A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 486: Chile

Monday, March 3: Arrived in Santiago at 1 pm, an hour late. Our group is three Quebeckers – Karyne (who is pregnant), Thea and Raymond from Montreal and Kurtis from Vancouver. Our host is San Pedro represented by Morela Mendez, a Venezuelan of Italian extraction. We are bussed to our hotel, NOI, drop our bags and head to Vitacura for a tour and tasting of Altaïr wines conducted by winemaker Marco Puyo.

Altaïr winery

Altair’s winemaker Marco Puyo

  • Altaïr Sideral 2009 (75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Syrah, 10% Carmenère, 2% Petit Verdot, 1% Petite Sirah): deep ruby colour; peppery, blackcurrant, vanilla oak with a cedary note; medium to full-bodied; elegant, richly extracted, black fruits, coffee bean and chocolate flavours with lively acidity, a floral note and cushiony tannins. (91)
  • Altaïr Sideral 2010 (45 % Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Syrah, 16% Carmenère, 3% Petit Verdot, 2% Petite Sirah): dense purple colour; more vegetal on the nose than the 2009 (Carmenère influence) but nice florality; dry, full on the palate, firm structure, more minerality and evident tannins. Lean and tighter than 2009 but better structure and will cellar well. (91–92)
  • Cabo de Hornos 2009 (61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Syrah, 21% Malbec): dense ruby colour; floral, blackcurrant, vanilla oak nose; richly extracted, sweet blackcurrant fruit with a thread of minerality and tannin. Firm tannic finish, good acidity. (90)
  • Cabo de Hornos 2010 (84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Syrah, 12% Malbec): dense purple colour; spicy red and black fruits on the nose; rich mouth feel, plum, black cherry and blackcurrant flavours with balancing acidity and well integrated oak. Succulent fruit that starts sweet and evolves into a savoury finish. (93)
  • Altaïr 2009 (79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Syrah, 6% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petit Verdot, 2% Carmenère): lilac, blackberries with a savoury, herbal note; richly extracted, sweet fruit, dark chocolate with powdery cocoa powder-like tannins. Well balanced with a blunt tannic finish. (89)
  • Altaïr 2010 (76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Syrah, 7% Carmenère, 4% Petit Verdot): dense purple-ruby colour; smoky, tar nose; acidity carries the flavours of red and blackcurrant berry fruit, very elegant, licorice notes. Firm tannic finish. (92)
  • San Pedro Tierras Moradas Carmenère 2009: dense ruby that stains the glass; spicy black cherry, cedar; spicy blackcurrant, lively acidity with shaping tannins. (89)
  • San Pedro Tierras Moradas Carmenère 2010: dense ruby-purple colour; leafy blackcurrant nose; firmly structured, beautifully balanced, more restrained than the 2009 but beautifully balanced cassis and spicy notes; great structure. (92+)
  • San Pedro Kankana del Elqui Syrah 2009: dense purple-black colour; smoky, meaty, iodine and roasted herbs on the nose; dry, savoury, full on the palate with a real flavour of Northern Rhône Syrah, smoky black olive, raspberry and cherry flavours. Great length. (93)
  • San Pedro Kankana del Elqui Syrah 2010: dense purple colour; white pepper, smoky, meaty, blackberry nose with a floral note; ripe and rich, dry and savoury; lively acidity. Still tight. (91)
  • San Pedro Kankana del Elqui Syrah 2013 from barrel: (going to be as good if not better than the 2009).

Tuesday, March 4: This morning at 7:51 am a 5.4 earthquake centred in San Antonio. I was in the shower at the time and didn’t notice it! In the earthquake in 2010, Morela told me, Tarapaca (we visit the winery tomorrow in Isla de Maipo) lost 3.3 million litres of wine. The walls of the tasting room are still wine-stained for five inches from the floor. Ed Flaherty, whom I first met at Errazuriz in the 1990s, is the winemaker here.

