Cabernet Sauvignon from Maule Valley, Central Valley, Chile
100% cabernet sauvignon
Purchased: 6 March 2017 – $19.99
Opened: 28 Feb 2018
Wine and Spirits: 94
James Suckling: 90
Cellar Tracker: 90
Wine Enthusiast: 87
Maule Valley, the largest wine-producing region in Chile and the southern-most region in Chile’s Central Valley, is tucked in-between the Andes and the Coastal Ranges. The region is named after the east to west flowing Maule River with its headwaters in the western slopes of the Andes Mountains and emptying 50-60 miles downstream into the Pacific Ocean near the small, impoverished city of Constitucion. Due to the Valley’s more southern location in the Central Valley it has cooler temperatures than its northern counterparts but because the Coastal Range’s have lower elevations here the rain shadow is also reduced resulting in more rainfall than up north, particularly in the winter.
The region’s wine history dates back to the mid-1800s when successful Chilean businessmen brought back pre-Phylloxera European vine cuttings to grow in the Valley’s igneous and alluvial soils, primarily along the Maule River. Initially the region grew predominately Pais grapes, generally used for bulk wine sales and table wines but in the recent past most of those vineyards have been replaced with better known selections such as Cabernet Sauvignon, a grape that now accounts for half the 75,000 vine acres planted in the Maule Valley.
Cabernet Sauvignon is a cross, believed to have occurred naturally sometime in the 1600s in southwestern France, between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc grapes. It is now the most widely planted grape in the world. Chile is second only to France in the number of acres planted world-wide in this grape. It is a thick-skinned grape that’s relatively easy to grow and maintain, exhibiting high tannins and acidity, producing a distinct bell pepper flavor, especially in cool climates, along with aromas of mint and eucalyptus. The grapes produce a full-bodied and dark-ruby colored wine.
The Alcance winery, founded in 1993, is a Jackson Family enterprise that was instrumental in improving the entire winemaking industry in the Maule Valley. The family introduced modern techniques to the Valley, through the Alcance winery, and the rest, as they say, is history. The winery started with the lower elevation San Francisco Estate vineyards in the southwestern portion of the Valley. The vines enjoy the cool Pacific winds blowing over their canopy with their roots tapped into soils clogged with large quartz crystals. The growing season temperatures for the San Francisco vineyards ranges from 60-80ºF with rainfall 0.25-1.00″ per month. In 1999 the Jackson Family added the El Maiten Estate winery and vineyards in the southeastern Maule Valley to their Chilean holdings. The El Maiten vineyards are located in the Andes foothills along the Lircay River, a tributary of the Maule River. The vines grow in a loamy soil containing numerous pebbles and cobbles. The growing season temperatures for the El Maiten area ranges from 60-85ºF with rainfall 0.25-0.75″ per month. Both vineyards total about 200 acres planted in 10 to 20-year-old vines. The winery produces 5 wines under its Alcance label: Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Merlot, VIGNO (an old vine Carignan), and Bravura, their celebrated Bordeaux blend.
This wine is produced from a rough 50-50 mix of grapes from both vineyards. The Cabernet Sauvignon vines were 10 to 11-years old for this 2014 vintage. After the grapes are hand harvested, they are hand sorted, cold macerated for 6 days, and fermented in small stainless steel tanks for 20-22 days. Malolactic fermentation is done in French oak barrels for 18 months with 3 intervening racks.
A clear ruby-red wine with a tawny rim. Aromas of cherries and raisins with an oak supplied vanilla in the background. Full-bodied and balanced with a very pleasant, long finish.
Enjoy with a traditional South American stew: Charquican. You will need a pound of cubed beef (cheap to expensive; your choice), a tablespoon of flour, quarter stick of butter, 2 cups of beef stock, a big chopped onion, a teaspoon or two of minced garlic, 2 tablespoons of oil, 1-3 teaspoons of chili peppers finely minced (less or more depending on how spicy you want the stew), 1 cup corn, 1 cup carrots sliced, 2 cups diced potatoes, salt and pepper. Coat the cubes of beef with the flour. Season with salt and pepper. Add to skillet over medium-high heat along with the melted butter. Cook beef until brown. Add the beef stock and simmer for 10 minutes. Transfer the contents of the skillet to a slow cooker. With the remains of the beef and the beef stock in the skillet add the oil, onion, garlic, chili pepper and cook until the onions are soft. Add the remaining vegetables except the corn to skillet and cook for 5 minutes more. Add the skillet contents to the slow cooker and cook for 6-8 hours. Add in the corn about an hour before serving. Serve over rice. Delicious. I made this from a modified recipe I found on The Spruce but I left out the squash, beans, and beef jerky; otherwise it was exactly the same:)
An outstanding wine at a fair price. Drink now, but should last until 2023-2025. Decant and aerate for one hour, or more, before drinking.