Chile has a long viticultural history for a New World wine region dating to the 16th century when the Spanish conquistadors brought Vitis vinifera vines with them as they colonized the region. In the mid-19th century, French wine varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Carmenère and Cabernet Franc were introduced. In the early 1980s, a renaissance began with the introduction of stainless steel fermentation tanks and the use of oak barrels for aging. Wine exports grew very quickly as quality wine production increased. The number of wineries has grown from 12 in 1995 to over 70 in 2005. Reasons for this sudden expansion varies, but all are essential to understanding Chilean wine culture. The largest factor, and arguably most prominent, relates to the large amount of French families immigrating to Chile during the late 20th century. The French were able to share their fine tastes and experience with the native Chileans, expanding their knowledge of the wine world. Chile is now the fifth largest exporter of wines in the world, and the ninth largest producer. The climate has been described as midway between that of California and France. The most common grapes are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Carmenère.
- Item #: i_378159Bottle Size: 750mlJames Suckling: 95The Lapostolle 2016 "Cuvee Alexandre" Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile has the bold flavors, full body, and chewy tannin that you need in a good grilling partner! It's densely flavored with ripe dark fruits and preserves, cocoa, subtle black current leaf and char notes, ending with a firm grip on the thick and juicy finish; a perfect accompaniment to high-protein dishes with bold flavors.
Lapostolle is an impressive Chilean winery with French heritage that was created by Alexandra Lapostolle-Marnier and her husband to make high-quality wines at reasonable prices, while minimizing their impact on the environment. The "Cuvee Alexandre," named for Alexandra's great grandfather who created Grand Marnier, is from an old, oganically farmed vineyard planted in the 1920s in the Colchagua region, whose climate has a lot in common with California's central coast.
Pick up a bottle and give it a decant while your meal is cooking...we think you'll be impressed that it cost less than $20! And for that price, you might consider putting some aside in your wine cooler to try over the coming years...they will reward your patience.
JAMES SUCKLING 95 POINTS - "This is wonderfully polished and refined with a sexy tannin texture that caresses your palate. Medium-to full-bodied and very refined and polished, showing such elegance, focus and roundness. Drinkable now, but better in 2021."
- Item #: i_382373Bottle Size: 750mlJames Suckling: 92Our Wine of the Month #2 for September is the Cousino-Macul winery's Cabernet Sauvignon-dominant red, the "Dama de Plata," coming from high-altitude sites of the Alto Maipo Valley of Chile! The towering Andes mountains provide the needed irrigation in this warm and dry climate, and the higher altitude keeps the ripe-fruited wines from becoming too blousy or flabby.
The delightful "Dama de Plata" has ripe blackcurrant, plum, and balsam aromas and on the medium-weighted palate it's soft and juicy with flavors of ripe, sweet fruit, hints of oak and Cabernet's classic green bell pepper, with an herbal quality in the finish that makes for a balance of fruit and savor.
Chile might be a relatively recent wine region for us, but they have a long history, like much of the Americas, due to Europeans arriving with vines. But the real wine industry took off in the 1800s as mineral mining was generating a lot of wealth; it became popular to travel to France where they fell in love with the finer grape varieties, which they brought back to make better wine. The Cousino-Macul family wine estate was founded in 1856 in this manner: the name "Dama de Plata" (Lady of Silver) refers to the widow Isidora Goyenechea who ran the estate and silver mining business for decades, and their Cabernet clones come from Pauillac in Bordeaux.
JAMES SUCKLING 92 POINTS - "Cool and savory with just a hint of something vegetal this is a really elegant wine with the vitality you expect of Chile. A long, very clean finish."
85% Cabernet Sauvignon + 10% Malbec + 5% Syrah