Tarapaca’s winemaker Ed Flaherty

Morela Mendez with Tarapaca Gran Reserva Etiqueta Azul 2011

  • Tarapaca Sauvignon Blanc Gran Reserva 2013 (Leyda): 10% barrel fermented. Straw with a greenish tint; fresh, elderberry and gooseberry nose; crisply dry, grapefruit, lemon grass, minerally-flinty, salty note with great acidity. (90)
  • Tarapaca Chardonnay Gran Reserva 2013 (Leyda): 80% barrel fermented; golden straw with a green tint; mineral, pear, light oak influence; spicy, pear and green pineapple flavours; full on the palate with great length, well balanced. (90)
  • Tarapaca Pinot Noir Gran Reserva 2012 (Leyda): dense ruby colour; leather, pencil lead, black cherry nose with a floral top note; ripe fruit, lively acidity, evident alcohol. A little short on finish. Evident tannin. (88)
  • Tarapaca Syrah Gran Reserva 2011 (Maipo): dense purple-black; a savoury, blackberry, herbal nose with a creamy note; full-bodied, dry, earthy, blackberry with toasted herb flavours; firmly structured. (90)
  • Tarapaca Carmenère Gran Reserva 2012 (Maipo): 7% Syrah; dense purple-black colour; leafy, green tea, blackcurrant nose, vanilla oak; green vegetable note melded with blackcurrant, firm structure, dry finish. (89)
  • Tarapaca Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (Maipo) (19 different vineyard sites – with 5% Syrah and 5% Merlot and Carmenère): dense purple-black colour; pencil lead, blackcurrant, floral note; succulent blackcurrant fruit, firmly structured. Needs time. (89–91)
  • Tarapaca Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon Etiqueta Negra 2011 (Maipo): 10% Cabernet Franc. French and American oak. Dense ruby, vanilla, dark chocolate, black fruit nose; richly extracted, ripe fruit, still confined in tannins but rich enough for future expression. (90–92)
  • Tarapaca Gran Reserva Etiqueta Azul 2011 (Maipo) (2nd vintage – 38% Cabernet Franc, 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Syrah): dense purple-black colour; minerally, black cherry, vanilla oak nose; well structured, lovely mouth feel, tannic finish. Needs time but will develop beautifully. (91–93)

Tarapaca’s outdoor toilets: men left, ladies right

Lunch at the Tarapaca guest house: Appetizers – Shrimps sautéed in garlic with vegetables spaghetti, merquén corn soup with toasted flour, wild mushroom risotto balls with luche (sea weed) mayonnaise, served with Tarapaca Pinot Noir Reserva 2012 (Leyda): light purple colour, floral, cherry and vanilla oak nose; medium-bodied, ripe fruit, carries its 14.5% alcohol very well, nicely structured. (89)

First course; Beans and sea food, with Tarapaca 1865 Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Leyda): pale straw colour; grassy, grapefruit nose; very crisp, gooseberry and grapefruit flavours. (89). Squid stuffed with charquican (potato and vegetables), with Tarapakay 2010. The name means “hidden tree.” 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Syrah. Dense purple colour; spicy, cedar and black fruit nose with vanilla oak, floral and tobacco notes; full-bodied, sweet fruit with dark chocolate flavours, beautifully balanced; carries its 15% alcohol, rich mid palate fruit and the Syrah sings through. (93)

Tarapaca’s flagship red wine

Main courses: Oda al Caldillo de Pablo Neruda (traditional fish soup with a poem by Pablo Naruda printed on potato pasta in squid ink), with Tarapaca Gran Reserva Chardonnay 2013 (Leyda). Short ribs wrapped in Swiss chard with corn puree and barley stew, with San Pedro 1865 Cabernet Sauvignon 2011.

Desserts: The Egg (looks like a hardboiled egg with some shell still on it but it’s made of panacotta with almond essence and a “yolk” of mango puree and “shell” pieces of meringue); an Coconut Cork (shaped like a wine cork) with borgoña and strawberry compote, with San Pedro Epica 2012.

The “egg” dessert

While the others went for a horse ride around the vineyard, Karyne and I slipped away for a visit to De Martino for a brief tour and tasting. Marco De Martino showed us his amphorae cellar before we sat down to taste. He has collected 156 amphorae from farmers as fermentation vessels, using Cinsault, Muscat and Carignane from Itata, the oldest wine region in Chile. During ageing the tops are sealed with adobe mud. De Martino uses no new oak; they pick early and ferment in foudres of Austrian oak.

