South America in a glass (and on a plate) – part 1

clos apalta vineyardWe recently returned from a holiday in South America and thought it blog-worthy to give an overview of the food and wine experiences (in 3 parts). Obviously we had lots of other great experiences that did not revolve around food and wine, but will stick on topic and leave that for another day.  We tend to plan out a rough schedule of where we are going then spend time researching dining options, with a view to sticking to local cuisine and to establishments that have good wine cellars.


cevicheThe first dining experience fresh off a 13 hour flight was lunch at Azul Profundo in Santiago, this is a great little spot that specialises in seafood. While the interior is a little kitsch it is worth sticking it out and focusing on the food. The ceviche platter was amazing and actually the seafood highlight of the entire trip. We paired the food with a Casa Silva ’12 chardonnay, a bit of a shot in the dark, but a nice crisp unwooded chardy that paired well with the seafood.

foamDinner was at Astrid Gaston, a Peruvian joint that has a few branches scattered around South America. Foam seemed the order of the day with most dishes having flavored soap suds on them. We don’t see a lot of foam on dishes in Sydney anymore; the foam phase has passed. Dishes included a salmon capaccio, seafood spaghetti and a pork dish. We paired the main course with a Lapostolle Cuvee Alexandre Carmenere ’12 which is this wineries mid level vino. A lovely wine with the expected spicy element running through it.

haitiNext day we ventured to Cafe Haiti, a coffee house that is an institution in Santiago where waitresses in short skirts/dresses serve you coffee. Very funny with all these old geysers in there ogling the wait staff. My wife had a knowing smirk on her face the entire time. Dinner at Baco, a french joint that specialises in wine by the glass. Had a capaccio (not really french is it), a salmon tartare, a poached chicken dish and a steak. Washed down with a Heru pinot noir ’10 which was quite different to Australian pinot. Very strange aroma that was difficult to pin down, a nice drop though.

clos apalta 1The following day we grabbed a hire car and had a crack at driving on the wrong side of the road, with the car seat on the wrong side, all the while not understanding a single road sign. Got a bit lost in a fairly dodgey looking part of town, sat nav was kaput, iphone not working. Somehow we found our way to central Chile’s Colchagua Valley. Now this was a highlight staying at the Lapostolle Residence in one of their casitas, located right next to the Clos Apalta winery . As already mentioned in a prior post (Try something new, have a crack at carmenere!) this was a destination I was keen to get to as their Clos Apalta wine is somewhat revered.

Over the 2 days we spent here I am sure we tried every wine in their range (and some back vintages), and the food was absolutely spectacular and mostly grown onsite.  The Lapostolle range of vino covers everyday drinking wines that are very reasonable right up to their premium Clos Apalta blend.  We did a tour of the purpose built, gravity fed winery, and had our first taste of the Clos Apalta 2010 which was released this year. This is a perfectly balanced wine that is a blend of carmenere, cabernet and merlot (but varies year on year) with 24 months in new French oak. A little young but great length and notes of black fruits and spices.

cloa apalta 05We also had the opportunity to try a glass of the Clos Apalta 2005 which was Wine Spectator’s wine of the year in 2008. It is rare to get your hands on any of this, and we certainly did not expect a taste. As it happened the same day we arrived a bottle of the 2005 was opened for a French wine boffin doing an article (a proper one), and a few hours later the chef asked us if we would like a glass as there was still half a bottle left. The chef told us this was only the second bottle of the 2005 he had seen opened in his time at the winery, so we were a little chuffed. This was a perfect wine, lovely soft tannins, length that stayed for ever, black fruits, cassis and christmas cake flavours. A real highlight.

Another general highlight of Chile was pisco sours.  This is a cocktail that is made from pisco, which is made in the northern region of chile, and lime juice predominantly.  I am not really one for cocktails but this is deliciously refreshing drink with a bit of a kick, if you go try one, you will not regret it (only one though).

Next article Argentinean adventures so please make sure to read on.

Author: Neal



  1. My good Sir! You had a crack at the wrong wrong side of the road. This appears to be the first recorded instance of “two wrongs making a right.”

    I shall have to tell me Mum. Thanks for the enjoyable post and tempting photos.


  2. Neal, good shit man. I don’t mind a drop myself and I’m learning heaps from you guys, specifically with regard to say, wines that I might not normally take a chance on out of unfamiliarity but that might pair better with a certain dish. Thanks hey. Cheers boys. REDdog


  3. We drink quite a few Chilean Cabs. The Colchagua Valley is on my travel wish list. And I did the opposite side of the road driving in Scotland, with a manual transmission car. Roundabouts almost did me in. 🙂 Cheers.


  4. I want to take a moment to thank you for following, reading, and liking my posts on “Write the Vision”. I enjoy your posts as well… especially as they pertain to your travels and fine dining experiences. I am definitely a foodie!


  5. Ah, South America – adore Chilean and Argentinian wines, especially after our visit there a few years ago (just before the earthquake in Chile). Still some of my favorites – great value, thoroughly enjoyable!


  6. A glorious post .about a great trip. I haven’t been to South America, but I’ve heard several raves about Chile! For me, Chilean reds are a tad to rustic, earthy for me. Then again, I image those in the tasting rooms there are more refined. Looking forward to Argentina!


  7. I love the way you guys travel! Question-I bought a bottle of Carmenere after your awesome post and have been saving it to try. Why? I don’t know. I was thinking it might go well with the Mussels I make in a white wine, because I add pepper flakes to it. Thoughts? Should I wait for an Afghan food potluck at my house?


  8. Great fun!
    First of all, a compliment: Great photos, especially that first one of the seafood dish in Azul Profundo.
    Secondly: you seem to have been hit with a fad that totally escaped us (thank GOD!) — seriously? Flavoured soap suds? Shudder!


  9. Great stuff and very timely i am trying to choreograph an identical trip right now.thinking about 2-3 weeks.. I will certainly be implementing many of your stops through Chile and Argentina… anything you would aggressively add or avoid?



  10. Glad you found pisco sours…as the kids say, they’re the bomb! I understand one can find varying types of pisco on the streets in South America, ranging from high-end smooth to stuff that tastes like it was distilled in a septic tank and strained through a well-used gym sock.


  11. Finally catching up on reading these (backwards….). South America is on our travel bucket list, particularly Argentina. Thanks for a great overview!


  12. This is such a cool post, I love it! I have always wanted to travel to, & nose around South America. This post made me feel like I was with you experiencing all these fun places, & wines. A really appreciated experience!


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