Eat, Drink, Sleep, Wine

by Liz Caskey on December 2, 2010

Being in the loop of what’s happening on the forefront of luxe wine lodges front here in Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay, I was recently commissioned to write this piece for LAN Airlines brand new IN Wines magazine. It’s available on board for all you lucky folks traveling with them internationally in business class (a vacation in itself with a kick butt wine list chosen by Master Sommelier Hector Vergara). And of course, if you’d like us to hook you up with a full itinerary from first-class transport to knowledgeable guides and more visits, since our company, Liz Caskey Culinary & Wine Experiences, specializes in planning these trips (works with these class act properties), just drop us a line at info@lizcaskey.com. Read on!

Casa Lapostolle Residence

Apalta, Colchagua Valley, Chile

Set in the heart of Chile’s lush wine country 200 kilometers south of the capital, privacy, exclusivity, and the pursuit of hedonism are the draw at the Clos Apalta Winery and Lodge. The four cottages, known as casitas, are perched high above the prized vines on the forested hillside of Apalta with sweeping views of the Andes Mountains and valley below. Named after the four varieties in the vineyard – Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Merlot  & Carmenere – each cottage feels like your own private paradise from the sprawling patoi to the jacuzzi bath. In the summer time, cool off in the infinity pool, let the masseuse knead your muscles after a demanding day of wine tasting, or dig into organic produce transformed into simple, gourmet cuisine from their adjacent garden. Be sure to peel yourself away, if even for a little, to visit the striking, state-of-the-art winery. Owned by the Marnier-Lapostolle family, it was built to exclusively produce their icon wine Clos Apalta, a Bordeaux-style blend that won best wine in the world in 2008 by Wine Spectator. Spiraling five floors into the Earth, three of which are buried in solid granite, you’ll understand how this gravity-flow, pump-free cellar produces this true wine gem. Heaven? Absolutely.

Casa Silva

San Fernando, Colchagua Valley, Chile

 

Nestled in the heart of huaso (Chilean cowboy) country, this chic colonial gem oozes charm with red-tiled roofs, whitewashed adobe walls, hand-tiled floors, and exquisite country decor. Built around a central courtyard with a soothing fountain, each of the seven rooms is uniquely decorated, so you feel like you’re visiting a friend’s country estate rather than staying in a hotel. As a low key yet sophisticated and intimate refuge in wine country, bike the vineyards or take the wandering country roads deep into rolling hills. The Silva family is passionate about horses and rodeos—catch some demos in their own medialuna, or saddle up with the resident horseman for a ride. As a wine pioneer in Colchagua with various vineyard plantations throughout the region, tour the winery to better understand the varied terruño from the Andean foothills of Los Lingues out to the foggy coast of Paredones and Lolol where they grow their unique Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc. Dine in their restaurant with a focus on über-fresh ingredients and a creative take on traditional countryside dishes like empanadas stuffed with charqui, dried beef. Sip more of their terroir-driven wines like the outstanding red blend, Quinta Generación.

 

Cavas Wine Lodge

Alto Agrelo, Mendoza, Argentina

 

Thirty minutes south of Mendoza City, Cavas Wine Lodge is a slice of Shangri-La at the feet of the towering Andes. Hidden among the old-vine Bonarda and other criollo grapes, owners Cecilia Diaz Chuit and Martin Rigal created a hotel amid 35 acres of vineyards devoted solely to their passion: wine. A Relais & Chateaux hotel, the fourteen spacious, luxurious cabañas sport their own private terrace, splash pool, and rooftop lounge. It’s the quinessential hide away–and perfect jumping off point to explore Mendoza’s famed wine country. Producers like Catena Zapata, Paul Hobb’s Cobos, and Achaval Ferrer are a stone’s throw away. Linger over an alfresco lunch with a Mountain view with fresh Mendocino cuisine and the house bonarda. Learn about the local terroir in a tasting in their private wine cellar with over 200 labels. Relax in their Arabian-style courtyard spa with treatments including a Malbec wine bath. During harvest garner an apron and scissors (and a glass of wine) to help cut grapes off the heavy vines, literally outside your cabaña. Afterwards, settle in for a concert with a classic guitarist  in their outdoor ampi. Romantics will savor snuggling under the star-filled sky on their private rooftop lounge by a roaring fire.  Want to dine elsewhere? Let Concierge book you a choice table at celebrity chef Francis Mallman’s 1884 or Jean Paul Bondoux’s La Bourgogne. Ahh.

 

Estancia Colomé

Colomé, Salta, Argentina

Framed by masses of chiseled red rock and the verdant foothills of the Andes, Estancia Colomé’s infamous remoteness, humbling nature, and fine wines are its allure. Purchased in 2001 by Swiss entrepreneur, an International winery owner, and avid art collector Donald Hess, it’s a true mission only for serious wine lovers. Fly two hours from Buenos Aires to Salta in Argentina’s far flung Northwest. Next, journey four hours down a (bumpy) dirt road—or 30 minutes in a helicopter. Secluded in the folds of the high-altitude Calchaqui valley those going the extra mile are rewarded for their effort. Today, the old adobe buildings contain the winery, a boutique luxury hotel with nine suites, and the modern art musuem by James Turrell, an internationally acclaimed light and space artist. Soothingly natural with adobe, stone, wood, and neutral colors, its chic yet low profile vibe puts you very quickly in a zen place. A self-sufficient working estancia, the property’s farm and vineyards are completely biodynamic including the water turbine and reservoir to generate its own electricity. Get immersed in Colomé’s surroundings with Ernesto, the resident gaucho (and horse-whisperer), on a ride to explore the pristine landscape. Or set off by foot on the hiking trails through vineyards and mountainous areas. Indulge youself with a massage using the aromatic oils from the high-altitude flowers. Forget about modern life, e-mail, and your iPhone’s connectivity. Colomé is about disconnecting, harmonizing with nature, and drinking the lush Malbec, Syrah, and Torrontes.

{ 1 comment }

Lilani January 4, 2011 at 1:16 am

Hi Liz, really enjoying reading your wine tips! We are from Australia and love wine tasting and we’ve been all over Aus visiting wineries. Just wondering, do you know if we can do the same here – just rock up to the wineries for (paid?) tastings, or if we need appointments?? We love the spontaneity of a day at the vineyards!

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