Friday, January 11, 2008

Day 7

Day 7  January 10, 2004


This morning it was cloudy and cool, a storm  blew in from the ocean 100 miles to the west.  We packed our bags, went for a long walk, and drove north on Ruta 5 back towards San Fernando.  We had to fill the gas tank and it cost $60, even more expensive than home prices.  The clouds lifted as we pulled into the Concha y Toro vineyard.  This was about 5 K before Santa Cruz and it was vast.  There was no tasting room, but we went to the office and met a nice young lady who only spoke Spanish.  She gave us an explanation and some brochures.  This entire vineyard is now organic and they are planning to ship the product to Europe and the US where people are willing to pay high prices for organic wine.  She did not offer a taste and so we drove on to the next big operation,  the Viu Manent.  This was a beautiful old set of buildings.  We had a great tasting with a New Zealander as a guide.  Took some sweet photos of the large bunches of grapes hanging heavy from the seven foot high trellis.  Enjoyed the malbec most but the carmenere was also very good.

     Next we got directions and drove west another 6 K to the Montes Alpha and Casa Lapostelle vineyards in the Apalta Valley.  Wow, this is heaven for wine lovers.  The most beautiful vineyards I have ever seen.  No tasting today, as there are so few tourists here…we are at the end of the earth, even according to the Chileans…they said if we come back at 11 or 4 tomorrow they will have an organized tour.  So we returned to town and had a wonderful lunch at PanPanVinoVino, an excellent restaurant in a converted, ancient bakery.  The photos will show how beautiful it was.

     Finally we drove north another 30 K to the Hacienda Los Lingues, a 400 year old ranch that was given as a gift by the King of Spain to his then military governer of Chile.  It is still in the same family and is a member of the prestigious Chateau et Relais group of luxury, historic hotels.  We are sleeping tonight in a bedroom of the children of the Governor of Chile.  Surrounded by gardens, orchards, vineyards, horse pastures, riding arenas, it is vast, stretching across a huge and verdant valley. This afternoon we watched a horsemanship demonstration by a gaucho and sat by the pool. Tonight we and the other six guests (yes, that's correct, there are 8 of us here enjoying this opulent hacienda) will be dining on a set menu that features Eel in a spinach and lime sauce as the main course.  Congrio, or Conger Eel, is a delicacy in Chile and we have never been brave enough to order it, but there is no alternative tonight so we will let you know how it tastes.  The other courses of the meal are mushroom quiche, rose sorbet and pumpkin cream soup.  Dessert is lime spumoni ice cream with chocolate sauce.  Sounds good. They serve dinner in the garden at 9 (some places do not serve until 10).  It is good to be flexible.

     We are both reading novels about Chile, thanks to the kids who gave us some excellent Christmas reading material.  Enjoy the photos.

PS.  The eel was delicious, a firm white fish wrapped into a spiral with caviar on top. Very good to take a few chances in life.


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