Cabernet Sauvignon from Colchagua Valley, Rapel Valley, Central Valley Region, Chile
100% cabernet sauvignon
Purchased: 6 March 2017 – $9.99
Opened: 16 Feb 2018
James Suckling: 92
Falstaff Magazin: 91
Wine Spectator: 88
Cellar Tracker: 86
Colchagua Valley is in the southern and western portions of Rapel Valley, which itself is located in the middle of the 250 mile long Central Valley, all situated between the Andes to the east and the Coastal Ranges to the west. The northern edge of the Colchagua Valley is defined by the life-giving Rapel River and its main tributaries: the Tinguiririca and Cachapoal Rivers. The valley, sheltered from the cold Pacific winds by the Coastal Ranges, has a mild Mediterranean climate, warm but not too hot, or too cold, with rainfall that averages about 24″ per year, the majority coming in the winter. The main wine of the valley is Cabernet Sauvignon but in recent years Malbec has been added to the vineyards to capitalize on their Argentinian success on the eastern side of the Andes. The better wineries of Colchagua Valley have their vineyards located on the eastern slopes of the Coastal Ranges.
270 years ago the Echenique family, Basque immigrants to Chile, established their vineyards and winery in the Peralillo area of the Colchagua Valley, currently a small commune of less than 10,000 people. The winery eventually acquired the name of Los Vascos meaning “The Basques” in Spanish. One hundred years later, in the 1850s, the family started to plant French derived vines and grapes which led to a large expansion of the vineyards and the wine industry in the area. In 1988 Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) acquired a 50% interest and management control of the Los Vascos property. The new management brought in new winery techniques and equipment; replanting many of the vineyards which presently and predominately, grow Cabernet Sauvignon (85%), but also Carmenere (5%), Syrah (4%), Malbec (1%), and Chardonnay (5%) grapes.
Cabernet Sauvignon is a cross, believed to have occurred naturally sometime in the 1600s in 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 of this grape. A thick-skinned grape that’s relatively easy to grow and maintain, exhibiting high tannins and acidity, along with cool climate-grown aromas of peppers and currants.
The vineyards, encompassing a little less than 1600 acres, range in age from 15-70 years. The vineyards are at about 425′ above sea level with soils of volcanic loams and granitic sands. Although the vineyards are less than 25 miles from the Pacific Ocean they are protected from its cold winds by the Coastal Ranges and enjoy a distinct 4 seasons of Mediterranean climate. Growing season temperatures have a diurnal range of approximately 50-85ºF and rainfall amounts average a very dry 0.5″ per month or less. During the southern hemisphere winters rainfall can exceed, but a still dry, 2″ per month. Because of the arid climate the vineyards are drip irrigated. The 2015 season saw unusually heavy spring rains which contributed to a late bud break. The harvest was normal though.
The harvest, mainly by manual hand picking, took place between April 1st and May 13th. The grapes were de-stemmed and crushed immediately after picking and fermentation took place in temperature-controlled stainless steel vats between 77-81°F. A maceration period ranging from 10-15 days was followed by a malolactic fermentation, also in stainless steel vats: unoaked, ostensibly, for the American palate.
A ruby-red color with a garnet rim. Aromas of red fruits and plums with a touch of herbs. On the tongue it is bold but balanced. A wonderful wine with a medium, fresh finish.
An outstanding wine at an outstanding price. A fine wine to pair with a fine, rich meal such as Osso Buco or a rib eye. Drink now, but should last until 2025. Decant and aerate for one hour before drinking.