(October 30 – written by Dave)
On our rest day today, we had to very simple goals. Number one, build Nancy a new kick stand for her bike. Number two, find a vineyard where we could sample some of the area’s Chilean wine varieties. I am happy to report that we were successful on both accounts.
Nancy’s had two kick stands on her bike so far on this trip. She’s now worn both of them out. Technically they’ve both broken but that makes it sound like she’s done something wrong. All she’s really done is use them and in truth, they have a limited duty cycles until they break. Sure, she could have leaned her bike up against a few more trees and not used the kick stands as often, but ultimately, you buy these thing so that you can use them.
Given that we are now south of Santiago, there is little chance of finding a bike shop between here and the end of the trip so out of necessity, we “McGyvered” a new kick stand. I can’t take full credit for the design as there is a commercial product out there called a “click-stand” that is similar to Nancy’s new stand. It is much fancier, made of expedition/aircraft grade 7000 series aluminium tubing. Ours is made of PVC pipe and is about twice the overall bulk of the professional product. Heck, we might have purchased a “click-stand” had we had an address and the company was willing to ship it there.
Left with no choice, we improvised. Here’s what we came up with.
We’ll let you know how it works in the coming days/weeks.
That job done, we moved onto the second chore, find a winery to taste local Chilean wines. We had a couple criteria, close enough to walk, good reputation and a vineyard to sit in. All of these boxes were ticked in Laura Hartwig. It is only about a mile from the hostel, the hostel owners recommended it highly and it is located right in the middle of a working vineyard.
Laura Hartwig and her husband (Alejandro) started the winery here in 1981 on land that had been in Laura’s family since 1928. The two of them lived in Canada for 10 years while Alejandro worked for a European pharmaceutical company. Extensive international travel gave them the idea to build a winery here to tap into the “new” wine trend that they were seeing. That was 1981, now they have nearly 40 year old fines and make more than 10 unique varietals, mostly focusing on reds.
They have a really nice tasting area. While the tasting room is small, they have a lovely patio that looks out over the vineyards. In the tasting room, you pick the wines you want to try, then they bring them out to you on the patio. You then have all the time you need or want to sample, drink and take in the full environment – all very relaxed and low-key.
We chose the following wines to taste:
2016 Malbec – aged in concrete tanks
2016 Carménére – aged in steel tanks
2012 Malbec – aged in third use European oak
2012 Cabernet Sauvignon – aged in second use European oak
2013 Petit Verdot – aged in second use European oak
Remember, we are not wine snobs, let alone wine experts. We liked the Cab Sav best but mostly because it was the biggest and probably more like the wines we’ve gotten used to in Australia. We were surprised how much different the oak aging made on taste, smell and complexity. The Petit Verdot was the deepest in colour but it didn’t wrap around your mouth the way the Cab Sav did. The difference between the two Malbecs was night and day – proving that how the wine is made really does matter.
The tasting patio was very nice – we watched vineyard workers go and come from lunch on bicycles while we worked through the wines. We would have stayed there all afternoon if they had served food. We shared one single tasting glass of each flavour noted above but they were big glasses. We finished everything and were feeling no pain by the end, and we were ready to eat so we headed back into town for a bite to eat.
Chores done, we head off again tomorrow. We actively debating riding 60 or 120k. 60 is just a little shorter than we like to ride, but 120 is just a little further. So we’ll noodle this one more this afternoon and eventually commit to one or the other. Or maybe we’ll just see how we feel when we hit the 60k mark and stop if we feel like or keep going if we still feel like riding…