Despite being more of a night owl continent, some establishments like to start late and close early, wrapping up our day of Casablanca Valley vineyards earlier than planned.
We toast our final tasting at Viña Mar, a plantation-style estate with imposing entryway and even grander oak barrel room, Graham and I serenaded by a dozen caged parakeets–how sad–as we perch atop orange and cream striped chaises.
Here, we spring for an extra glass, a spumante, a taste of something bubbly to mark the occasion, but alas, this must be the worst glass of sparkling wine ever seriously offered at a quasi-serious degustacion, the stuff roaring headaches are made of, and both Graham and I have an impossible time taking more than a we sips, each subsequent one intended to ensure that the sip preceding it was, indeed, that wretched.
Next up, the chardonnay and pinot noir do little to redeem the flute, their flavors at least drinkable, but single-noted and standard.
We conclude with a cabernet sauvignon carmanère varietal, hopes high, and alas, we have a winner, if only comparatively, more full-bodied and structured than the other red we try, and on this note, we proclaim our first vineyard visit the victor, Casas del Bosque a better all-around experience for presentation and craftsmanship.
Not that a day tasting the local produce is wasted, quite the contrary, we manage to rack up loads of local business, our budget self-tour as costly as the guided tour once rental car, tasting fees, and exorbitant gas prices–$36 for a quarter tank of newish sedan–tally up, roughly CP$40,000 per person, definitely a little luxury living on this fine Wednesday.