Chile day 4. Today was my first day of official wine tasting at a winery here in Chile. My visit was to the Casas del Bosque winery. It is about a 1.5 hr ride from Santiago to Casas del Bosque. We left with semi-sunny skies around Santiago until we passed through a tunnel that on the other side was the start of the Casablanca Valley. We immediately hit the coastal fog which is famous for the valley. I met with a very informative lady named Judith Ramirez Aquirre. Judith took me through some of the vines surrounding the winery. As it is spring here in Chile, there are no berries yet. The vines have started to sprout leaves and some have the buds for the grapes which have yet to bloom. Grape vines i am told bloom in November in Chile. That there are buds now is surprising to the people at the winery. They mentioned that it was the Pinot Noir vines that were 3 weeks advanced. There was also chardonnay and sauvignon blanc vines around which were still with very small leaves forming. After walking through the vines, we viewed the crushing area, the stainless steel fermentation vats, the oak barrel aging room, and the bottling line, before we moved to the Tasting Room. Judith led me through a tasting of 8 wines. We started with Sauvignon Blanc, then to Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and a red blend. All the grapes are from the Casablanca Valley, except for the Cab, which was from the Rapel Valley. Although I do not have time to go through all the wines today, I’ll point out a few, and then when i’m back in Canada, i’ll provide all my tasting notes on www.mywinepal.com. One wine of note was the 2009 Casas del Bosque Sauvignon Blanc Reserva (unbelievable being a 2009 vintage, while the Okanagan is still harvesting grapes). This is made very much in a New World (New Zealand) style. This one was pale lemon with a green tint. Lots of gooseberry and herbal on the nose, and a bit of celery. Good acidity, with gooseberry, herbal, celery and green apple flavours. Pair with some oysters on the half shell or lightly cooked fish for a nice complement. On the red wine side, I will make note of the 2008 Casas del Bosque Pinot Noir Gran Reserva. This wine spent 9 months in french oak. They like to use 2-3 year French oak barrels as much as possible for all their barrel aged wines so the oak is there, but not in your face. This one had a wide range of aromas. Strawberry, oak, red cherry, dill and mushroom at first, but then some vanilla on the nose. The wine was quite fruity. Lots of red cherry, but also some dill and vanilla. Quite smooth, medium length, and a dry finish. I’d try this with grilled salmon, or pan fried chicken breast with vegetables and herbs. That is all for now. I’m in Valparaiso enjoying the views of this UNESCO World heritage site. Saludos.