Cabernet Sauvignon from Maipo Valley, Central Valley, Chile
100% cabernet sauvignon
Purchased: 6 January 2017 – $15.99
Opened: 3 May 2017
James Suckling: 94
Wine Advocate: 89
Cellar Tracker: 89
The Central Valley wine region, aka, the Inland Valleys, of Chile is a 250-mile north-south region nestled within the 600-mile north-south depression between the western Coastal Ranges and the eastern Andes, all within the central part of country. The wine region extends from northern most, heavily vined, Maipo Valley, near the capital city of Santiago, down to the table wine capital of Maule Valley in the south, which shares its southern border with the Bio-Bio region. Geographically analogous to the California Inland Valleys with the Central Valley bracketed by the Coastal Ranges to the west and the Sierra Nevadas to the east. Unlike the Inland Valleys of California, the Inland Valleys of Chile have a greater diversity of terroir requiring a narrowing of focus before climate, soils and rainfall can be adequately discussed.
Chile is the 8th largest producer of wine, by volume, in the world while the Central Valley wine region produces around 85%, by volume, of all wine in Chile. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, Petit Verdot, Syrah, Carmenere and Carignan grapes dominate the plantings in the Inland Valleys. Cabernet Sauvignon accounts for more than a third of all vines planted in Chile and almost 50% of the vines in Maipo Valley.
Maipo Valley, an area of 276,000 acres has a little more than 11% of those acres dedicated to growing grapes, and Cabernet Sauvignon is the reigning monarch on these regal lands. Most Chilean wines of prestige come from here, often referred to as the Bordeaux of South America. Like the Rioja wine region in Spain, Maipo Valley is divided into 3 sub-regions based on altitude: Alto, Medio or Central, and Bajo or Pacific; Maipo. Alto Maipo vineyards on the western foothills of the Andes are the area’s crown jewels, producing extraordinary Bordeaux blends from vineyards more than 1300′ above sea level, and as high as 2600′. Down slope and to the west from Alto are the Medio Maipo vineyards producing slightly less discriminating wines. Lower down and further west are the wineries, not necessarily the vineyards, of Bajo Maipo; producers of good wines if sourced from the higher elevations to the east.
Cabernet Sauvignon is the most widely grown grape in the world; coming from zero in the mid-1600s, when it was established as a new species by the natural cross-breeding of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc grapes, then rapidly ascending to the prominence of being planted in one out of every 16 vine cultivated acres. A black, thick-skinned grape that has multitude of aromas and flavors from pepper to mint to jam. With its high tannins and medium acidity it possess the potential for a long shelf life of ageing and consumers just can’t get enough of it.
Juan Cuneo Solari, the son of an Italian immigrants, established, in 1993, the Casas del Bosque winery. He located it west of Maipo Valley in Casablanca Valley, smack dab in the middle of the Coastal Ranges. He has vineyards in the valley but sources the grapes for his Gran Reserva from Maipo Valley to the east. The winery only produces a limited 90,000 cases of wine, total for all varietals, per year, concentrating on quality over quantity. Their limited production is largely devoted to serving an international clientele via export.
Casas del Bosque produces grapes from 500 acres scattered around Chile’s better viticultural valleys and terroirs. The cooler climate Casablanca vineyards produce their white grapes; Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Riesling along with the reds; Pinot Noir and Syrah. Premium Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere reds are sourced from the warmer climate Rapel and Maipo Valleys. The Maipo Valley vineyards are located in both the Alto and Medio regions of the valley.
The grapes were harvested at the end of April and the beginning of May. The grapes were destemmed, crushed, and fermented for 10-15 days at temperatures as high as 90ºF. Following fermentation, an additional 5-day maceration supplied more time for skin color to find its way into the wine. The wine was then aged in new and used French oak barrels for 14-months with 3 intervening racks. The wine was aged for an additional 3-months in bottles before being released to the public.
A very good full-bodied, dark ruby-colored Cabernet Sauvignon with a spicy dried-fruit bouquet. The tannins are smooth and the wine has a long mellow fruity finish. This wine will hold up well for several years to come.
Enjoy with a South American favorite, beef filled empanadas. You can make your own pastry but we usually just use a loaf of frozen bread dough. I seen others use frozen pizza dough. Let the bread dough thaw and rise. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil, add 1 pound of ground beef, 1 tablespoon of fresh garlic, and cook till well done. Salt to taste. Drain off excess oil and set aside. In the same pan add the remaining olive oil and heat. Add 2 tablespoons of tomato past, 2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1-3 teaspoons of tabasco sauce, 5 cloves of garlic, minced, or 1 tablespoon, 1 chopped green and red bell pepper, 1 chopped medium onion and fry it all for about 10 minutes; stirring a lot until everything is soft. Add in the ground beef and simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. After the bread dough has risen, cut the 4-6″ diameter tube into 1/4″ slices; less than the thickness of the tip of your little finger. Lay the slices flat and add just enough of the beef mixture to allow you to fold the circle in half creating a bulging half-moon. Crimp the open edge with a fork. Either using a wok or a deep fryer, heat, to 350ºF, sufficient lard or oil to cover several empanadas at one time. Fry until golden brown, about 5-8 minutes depending on size. Empanadas actually taste better the next day. Experiment by adding small cubes of boiled potatoes, carrots, or shredded pork. Cover with melted cheese if desired. Dipping in sour cream or guacamole is an added pleasure.
An outstanding wine at a nice price. Drink this year but likely will be good until 2022-2024. Decant and aerate for one hour, or more, before drinking. A great value wine that is now, rather scarce. The link below had the wine at the time of this posting.
$16.95 Atlas Wine Sales