Chile Day 11: The Casablanca Valley – Rediscovering Sauvignon Blanc

Although it has been almost seven months since my lovely trip to Chile, I have yet to write about my vineyard trips while there. An article by Eric Asimov in this week’s Dining In section sparked my memories of just how much I enjoyed the Chilean Sauvignon Blancs that I tried while visiting.

Vina Mar

Let me be frank, I generally find Sauvignon Blanc is not a grape I favor, unless it is from the Loire Valley or blended in a White Bordeaux. I am not fond of the new world style sauvignons so I was quite surprised to discover that these wines from Chile’s Casablanca Valley appealed to me very much.

Wine Label

Quite unexpectedly I found that I truly enjoyed the Vina Mar 2008 Sauvignon Blanc. It was light and fresh with nice acidity but none of the tinned vegetable notes or other characteristic aromas that one gets with other Sauvignon Blancs.

Vina Mar 3

Vina Mar was started in 2002. Casablanca is ideal because you have warm temperatures during the day and cool ocean breezes at night and early morning fog. This combination of factors helps to keep the acidity lively. Vina Mar uses selection tables for the grapes and a pneumatic press.

The Sauvignon blanc ferments in stainless steel although for the special reserve version of this wine, a small percentage sees some wood. The fruit is more tropical on the special reserve and it is a bit creamier than the leaner 100% stainless steel one. I also enjoyed a Pinot Noir that they produce and a Carmenere. The Chardonnay was less interesting to me.

I am used to visiting wineries in the old world and have visited quite a few in the new world in Argentina, Australia, California and New York, however, I was quite unprepared for the scale of the holdings in Chile. The valleys run for miles with nothing but grape vines.

Vina Mar Winery

This winery reminded me more of a scene from Dallas, the soap opera, and I expected JR to walk out of the front door.

Vina Indomita

My group moved on to the neighboring winery, also quite commerical called Vina Indomita. Here the decor reminded me of chic bars and night spots in Milan.


This estate was immense as well, some 200 hectares. Immaculately groomed and well cared for, the wines were pleasant. The Sauvignon Blanc was lemony with citrus notes. Not very complex but most enjoyable. The scenery is gorgeous. Nothing about these wineries is at all quaint but they were both truly beautiful.

Not quaint but beautiful

At this winery, I preferred the Carmenere and the Cabernet Sauvignon. Both are made with grapes grown in the Central Valley, farther South.

Wines at Vina Indomita

The day was exceptional and I was sorry to see it end.

Before going to the wineries we went to Pablo Neruda’s famous home on the coast, Isla Negra. Neruda, that most romantic of poets, is one of my favorites. I saw three of his homes while in Chile. He was a fascinating character with a love for everything related to the sea, although he was afraid of boats. His homes are fabulously interesting with a charming, eclectic variety of objects. Un incanto, come si suol dire…

Isla Negra

Neruda’s poetry speaks for itself. Surely there is nothing I can add except to remind people to go visit Isla Negra, a truly magical experience.

Bar at Isla Negra

Beach at Isla Negra

View at Isla Negra

While you are there, have a fruity Sauvignon Blanc, what a great way to relax. After the visit, you must also buy a chocolate from this lady, Nonna Tina.

Nonna Tina


  1. Greetings! Thank you for your Casablanca, Chile entry. We will be staying in Valpariso this Xmas and New Years and would like to rent a car and head out to experience the area you wrote. What wineries would you recommend and do they require reservations/appointments in adance? How much should we expect to pay for each tasting? Would a day trip be sufficient? Any sites on the worth exploring and not missing? Any other information regarding planning a day trip to the Casablanca region would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.

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