus on terroir and tradition, Matetic's Corralillo line, meaning “little farmyard”, was named in honor of a very old wine cellar of the same name that used to be in El Rosario Valley. The wines are made in a fresh and juicy style with a focus on pure fruit notes and minerality.
Coming from the Spanish word "Equilibrio", Matetic's EQ line represents the winery's commitment to the environment and are known for their keen balance, elegance, and nuanced flavors.
After our tasting of Matetic’s full lineup, it was obvious what the stars of the show were - their terroir and quality-driven whites! The Corralillo Sauvignon Blanc was an instant standout for us due to its easy-drinking and food-friendly nature. Leaning more towards the herbaceous side in comparison to the EQ Sauvignon Blanc, the Corralillo offers juicy citrus and salinity on the backend followed by a clean and refreshing finish. Immensely food-friendly, this will be a delight paired alongside garden salads, oysters, clam chowder, or goat cheese. An ideal summer wine, no doubt!
Stay tuned for the next installment next week where we head off to Mendoza, Argentina!