120: A Celebration of Fiestas Patrias

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Note: This was written long before the recent earthquake… I asked a Chilean amiga whether or not to release this (might be in horrible taste), and she reminded me of something I already knew about their people: They are extremely resilient. Chile being part of the ring of fire, they are used to natural calamities, and are incredibly prepared (I was personally amazed at how they used Facebook to indicate they were safe, how their government managed to get people to safety in such an efficient and effective manner, resulting to minimal casualties). In relation to the celebrations of El Dieciocho, I’ve seen some news that it will be scaled down a little, but they will still go on. As my amiga said, “You know what, people there (her fellow Chileans) will probably just drink to forget… You should put that in the article.” 

So I did. 🙂

I realise that the article is timely… Today, not only is this post a celebration of their fighting spirit over 200 years ago to liberate themselves, but their irrepressible nature that resonates in today’s times.


In line with Chile’s Independence Day (or Fiestas Patrias, also called El Dieciocho), I decided to feature a wine that truly captures the spirit of the celebration: The Santa Rita 120 Carmenere.

A bit of history: Chile celebrates its Independence in two days, the 18th and 19th of September. The 18th commemorates the proclamation of the first governing body of 1810, and the 19th is a celebration of the “Day of the Glories of the Army”.

The 18th of September 1810 is also the beginning of the Chilean War of Independence, which lasted until 1821, when royalist forces were expelled from Chile; or 1826, when the last of the Spanish forces surrendered.

Nonetheless, war was still raging during the year 1814, when 120 exhausted Chilean patriots reached the land belonging to Santa Rita. The patriots were weary after an extensive and difficult battle for Chile’s independence, and sought refuge in Santa Rita’s cellars.

Today, these cellars still make beautiful, everyday drinking wines in honor of the patriots, aptly called 120.

120 bottle

From Chile to Manila! Special thanks to the wonderful marketing team of Future Trade Inc., Mr. Eric Kahn and Ms. Kristine Tayag

For a truly Chilean celebration, try having 120 in the quintessential Chilean grape, the Carmenere (more info on the grape here). It goes divinely with lamb, aged cheese, chicken, stews, and tomato-based pasta.

For a truly Chilean feast, pair it with easy-to-make empanadas (I recommend this recipe from the wonderful people of QueRicaVida). While it’s easy to buy one from a few restaurants in Manila, I must say that nothing comes close to the authentic Chilean ones. The dough is soft, and the filling is wonderfully hearty.

Santa Rita’s 120 wines (Carmenere, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Sauvignon Blanc) are found in leading supermarkets nationwide.

Santa Rita also has sophisticated, beautiful higher end labels. The Reserva, Medalla Real, and Casa Real are available through Forth & Tay (+632 826-1067, or orders@forthtay.com).

But if you feel like celebrating in Chile (I hear the parties involve so much alcohol), book a trip and join in the revelry (Chileans are so hospitable, warm, and kind… It’s impossible not to join the fun). These are just a few of the sights you can see in Santa Rita’s property:

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The gorgeous mountains serving as an impressive background to Santa Rita’s entrance

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Magnificent gardens, lush greenery

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The many things this vine must have seen…

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Love, Lake, and… Ducks!

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Beautiful church erected for a wedding held in the property many years ago

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The famous underground cellar of Santa Rita

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(l-r): Medalla Real Chardonnay, Floresta Sauvignon Blanc (coming soon to the world market, so honoured to be one of the first to try it), Medalla Real Cabernet Sauvignon, Pehuen Carmenere, Bougainville, and Casa Real

No wonder it was the perfect haven for the 120.

Let me give you another number worth noting: They are now celebrating 205 years of independence.

To our amigos and amigas in Chile, salud to your spirit!

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