De Martino’s amphorae

  • De Martino Quebrada Seca Chardonnay 2012: straw colour; minerally, toasty, pineapple nose; full-bodied, dry, mouth-filling spicy, green pineapple flavour. (90)
  • De Martino Sauvignon Blanc Parcela 5 2011 (Casablanca): straw colour; minerally, grapefruit nose; tart, elderberry, gooseberry and green melon flavours with lively acidity. (91)
  • De Martino Viejas Tinagas Cinsault 2013: deep purple colour; herbal-floral blackberry nose; spicy and fresh, white pepper and sour cherry flavours, medium-bodied. Like a Beaujolais on steroids. (88)
  • De Martino Limavida 2011 (an old vine field blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and Carmenère planted in the early 1950s and dry farmed): dense purple colour; inky, blackberry and lead pencil nose; dry and fresh on the palate, fruity with lively acidity finishing with shaping tannins. (90)
  • De Martino Syrah Alto Los Toros 2011 (Elqui Valley – with 15% Petit Verdot): dense ruby colour; savoury, herbal blackberry and tobacco nose with vanilla oak; elegant, licorice and blackberry flavours, lovely fruit with lively acidity. (91)
  • De Martino Viejas Tinajas Muscat 2012 (Itata): hazy, golden straw colour; honeyed cardamom and orange blossom nose; fresh, floral, intense clove and orange peel flavours finishing dry with a firm tannic structure. (89)
  • De Martino Gallardia del Itata Muscat 2012: light, dry, fresh and elegant. (89)
  • De Martino Viejas Tinajas Especial 2012 (Maule – 80% Carignane and Cinsault): dense purple colour; medicinal, blackberry nose; mouth-filling, peppery, black fruits, lovely mouth feel with evident tannins. Rustic. (89)

Back at Tarapaca’s guest house a Pisco tasting had been set up by Claudia Olmedo, “the only Pisco sommelier in Chile.” She informed us that Columbus’s second voyage to the Americas brought vines to Peru, Chile and Bolivia. In brief she said: “Pisco is a spirit distilled from the wine in northern Chile. 1850, the first varietals arrived from France. In that year the Pisco name emerged. In 1931 Pisco was denominated. In 1936 Pisco Elqui was denominated. Varieties used: Moscatel of Alexandria, Moscatel Rosada, Torontel, Moscatel de Austria, and Pedro Jimenez. All Piscos are a blend. They have to be bottled in the zone. Only 10,000 hectares of grapes for Pisco in Chile. Distillation must finish by January 31st. 10 kilos of grapes produce I litre of Pisco. Pisco is up to 34% alcohol is called Traditional; 35% is Especial, 40% Reservado and 43%–50% Gran Pisco.”

  • Pisco Control Original: clear, clean with spicy, anise; lemon zest. Smooth on the palate.
  • Pisco Tres Erres: very pale straw; spicy, banana and almond flavours, alcoholic finish.
  • Pisco Mistral (6 months in American oak): pale amber colour; leather, spicy, sweet vanilla, clove, elegant.
  • Pisco Mistral Gran Nobel Reservada Privada: deep amber colour; spicy, oaky, Cognac-like, caramel, smoky, dried orange skin, chocolate, pencil lead, great length.

Dinner: Salmon tartar with Tarapaca Sauvignon Blanc Gran Reserva 2013 followed by pork loin, spicy potato and zucchini, with Tarapaca Gran Reserva Merlot 2012 (7% Syrah): dense ruby colour; creamy blueberry and blackcurrant nose; rich and full on the palate, big and bold, soft mouth-feel with feathery tannins. (89). Dessert Crème Carmel cake with Tarapaca Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc Gewurztraminer Terroir 2012: medium-bodied, semi-sweet, spicy lychee flavour (89).

Wednesday, March 5: Awakened at 1:45 am by a tremor. Turned out to be a 5.4 earthquake centred in San Antonio. Went back to sleep like a good Chilean. After breakfast we left for a two-and-a-half-hour drive to San Pedro’s Castilla de Molina. En route I got an email from my wife telling me that Annabel had had her baby. A boy! ‘Bel sent me a photo.

After checking into our rooms we were served a glass of Viñamar Brut to celebrate my becoming a grandfather. Then a tasting in the 1865 cellar with winemaker Miguel Rencoret.

