Wine Tasting: Vina Tabali

Winery/Producer: Viña Tabali, Santiago, Chili.

Appellation: Limarí Valley, Chile, South America.

Location: Viña Tabali – Av. Las Condes 9460, of. 801. Las Condes, Santiago, Chili.

Grape Variety Tasted:

    Grand Reserve Viognier ($8)
    Special Reserve Syrah ($12)

Tasting Price: 25,000 Chilean Peso ($33.00 US dollars).

Comments: We took a wine tasting tour that was offered by Cunard in the port of Coquimbo, Chile. The tour was billed as a wine tasting at the Tabali Vineyard, a producer of fine Chilean wines and was approximately a 90-minute highway drive from the port to the vineyard. We knew absolutely nothing about Tabali or their wines before hearing about the tour, but the day before we had been on a similar wine tasting from the port of San Antonio, Chile and both the tour and wines were really outstanding (see Wine Tasting: Casas-del-Bosque). In addition, while on this South America trip we also had a very successful winery tasting in Uruguay, see Wine Tasting: Familia Deicas Winery) so we had very high expectations for this tasting.

When we arrived at the winery it was a little strange when our the Cunard tour guide, not someone from the winery, began telling us about the vineyard and taking us around the winery. We were told about the “tank farm” that was constructed under an unusual open roof structure that covered a several acres of a deep ravine. The significant crushing equipment was used for both the vineyard operation and the extensive olive oil business that was adjacent to the vineyard. After seeing the barrel cellar that was built into one side of the ravine with barrels stacked 6-8 high we went into an underground tasting room. The room had a long table that already had boards with cheese, nuts, olives and a variety of local potato chips; however, there were not enough chairs or snacks and some of the people in the group had to stand…and no attempt was made to get another table…not a good sign of things to come!!! We were served two wines, a white and a red, that we both thought were very poor quality, even for their low selling price. We received a price list of the wines for sale at the winery; 20 of them ranged in price from $8 to $16 and one was $50. When people asked if we could taste any of the others before making a purchase we were told no, we would have to make any purchases without tasting the wines.

Marcelo, our tour guide
Marcelo, our tasting host and Cunard tour guide was very knowledgeable about Chilean wine; however we missed not getting the interesting bits of information that you only get from a vineyard or winery representative. However to his credit, he spoke excellent English and provided a broader view of Chile’s wine industry and where it fit into the world market than we usually get from a vineyard host.

Recommendation from the tasting: We were really glad that this was not the only vineyard tasting we did in Chile because in spite of this tasting we still have a VERY FAVORABLE opinion of both the wines and tasting at Chilean vineyards. The facilities were not adequate for the number of customers, the two wines we tasted were mediocre at best and they made a big mistake with our group because people wanted to buy more expensive wines, but wouldn’t unless samples were available. Our expectations were high and the Tabali tasting was disappointing. After our experience today we wouldn’t recommend either a vineyard tasting or Tabali wines!!!

Just a little side note: Tabali also has a large olive oil business adjacent to the vineyard. We were told they sell their olive oil in bulk to Italian and Spanish olive oil producers who process the oil and sell it as Italian or Spanish olive oil blends. We wouldn’t be surprised if they sell their wine in bulk and it’s blended and marketed in the U.S. as Chilean produced box wine!!!