My second stop on the first day of the Winebow Tour was at the Veramonte vinyards in the Casablanca region, established in 1990 which primarily grow grapes for Savignon Blanc, Merlot, Chardonney and Pinot Noir. The climate in this terroir apparently too cold for Cabernet Savignon and Carmenere, those grapes are grown in the Colchagua Valley, according to our guide.
Veramonte boasts 2-3 different soil (lyme, clay, and granitic) which dramatically affects the grapes they use in their wines. There is also a great influence from the ocean in the lower parts of the vinyard, resulting in more fog, less light, and more humidity. There is no denying that this was a completely new world being made available to me! Light? Fog? Hardly the same elements that affect emulsion, caramelization, or braising!
Our gracious hosts at Veramonte treated us to a lovely glass of Merlot while touring the vinyards where Merlot and Syrah grapes are cultivated. It was interesting to note that our guide at Veramonte described sections of the vinyard that are dedicated to growing entirely organic wine, such as Syrah.
After a tour of the immediate plots, we were escorted inside the winery where we were invited to make our own “blends” for their Primus featuring Merlot, Syrah, and Pinot Noir. I was happy to defer to my team mates superior knowledge of the alchemy of wine making, and looked forward to the delicious dinner Chef Claudio Vidal was busy preparing for us.
I have to agree with the ever intrepid Carolina, that Chilean bread (pan amasado) should never be in short supply on one’s table. At Veramonte, it was accompanied by a thin, crispy sopaipilla which was light, chewy and delicious, but our first course of Coconut Shrimp confused me a little because I didn’t quite understand how that dish had found its way to this menu.
The crusted Conger Eel that was the featured fish course was served with a saffron risotto, and while I appreciated the effort of the chef, I would have preferred a side that better reflected the food of Chile, as opposed to a risotto. The fish was sweet and local and well seasoned with just the right amount of tooth. Yummy!
Meat is a large aspect of the Chilean diet, and our Roasted Filet Mignon with Mushroom Ragout was an elegant spin on local fare, although again, I would have been happy to see it accompanied by something a bit more traditional. As a novice to Chilean cuisine, I was eager to see what differentiated this from Latin cuisine I am familiar with, and I wasn’t getting a clear sense of it from this menu.
Dessert was a horse of a different color altogether, though, and featured sweets I had never encountered before, attractively served in pretty glasses. Lovely, merengue topped Suspiros Limenos, Dulce de Leche puddings and a delightfully refreshing Mote con Huesillo, a dessert of reconstituted dried peaches perfumed with orange zest syrup and wheatberries excited even dessert jaded me!
The sweets were accompanied by a gorgeous array local Chilean fruit which included kiwi, papaya, lucuma, cherimoya, cactus pear and berries, which beautifully concludeded our sumptuous dinner at Veramonte. Sleepy and satiated, my friends and I headed back to the tour bus which would return us to Santiago for our next wine adventure in Chile!