Friday, 4 January 2013


Greetings from Santiago, the capital of Chile. This is our last few days in Chile and it will be a shame to leave the country to return to Argentina. I have really enjoyed my time here and recommend a visit if you ever come to South America. Everything is that bit more organised and you can certainly see why Chile is growing much faster than its larger neighbour.

Yesterday we spend a great day visiting some of the wineries in Chile’s central valley. First stop was the relatively small family owned Balduzzi winery. Founded by Italian immigrants, the winery produces about 11 million of bottles each year and specialises in high-end red wines for export. After a quick tour we got down to the serious business of tasting their reserve range, the Merlot being my personal favourite. $8 USD a bottle, bargain! It was interesting to note that their largest market is now China, where they export the bulk of their most expensive wines. High-end wines are a real status of wealth in China and this export market has exploded over the past decade. Unfortunately Balduzzi are a bit too small to export to the UK, so we are missing out on some cracking new world wines.

After a spot of lunch (no cheese and biscuits unfortunately), it was off to the San Pedro winery, one of the largest in Chile. It was interesting to go from a small family owned winery to one owned by the largest brewery company in Chile as San Pedro produces wine on an industrial scale and had a world leading bottling and production plant. More huge steel vats, than French oak barrels. Although much of the San Pedro wine was nice, it was not up to the same standard as Balduzzi and I think this is probably a reflection of the industrial vs. the artesian approach. San Predro do export to the UK and I can recommend the 35 South Cabernet Sauvignon if you see it in the supermarket. 

Luckily we have some more wine tasting ahead in Mendoza and it will be interesting to see how the wines compare. A telling statistic is that Chile exports about 70% of all wine produced, whereas Argentina exports only 30%. Whether this is a reflection of the quality of the wine or drinking habits of the two populations is open to debate.

Today I have been looking around Santiago. The city is in a beautiful setting, with the Andes in full view (apart from today due to the smog), but with nearly 40% of Chileans living in and around the city it has turned into a modern industrial city full of skyscrapers, noise and pollution. We only have one day here which is probably enough. As well as walking around the old colonial quarter, I also visited a few museums and galleries, the highlight being the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes which houses a wonderful collection of Chilean art. Well worth a visit.

Goodbye Chile, silly geography (2,880 miles long, but only 265 miles wide?), but a lovely country.


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