Fung Shui, Science Fiction and Barrel Lullabies
February 3 (continued)
So – two wineries and one excellent lunch later – were we done for the day? Not a chance. We headed next to Montes – the winery that is credited with introducing the concept of creating premium wine in Chile
– up until about the 1980s, Chilean wine production was dedicated to inexpensive table wines of little quality. Montes was for years a small place – but has now been reinvented into a temple of wine. Their symbol
– an angel – spoke of the spirituality of the owners. The winery’s beautiful new building was built using feng shui principals – select walls painted red for success and luck, a combination of elements – metal, wood, water and air – incorporated into each room. Wow. But it was the barrel room that floored us. There, in the quiet dim light, the barrels – arranged in a semi-circle and filled with “living” wine – were being serenaded 24/7 by echoing monastic singing – an otherworldly sensation. It was almost science fiction in feel – like these barrels were the embryonic pods that would someday burst forth with little angelic living creatures. Which in this case would be bottled and drunk by mere mortals. Thank goodness for small favors.
We ended the day at the Santa Cruz hotel in Santa Cruz – another charming place in a sleepy small town. Gathering for dinner at the hotel restaurant we tried the local Chilean specialties – charquican (diced meat cooked with garlic, onions, potatoes and pumpkin all mashed), humitas (boiled corn tamles rolled in husks and filled with seasoned ground corn) and bistec a lo pobre (beefsteak, french fries, fried onions, topped with a couple of fried eggs – and a heart attack on the side). All pretty tasty and a great introduction to the food of the region. Including, I might add two desserts that, though not drop-dead delicious, were noteworthy for their ingredients. The first, a pumpkin mousse with caramelized onions and red wine ice cream; the second was boiled corn with dried peaches (whole!) in sugar syrup. Yummy? Well, sort of. . .