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Live from Chile, pt. 2

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Well, I haven’t been blogging as frequently as I would have liked, as is often the case with these wine trips. Chilean wineries, like so many I’ve been lucky enough to visit, like to keep you wandering through the vineyards, exploring their cellars, admiring their facilities, and (of course) tasting their wines.

In the past four or five days I’ve been lucky enough to wander the pristine grounds of Tarapaca, the environmentally friendly Emiliana, the incredible but somehow modest Montes, the up-and-coming Vina Maipo, the almost-overwhelming Carmen and Santa Rita, the respected Cousino-Macul and many more. On a typical wine trip you visit four or five wineries a day - two in the morning and two in the afternoon. In Chile, folks are a little more laid-back, and like to take a little more time with visitors, As a result, we’ve been visiting one winery in the morning, one over (what in Canada we would consider) the lunch hour, and one in the late afternoon/early evening.

Wineries have been careful to show us as many wines available in our regions (I’m with four wine folks from Vancouver and one from Calgary) as they can, providing us with prices and availability in the process (as well as pens - I’ve ended up with at least one pen from almost every winery). Today we had only one visit, and as a result I have some time this afternoon to blast out another blog.

One of the reasons I haven’t been able to update more often is that while we start early (between 8:30 and 9:00), visits are longer and meals later - the average lunch, for example, happens between 2:00 and 4:00, while dinner is usually between 8:00 and 10:00. As a result, I’m not usually around my computer until around midnight, and typically full of fabulous Chilean food and wine and in no shape to update the blog.

Us travellers, without any obligations tonight, have taken it upon ourselves to have a relatively early dinner (8:00) so that we don’t roll into bed and continue to pack on the pounds.

Some random thoughts:

  • Many Chilean winemakers have expressed a fair deal of enthusiasm about the upcoming Winnipeg Wine Festival. As you may or may not know, there have been some changes to the 2009 fest, including the absence of Manitoba’s private wine stores. However, the fest has taken it upon itself to include a theme at the fest, which just so happens to be Chile. As a result, we’ll be seeing a lot more export managers, winemakers, etc. roll through town this May than ever before.
  • Food here isn’t nearly as spicy as I would have hoped/expected, but it’s darn good. Fans of seafood and beef would relish the dishes here; fans of spicy food might find it underwhelming.
  • Three of the six Canadian travelers have Manitoba connections - myself, of course, as well as Vancouver’s Daenna Van Mulligen (aka the Wine Diva) and Barbara Philip, one of only three Canadians with the title of Master of Wine (MW).
  • Check out some pics I’ve taken so far here.

Well, I hope that’ll suffice for now, as it’s in the high 20s outside and I’ll be darned if I’m going to sit in my hotel room blogging and checking my email when I could be sitting by the pool drinking pisco sour…

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About Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson

When he wasn't bashing on a drum kit in local punk rock bands, Ben spent the mid '90s hucking cases of wine around to pay for two English degrees. Now he's the Winnipeg Free Press wine columnist and blogger.

The extent of Ben's wine experience in the mid-90s was memories of accidentally leaving a bottle of White Zinfandel in the freezer overnight, and the ensuing mess he was left with. Between 1996 and 2005 Ben absorbed all he could about wine while working at wine shops to pay for school. Meanwhile, he was churning out papers for his BA and MA in English (from the Universities of Winnipeg and Manitoba, respectively).

Ben became the Winnipeg Free Press' weekly wine columnist in 2005, and two years later joined Wine Access magazine as a contributor, a member of their national tasting panel and a judge at the Canadian Wine Awards and International Value Wine Awards until the magazine closed up shop in 2013.

In 2013 Ben joined the Winnipeg Free Press as a copy/web editor.

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