The sparkling wine toast to my grandson Declan Rowan

San Pedro’s winemaker Miguel Rencoret

San Pedro’s 1865 cellar

  • San Pedro Cabernet Sauvignon 35 South Reserva 2013 (Central Valley): ruby colour; cedar, red and blackcurrant nose; dry, medium-bodied, claret style, nicely balanced, floral, berry-driven with ripe tannins. Warm alcoholic finish. (88)
  • San Pedro Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 35 South Reserva 2012 (Central Valley, 60/40): ruby colour; cedar, blackcurrant, vanilla, spicy nose; soft mouth-feel, floral, redcurrant and blueberry flavours, soft finish. (87)
  • San Pedro Epica 2012 (Central Valley – 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Carmenère, 5% Syrah; 12 grams residual sugar): deep ruby; sweet, vanilla, cedar, cherry and blackcurrant nose; off-dry, soft, medium-bodied, easy drinking with enough tannin to give it shape. (87)
  • San Pedro 1865 Malbec 2011 (Maule): deep ruby colour; rose petal, pencil lead, red berry nose; lean and sinewy, sweet fruit with a firm tannic finish. Well integrated oak. (88+)
  • San Pedro 1865 Carmenère 2011 (Maule): deep ruby colour; green pepper, blackcurrant, vanilla oak nose; creamy, blackcurrant, sweet fruit with good acidity and round tannins. Soft mouth feel. (88)
  • San Pedro 1865 Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (Maipo Valley): deep ruby colour; cedar, vanilla oak, redcurrant; medium-bodied, lean, sinewy, tannic, some green flavours. Lacks mid-palate fruit. (86)
  • San Pedro 1865 Cabernet-Syrah 2011 Limited Edition (Cachapoal Valley): dense ruby-purple; iodine, blackberry nose; dry, savoury, blackberry, black olive flavours; firm tannic finish. Needs time. (89)
  • San Pedro 1865 Syrah 2011 (Cachapoal): deep ruby colour; cedar, herbal, peppery, meaty nose; sweet, spicy, ripe blackberry, great structure, good mouth-feel; full-bodied with blackcurrant and rose petal flavours, well integrated oak. (89)

Sunset in Molina

A sunset aperitif on the terrace with San Pedro 1865 Sauvignon Blanc and a meat and potato-filled empanada the size of half a dinner plate. A dance troupe performed Chile’s national dance, the cueca, and invited us to join in. Dinner followed: steak, chicken, chorizo sausage with spinach salad, boiled potatoes and fresh tomatoes with Kankana del Elqui Syrah 2010, followed by Kankana del Elqui Syrah 2008 (dense purple colour; rose petal, iodine, vanilla oak, pepper nose; dry and savoury, elegant, soy and plum flavours (92)).

Chile’s national dance, la cueca

Thursday, March 6: After breakfast, bussed to a 40-year-old block of Sauvignon Blanc in San Pedro’s 1100-hectare vineyard (the largest single-surface vineyard in South America). The block of vines was planted in parron style; the clusters hang from a pergola at head height, making then easy to cut. We amused the harvesters as we tried our hand at picking, filling 15-kilo plastic buckets. This method of growing, usually for table grapes, yields 25 tons per hectare.

Sauvignon Blanc harvesters take a break

Went to Pencahue in the middle of the Maule Valley to see San Pedro’s 1865 Carmenère vineyard. The vineyard as a whole stretches over 700 hectares. Here there is a special purple soil, coloured by the zinc and titanium, which makes the ground look wine-stained. Back to San Pedro’s guest house for lunch: mushroom ceviche; celery, green apple, walnut and avocado salad; chicken stuffed with spinach and wheat berry risotto, with Castillo de Molina Sauvignon Blanc 2013 and Castillo de Molina Pinot Noir 2011. Desert: a pudding made from dried peaches, wheat berry and honey.

After lunch, drove back to Santiago and checked in again at the NOI Hotel. Time to catch up on emails and then we all went for a drink and some appetizers to Mestizo, a restaurant bar with its own little park and lagoon in the heart of Santiago. A bottle of Tabali Sauvignon Blanc 2013 with three types of ceviche, empanadas and dips, one beef and one corn and cheese.

Tallest building in South America (right)

Then on to dinner at Happening Restaurant for an Argentinian meat meal, but first a tasting of La Celia wines from Argentina led by its winemaker, Sebastian Ruiz. On the way to the restaurant a pedestrian stepped out into the road and our bus had to swerve madly to avoid him. Karyne, who is pregnant with Alice, came up with the best line of the trip: “We nearly had another girl in the bus!”

