If you have wine geeks in your life, you’ve probably seen them swirl a glass of wine under their nose, slurp it, and pronounce that it has “minerality.” Now you can tell them that they haven’t truly tasted minerality until they visit the Tagua Tagua Observatory in San Vincente, Chile. Ian Hutcheon, winemaker, British expat, and observatory director, lowers a piece of a 4.5-billion-year-old meteorite directly into his cabernet sauvignon barrels to create his signature wine, Meteorito.
Hutcheon says that he tried several different varieties to find one that would marry well with the meteorite, and that he found cabernet sauvignon was robust enough to handle the flavors that it brought to the wine. After the cabernet has been fermented and placed into barrels, he lowers a golf ball–sized chunk of the meteorite inside, where it stays as the wine ages. He purchased his vineyard in 2009, while the meteorite he obtained to marinate with his cabernet crashed into Chile’s Atacama desert about 6,000 years ago.
The Tagua Tagua Observatory is located in the city of San Vincente, about a 90-minute drive from Santiago. It’s far enough away from the city that light pollution is at a minimum and you’ll have an excellent view of the stars. Although you might think of Chile as a rather new wine-producing country, Spanish settlers first brought vines there in the 1500s, and during the phylloxera crisis of the 19th century that decimated vineyards in Europe, Chilean wines really got a chance to shine. To this day, the country hasn’t been affected by the destructive pest, perhaps due to its geographic isolation.
Who knows if lowering a rock into Cabernet will really do much to its flavor, but Hutcheon claims that it makes the color a bit darker and brings out the flavors, making them a little bolder and brighter. Whether or not you believe that being aged with a meteorite does anything to the wine, visiting the Tagua Tagua Observatory and stargazing with a glass of wine in hand sounds pretty fantastic.
Where to Try It
Observatorio Tagua Tagua WebsiteSanta Natalia, Tunca Arriba, San Vicente de Tagua Tagua, Chile, Chile
You can book a reservation at the observatory through their website, which also gives information on other local activities. Just bear in mind that to stargaze, you’ll need to be there after sunset, and that the observatory’s hours are a bit different in the summer and winter.