The first complete (and rested!) day in Chile found me at the Leyda wineries where we began our oenophile adventure. After driving about one hour or so, we reached this beautiful vineyard, set against gently sloping mountains and rolling valleys. The Spring is just started in Chile, and I was surprised by the bareness of the young vines, although delicate patches of green are already visible.
Max, our gracious host at Leyda, gave us a quick tour of one of the slopes, while lecturing us on the importance of sun exposure, wind exposure, altitude, and irrigation to produce the exact qualities the winemakers at Leyda are looking for. I have to tell you, it was a completely new vocabulary to me, and I was impressed by the other members of my party, which included Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, Fredric Koeppel, Michelle Locke Ho, Denman Moody and The Wine Guys. Pretty impressive company, indeed!
It wasn’t long before we made our way to the wine tasting and the matter at hand at Leyda’s lovely winery, and we spent the late morning/ early afternoon tasting fruity Chardonnays, juicy Cabernets (or Cab Savs, I’ve been told!), and complex Pinot Noirs. Taking the cue from all of my new professional wine “friends”, I swirled, swished, and spat with the best of them that morning, before we were lead to a darling tent which shielded us from the cool mountain breezes.
There, we enjoyed a deliciously warming lunch of Shrimp and Conger Ceviche and Abalone and Shrimp Chupe (chowder), followed by a perfect fruit salad of cherimoya, strawberries and Chilean papaya (completely different than the Caribbean version!). This party was definitely started!
In true Latin American form, no party is complete without music, and our charming hosts at Leyda treated us to a group of Huasos, the country-folk of Chile singing traditional songs and dances. They even got me onto the dance floor!
Sadly, our visit at Leyda ended much too soon, and I asked Winebow host, Alfredo Bartalomaus, “Alfredo, what can possibly come after this? Leyda has certainly set the bar!”. Alfredo smiled knowingly and answered, “Our adventure has just begun, chiquilla…everything awaits.”
I couldn’t begin to imagine….