La Celia in the Ugo Valley was founded in 1890. The owner, Eugenio Bustos, sold horses to France. Instead of paying him they sent Malbec vines. He named his winery after his daughter, Celia. Today they have 450 hectares, 350 of them planted to Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Chardonnay.

  • Tamari Reserva Malbec 2012: deep purple-ruby colour; spicy, plum and black fruit nose; chunky mouth feel; dry, fruity, good acidity with moderate length. (87)
  • Tamari AR Malbec 2012: dense purple-ruby colour; minerally, fruitcake nose with notes of violets and evident oak; full-bodied, sweet blackberry and chocolate flavours with lively acidity. Well extracted fruit with a firm tannic finish. (88)
  • La Celia Cabernet Franc Pioneer Reserva 2012: deep ruby colour; pencil lead, vanilla oak nose, spicy blackcurrant; full-bodied, fruity, lively acidity. Tight, green tannins, needs time. (88–89)
  • La Celia Malbec Pioneer Reserva 2012: dense purple colour; orange zest, white pepper, black cherry and plum nose; full-bodied, richly extracted plum and black fruits, ripe tannin. Dry with good length. (89)
  • La Celia Elite Malbec 2012: dense purple colour; creamy, unctuous, black cherry, vanilla with an oily note; sweet fruit, full-bodied, dark chocolate, lively acidity with melting tannins; rich and full on the plate. (89–90)
  • La Celia Heritage Malbec 2011: dense purple colour; lifted blackcurrant and orange peel nose with spicy, cinnamon and floral notes; richly extracted fruit, velvety mouth feel; inky and firmly structured with ripe tannins. (90)
  • La Celia Supremo 2011 (16 months in new and one-year-old oak): dense purple-black that stains the glass; plums, dates, vanilla oak, spicy with a floral top note; richly extracted, full-bodied, sweet fruit; well balanced, firmly structured with lively acidity and firm tannins. (91)

La Celia’s winemaker Sebastian Ruiz

Dinner: spicy sausage and baked cheese, the four different cuts of grilled beef, mushrooms and salad.

Friday, March 7: After breakfast, bussed to Leyda for a visit to the vineyards of Leyda winery, the pioneer in this region 4 kilometres from the ocean. They had to build an 8-kilometre pipeline to bring water from the Maipo River. The original vineyard was planted 15 years ago. The region, because of morning fog and the sea breezes, is cooler than Casablanca. The winemaker, Viviane Navarrete, drives us through the vineyard to a tented area for our tasting. Kurtis and I are in the back of her truck and after the five-minute ride we are covered in brown dust.

Winemaker Viviane Navarrete explains Leyda’s soils

  • Leyda Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2013: light straw colour; fresh, green plum and citrus nose; medium-bodied, crisply dry with gooseberry and tangerine flavours and mouth-freshening acidity. (89)
  • Leyda Sauvignon Blanc Garuma Vineyard 2013: light straw colour; lemon and grapefruit nose with minerally, grassy notes; rich mouth feel, broader on the palate that the Reserva with a dry kiwi and grapefruit flavour. (89)
  • Leyda Lot 4 Sauvignon Blanc 2013: light straw colour with a green tint; creamy green fruit and grapefruit on the nose with a vanilla oak note; soft and full on the palate with minerally, grapefruit and elderberry flavours; great length. (91)
  • Leyda Sauvignon Gris Kadun Vineyard 2013: light straw colour; a nose of ginger, pepper and green pear; lively acidity with good texture. (89+)
  • Leyda Falaris Hill Chardonnay 2012: straw colour with a green tint; popcorn and citrus fruit nose with a touch of vanilla; spicy, green pineapple flavour; full-bodied with a lovely mouth feel and great length. (90)
  • Leyda Lot 5 Chardonnay 2012: straw colour; a nose of apple and peach with a light oak influence; full-bodied, lovely mouth feel, well integrated oak with fleshy, apple and pineapple flavours. Great length. (91)
  • Leyda Pinot Noir Reserva 2012: light ruby colour; minerally nose of cherries and violets; well-structured cherry and cherry pit flavours, firmly structured with a lovely mouth feel. (89)
  • Leyda La Brisas Pinot Noir 2012: ruby colour; a nose of raspberries, cherries and dried tomatoes and minerals; full on the palate, firmly structured with evident alcohol on the finish. (88)
  • Leyda Cahuel Pinot Noir 2012: ruby colour; smoky, cherry and violets on the nose; full on the palate, elegant, fresh cherry flavour; good length with lively acidity and a firm tannic finish. (89+)
  • Leyda Lot 21 Pinot Noir 2012: a deeper shade of ruby than the Cahuel Vineyard or La Brisas; spicy cherry and light oak nose; richly extracted cherry and orange peel flavours; full on the palate with lively acidity. Reminded me of a Pinot from Central Otago. Carries its alcohol very well. (91)
  • Leyda Canelo Syrah 2011: dense ruby-black colour; pepper, blackberries on the nose with a spicy-herbal note; well extracted fruit with a lively spine of acidity, savoury and firmly structured, finishing dry and elegant. (90)

