Just a hundred kilometers from Santiago are located Valparaiso and Viña del Mar, which offer you their beautiful beaches and gastronomic treasures. But do not travel in a rush. Stop along the way, in the Casablanca Valley, to taste some of the best Chilean white wines.
Valparaiso and Viña del Mar are one of the most popular vacation destinations in Chile. These two cities are connected with an avenue of almost ten kilometers. Viña del Mar, known for its Singing Festival, offers beautiful beaches, a casino and a wide variety of restaurants. Valparaiso, meanwhile, delights with its spontaneous and colorful architecture, incredible views from its hills and a lively cultural life that brings together painters and musicians who travel the world in search of inspiration.
Ideas to spend free time in these pearls of the Chilean coast are limitless. Sports lovers can sail, horse ride along its shores or paragliding from the cliffs. But perhaps you prefer good food and the happiest bohemia. Valparaiso is known for its nightlife. In the ancient Bar Cinzano, for example, you can share a jar of wine and listen to tango singers and Latin American popular music. Now, if you seek contact with the culture, do not forget that in this same city is located “La Sebastiana”, one of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda’s three houses, which is now a museum.
However, before enjoying the treasures of the coast stop in the Casablanca Valley. This old colonial road between Santiago and Valparaiso is one of the most interesting wine capitals in the world. In this valley you can be part of a true wine tourism experience.
Concha y Toro’s winemaker Marcelo Papa produces in this valley some of the best white wines, such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Viognier, but also red lightweight bodied varieties as Pinot Noir, which in this coastal terroir expresses great finesse and freshness.
Casablanca with its Mediterranean climate and distinct seasons is characterized by morning mists and cool temperatures, which allow the grapes to ripen slowly, without losing its rich aromas and freshness. Each strain responds differently to the conditions of this terroir, but there are common aromatic notes particularly in whites. I speak of aromas of tropical fruits such as papaya, pineapple, passion fruit and mango, plus citrus notes like orange, tangerine and mandarin, always marked by a crisp and fresh acidity.
Following our trip to Valparaiso and Viña del Mar you can find numerous restaurants representing all the world’s cuisines, from pasta and stews, to roasts. But I could not imagine spending a short holiday on the coast and not enjoying its seafood and fish. Like other types of animal protein, fish can be distinguished by the weight. Some are very delicate and elegant, with fine, white meat and very little fat. Others are very intense and structured. We must always remember these factors when we want to pair food and wine.
A fine white meat fish is sole (lenguado). For this delicate treasure of the deep we need a fresh citrus wine. Casillero del Diablo Sauvignon Blanc has a bouquet of aromas such as peach, passion fruit and yellow currants. It is a balanced and round wine. So it is perfect for flounder or another very elegant fish as southern hake (merluza austral). The crisp acidity of this Sauvignon Blanc is also attractive for other types of fish. Try it with a more oily fish such as grouper (mero) or straight with a fried conger (congrio). Remember, fried dishes need a wine with crisp acidity.
One of the most popular fish in Chile is pomefret fish (reineta). It has a tasty, firm white meat, so watch out with the time of cooking. Another species of similar texture, but more refined, is the singular corvina. Surely several restaurants at the coast will offer these fish. Do not hesitate. Order Casillero del Diablo Chardonnay immediately. It is a very fruity wine, with aromas of pineapple, peach, apricot and mango, and a well-marked freshness. Due to spending part of its aging time in French oak, it also has more structure and some notes of buttery cookies with vanilla. For a white fish of a firmer flesh you need the good weight and acidity of this Chardonnay.
Chile, with its coastline of 4,000 kilometers, is known as a major producer of salmon. This fish differs from the rest at first sight. It has a beautiful peachy color and intense flavor. A pairing that really fascinates me is grilled or baked salmon with a fabulous Casillero del Diablo Viognier. This wine captures perfectly the attributes of the variety and a coastal valley like Casablanca. It has a full bouquet of tropical fruit, intense and elegant, but also a great roundness and structure. The Viognier is not only perfect for salmon, but also for other very strong fish like swordfish (albacora), which is characterized by its very nutritious pink flesh, and its fibrous, rich flavor.
And finally, you cannot leave the Chilean coast without trying tuna. Its red, intense and compact meat almost looks like a beef steak. It’s a delight. I assure you that for this fish you need to look in the direction of a red wine. Yes, you heard me right. A light bodied and elegant red as Casillero del Diablo Pinot Noir. It is a very expressive wine that surprises with its aromas of fresh raspberries and strawberries. It also possess a soft touch of rose petals. In the mouth it has elegant tannins, a well-balanced body and a lovely freshness, ideal for firm and tasty meats like tuna.
You can live an incredible gourmet experience just a couple of hours away from Santiago: taste the wonderful fish from the Chilean coast with Casablanca Valley wines. An exceptional and deep marine pairing.