This year our #WorldWineTravel blogging group is traveling to South America through our wine glass lens. First stop, Chile. Wendy Klik our host, chose to let everyone decide what to pour from Chile or what dish we might want to make. Some chose both, I chose to write about a grape and wine that I tasted during one of my most memorable experiences in that beautiful country.
Later today, Saturday, January 28th, 2023, we will be gathering on Google Meet for a conversation about Chilean wine at 11:00am.In 2008, I visited Chile over the Christmas holiday break. I went to many parts of the country and even took a five hour flight from the coast to Easter Island. When you first get off the plane, you are greeted by people giving you flower garlands.
I went swimming that first afternoon and looked around the island a bit. The people were exceeding friendly and the island was filled with wild horses. I found a horse looking into my bedroom window the first night. It was quite odd indeed.
There are a number of things to see on Easter Island including the ruins of an ancient civilization, volcanos and Eucalyptus forests but most people go to see the Moai. Truly a remarkable experience, I spent a few days driving around in a jeep with a British friend Adam I met who happened to have a PhD in Archeology looking at these Moai statutes and ruins.
The statues were just breathtaking with some reaching up to 30 feet in height while weighing more than 75 tons. The statutes were all built between the 12th and 15th centuries and served as altars and places for religious ceremonies and family gatherings. At the height of their glory some 900 of these statues graced the island.
They were truly breathtaking and as always with these types of monuments, I found myself wondering how in the world they were able to carve such enormous statues. Not all of the Moai were in good shape as this photo shows. Many were destroyed, some had disintegrated and others were merely toppled over and eroded by the wind and the sea breezes.
It’s actually hard to fathom how large these statutes are unless you are looking directly at them. These photo shows people walking around the site where the stones to make the Moai came from. This quarry still has some Moai statues built into the rock which were never finished and put on altars.
The next photo shows one of these statutes. It reminds me of Michelangelo’s sculptures of the slaves in the Accademia in Florence. Both sets of statues are trapped in stone and the figures seem to want to spring out. It’s amazing to think what was happening in Western art at the time these sculptures were being built.
All the Moai we saw were standing except for the one in the next photograph. Some faced the sea and some faced inward towards the land. Easter Island has always had a very small population so these sculptures which are the deification of ones ancestors were really built for families. They are quite formulaic with the head being 3/5 the size of the body.
Some sites had long rows of statues. That’s me with the blue pants. I’m about 5’5 on a good day so that should give you an idea of the grandeur of these beautiful statutes.
Easter Island has beautiful beaches and sand. I went for a beautiful swim on this beach. People were surfing and the day was long and lazy with Moai overlooking the beach in the distant. Pretty snappy.
Hard as it may seem to believe, that is truly the color of the sky on Easter Island, a gorgeous midnight blue. The Moai on this beach have been reconstructed but originally all of the Moai had these top knots. They must be about five feet tall alone and about 40 tons.
Adam and I decided to celebrate that evening and went to an oddly expensive french restaurant on the isalnd called La Taverne du Pecheur. It was great and we had a lovely bottle of Sauvignon Blanc from Viña Sutil. They source their grapes for the Sauvignon blanc from their Colchagua Valley Estate. The winery has very extensive holdings, more than 500 hectares. Reading about the winery, I am impressed by their commitment to sustainability in the vineyards, in the cellar, and to their employees. It was a perfect pairing to the lobster we had for dinner that day. If memory serves, it was Adam’s first lobster ever so a memorable day.
While the Easter Island experience was quite singular, generally speaking Sauvignon blanc from Chile appealed to me. I found that I truly enjoyed the one I had from Vina Mar. 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 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 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.
This winery reminded me more of a scene from Dallas, the soap opera, and I expected JR to walk out of the front door.
A neighboring winery, called Vina Indomita, 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, their 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 truly beautiful.
An amazing trip, the Sauvignon Blanc across the country was a true surprise.
Check out what other members of our group has to say:
- A Bloody Good Rack of Lamb + 2019 Viña González Bastias País by Culinary Cam
- Chilean Crab Dip and a Modern Style Chardonnay by A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Chilean Sauvignon Blanc and Easter Island Memories by Avvinare
- Hatch Chili Burgers with a Chilean Cab by Our Good Life
- Hot Chilean Pairings: 4 Wines from Chile with Quinoa Citrus Salad, Empanadas, Cazuela de Vacuna by Wine Predator…Gwendolyn Alley
I have been longing to read this post since you shared the title. Wow! What an amazing trip. I have always wanted to go to Easter Island. It seems less “wild” than I thought it would look. But they are enormous.