Drove to Valparaiso and stopped for lunch at Fauna Restaurant at the top of the city. Great view of the ocean and the hills of the old town. Ordered razor clams in white wine sauce, octopus with tapenade and Juan Fernandez Island fish. Karyne had brought along a bottle of Pedro Parra’s Clos Fous Locura 1 Terroir de los Andes Chardonnay 2011 (minerally, Chablisesque with a touch of oxidation). We also had Gato Nero Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (very pale colour with a grapefruit nose; fresh and grassy on the palate with a kiwi flavour (87)). Gato Nero Cabernet Sauvignon 2013: purple-violet colour; floral, cedar nose of cloves and red berries; medium-bodied, sweetish with a redcurrant flavour, soft on the palate with enough tannin to give it structure. (86+)

Sunset in Vina del Mar

Drove into Vina del Mar to check into the Sheraton Miramar Hotel. The hotel, set beside the ocean, looks like a giant cruise ship. My room has a terrific ocean view. Watched the sunset on the terrace with a pisco sour before heading for dinner at Casa Higueras Restaurant. We had a set menu beginning with an amuse-gueule of a slice of blood sausage on toast with a honey form sauce. A bottle of Leyda Single Vineyard Garuma Sauvignon Blanc 2012 with a dish called Mar y Tierro, octopus and scallop with corn sauce.

Food art: Mar y Tierra

This dish was followed by sea bass ceviche, then salmon y guisantes, grilled salmon with fava beenpuree with Casa El Bosque Pinot Noit 2011. A bottle of Von Siebenthal Carabantes Syrah 2011 with tuna from Easter Island with a risotto of squid and pimentos. Dessert: sponge cake with grilled peaches and vanilla ice cream. The best meal I’ve had in Chile.

Saturday, March 8: Leaving the hotel this morning, our last day in Chile. There’s a marathon happening, which means certain streets are closed, which means we have to walk with our bags to a point where we can meet the bus. Our guide Willy Estupiñan shows us around Valpariso. Our first visit is the house of Palbo Neruda on Florida Hill. Neruda, a Communist, owned three houses in Chile. The place is full of the eclectic objets d’art Neruda collected.

Pablo Neruda’s house La Sebastiana, Florida Hill, Valparaiso

Valparaiso houses

Street art in Valpariso

We took the 1883 funicular railway car down the port level to see Sotomayor Square. Will told us that the favourite food of students (Valparaiso is a university town) is completo, a hot dog all dressed. When ordered with red pepper, mayonnaise and avocado it’s known as an Italian – the colours of the Italian flag. Signs on the highway read “Si Tomas, No Manejes” – if you’re drinking, don’t drive. The limit here is 0.3 alcohol.

We drive to Rencana, which has a kilometre-long beach, where we lunch at Las Pomairinos restaurant. We order a bottle of Concha Y Toro Terrunyo Sauvignon Blanc 2011 for the avocado, tomato and palm hearts salad, pilpil shrimps and pilpil clams. I order grilled conger eel, with which we have a bottle of Cono Sur 20 Barrels Chardonnay 2012.

The beach at Rencana

A short visit to the beach to see at a distance a volcanic rock formation immediately off shore. The rocks used to be black but they have been stained white by the droppings of pelicans, cormorants and seagulls. The locals call it “Michael Jackson Rock.” Back to the bus for the drive to Santiago airport and the flight home. At the airport Kurt finds that they sell pisco sours in mickeys once you’re through immigration and security. We have our last drink in Chile.

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