Going wine tasting at Montes and Lapostelle, two of the best vineyards in the Colchagua Valley
I was onto my third glass of wine in barely an hour, the beginnings of a drunken grin starting to spread across my face. Our guide was explaining the difference between a Malbec and a mixed blend, at how there should be a slight difference in colour when you swirl it around the glass, though by that point I was struggling at that seemingly simple task, wine sloshing from side to side before I finally drained the last drops away.
“Okay, so we’ve now finished our wine tasting session for the day. If you follow me I’ll take you to your table where you’ll be having your lunch. It’s out in the vineyards so I think you’ll like it. A lot.”
Somehow I felt the wine tasting session was just the warm up act of great things to come from Lapostolle, the vineyard where we were learning all about wine in the best possible way.
I was in the Colchagua Valley, the award winning wine region of Chile just three hours south of Santiago.
In terms of producing wines that gain world class recognition, the Colchagua Valley has slipped under the radar somewhat, yet it has some of the best wineries I’ve ever come across.
Far from being a wine expert, I have been wine tasting all over the world, and I was so surprised at the level of wine Chile was producing. The quality really is sky high here, yet the bottles are at a fraction of the cost elsewhere in the world. This means you can have fun here. Like a lot of fun.
The first vineyard we visited was at Montes, a beautiful place nestled at the bottom of the mountains in the Colchagua Valley.
They first started producing wine at Montes in 1988, and it was a little over a decade before they were named wine maker of the year in 1999.
One of the first things that took me back about Montes was the architecture. The building here really is something else, and the concept of Feng Shui runs throughout the entire building, both inside and outside. At Montes they don’t want the experience to be just about the wine, but about the whole sensory feeling.
Sebastian, our guide for the afternoon, taught us the history of Montes before going through the wine making process here.
One thing I really liked was in the barrel room where they played Gregorian chanting to the wine as it matures. Their reason is music excites the molecules in the wine, added to the overall flavour. Whether that’s true is by the by, because when you walk into the barrel room and hear to music it instantly puts a smile on your face.
After being shown around the buildings and the barrel room, we went off into one of the side rooms to taste some of the wines that they produce here at Montes.
First we had a white (2015 Sauvignon Blanc) followed by three reds (2012 Malbec, 2011 Shiraz and a 2010 Carménère) with Sebastian going through each of the flavours we were tasting.
At the end of it Sebastian said: “So, which one was your favourite?”
None of us could agree, to which Sebastian smiled and commented: “That’s what I love about wine tasting. It doesn’t matter which one is consider the ‘best’ or which one is the most expensive, it’s the one which you like the most that matters.” I liked that.
The next day we went to Lapostolle, one of the largest and most famous vineyards in Santa Cruz.
Like Montes, Lapostolle was also tucked away in the Colchagua Valley, the buildings blending into the surrounding mountains.
At Lapostolle, like with most other vineyards in Chile, they export 90% of the wine that they produce here. When you think they produce up to 200,000 bottles a season, that’s a huge number that they’re exporting around the world.
Lapostolle was founded by Alexandra Marnier Lapostolle (of Grand Marnier fame) in 1994, and since then they have become a forced to be reckoned with in the world of wine.
We arrived at 10am and were met by Diego, our guide for the day, who first took us down to their small organic vegetable garden where they grow all their own vegetables for the restaurant (which is completely organic and carbon neutral).
From there we were shown around the buildings of Lapostolle. Running through the middle of the main building going deeper and deeper into the ground is a spiral staircase, and on each floor they have a different room with the barrel room at the bottom.
It was here that we went wine tasting.
With three wines to taste (2014 Sauvignon Blanc, a 2013 Merlot and a 2012 Clos Apalta), it was what was under the tasting table that stole our attention.
Underneath the tasting table was a staircase down to a secret wine cellar, more of a personal collection than anything else with the wines going back 30 years. It was funny to think this was below our feet all along and we had no idea.
Once we finished our wine tasting at Lapostolle there was only one thing left for us to do – have lunch.
We were taken out into the vineyards where there was an old farm house, now converted into a kitchen, where we had the views of all the vines surrounding us, and you really couldn’t ask for a more stunning setting to have lunch.
Having a delicious three course meal in a place as beautiful as the Colchagua Valley really was the perfect way to end the day at Lapostolle.
In Montes and Lapostolle, the Colchagua Valley has two of the best wineries I’ve ever some across, not just for the wine, but for the overall experience – the architecture, the history of the area, and of course the beautiful surroundings.
There’s a reason why wine tasting is the number one activity to do in the Colchagua Valley, and you can’t visit this part of the world without trying a few glasses (or bottles!) of wine.
A wine tour at Montes costs £16 ($21) for a tour of the vineyard and a taste of four wines. For £35 ($46) you can upgrade to the premium wine tour, and for $35,000 you can have lunch there. Also, a real nice touch by Montes, in the summer you can enjoy a picnic (food and a bottle of wine) for £22 ($29) – £27 ($36) in the vineyards.
A wine tour at Lapostolle costs £23 ($30) for a tour of the vineyard a taste of three wines. For lunch (a three course meal) plus wine pairings costs £46 ($60) and for £69 ($90) you can get the premium wine pairing.