Between the Mountains
and the Deep Blue Sea
If you’re looking for good value in wine, head for the Chilean section of your local wine shop.
Winemaking was established in Chile in the mid-sixteenth century by Spanish missionaries, and for 300 years wine production was based on the Pais grape they carried. In 1851, French wine experts arrived, and with them the more familiar European grape varieties. And now, even with over 400 years of experience, and free of the twin scourges of Prohibition and phylloxera, Chile has yet to attain its full potential.
This promise continues to attract winemakers from around the world. One of the French concerns is the Marnier Lapostolle family, founders and owners of the famous orange liqueur Grand Marnier, as well as other spirits. Lapostolle was established in 1994, with the goal of creating top-quality wines using French expertise and the unique terroirs of Chile.
Cuvee Alexandre Chardonnay 2009
The home of this wine is the Atalayas vineyard in the Casablanca Valley, in the Coastal Cordillera, 47 miles west of Santiago. Atalayas was originally planted in 1997, and enjoys cool coastal winds and a low annual rainfall. 100% of Atalayas vineyard is under organic and biodynamic agriculture management.
This is the rare white that will benefit from thirty minutes or so of ‘breathing’ before pouring. While you’re waiting, admire its bright lemon-yellow color and nose of citrus and melon. This wine suggests grapefruit on the palate, which is supported by its zippy acidity. There is oak, but it is well integrated and in a secondary role. Look for a hint of crème brûlée on the finish. Fermentation was on 68% new and used French oak, as well as 32% stainless steel. 20% of the total underwent a further malolactic fermentation.
This wine would go nicely with Braised Snapper and Mussels, Shrimp in a Picante Sauce, or Chicken à la Chinita.
Canto de Apalta 2011
The horseshoe-shaped Apalta vineyard is located 124 miles southwest of Santiago, 42 miles away from the Pacific Ocean, between the Andes mountain range and the Coastal Cordillera. The first vines in Apalta were planted in 1920, and some of these were transplants that had originally been brought from France at the end of the 19th century. Apalta is also 100% under organic and biodynamic management.
“Song of Apalta” is a Bordeaux-style red blend that was born from the relationship between Carmenère, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. All fermentations were made with wild yeasts and minimal intervention on the part of the winemaking team.
Here’s a food-friendly wine that is also good for quaffing. It is rich garnet in the glass, with delicate legs. The nose shows spice and eucalyptus, as well as black and red fruits. The body is light in the mouth, with flavors of ripe red berries and figs. These are backed up by medium tannins and a surprising amount of acidity. The wine has a medium-length finish.
Serve with Roast Beef in a Black Pepper Crust, Leg of Lamb with Pistachios, or Lemon Veal Chops.
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