ONE OF CHILE’S BEST WINERIES
When connoisseurs talk about Chilean wineries, the conversation always gravitates towards huge, well- established enterprises. Yet experience shows that while old wineries with huge production can turn out excellent wines along with a number of lesser brands, the small relatively new, exclusively quality-oriented establishments have been making remarkably strong inroads into long established export turfs.
One such winery is Casa Lapostolle, which since 1994, has gained significant market share in world markets. This quality-oriented winery is owned by the Marnier Lapostolle family of Grand Marnier fame and managed by Alexandra Marnier-Lapostolle and her husband Cyril de Bournet. Don Jose Rabat Gorchs, a Chilean Entrepreneur, runs the company’s everyday operations.
I have been a fan of Casa Lapostolle wines since 1998after tasting their impeccably made Sauvignon Blanc. Ever since, the winery has improved quality and expanded its offering to red, also introduced many more whites.
The Marnier family is well known for its uncompromising approach to quality, and in their Chilean endeavour, the objective remains to use French expertise and Chilean terroir. Presently the winery owns 300 hectares of prime vineyards in the Rapel ad Colchagua Valleys and uses exclusively Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Semillon, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Carmenere and Syrah. Experience shows that other grape varieties grow less successfully on Chilean terroir.
The 150 000 case winery employs the consulting services of Michel Rolland the world famous Bordeaux flying-winemaker, and the wines show the expertise lavished on them during the vinification and aging.
Needless to say that grapes are of superb quality, originating in vineyards on high altitude and with restricted yields to ensure both physically and physiologically ripe fruit.
Casa Lapostolle’s permanent winemaker Michel Frion, a Frenchman, has an international and French winemaking background, including Cape Mentelle, Australia, Chateau Margaux, Bordeaux, and Domaine Paul bruno, Chile.
During a recent wine tasting, I had the opportunity to evaluate Casa Lapostolle’s Chardonnay Reserve 2001, Tanao (Chardonnay, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc) 2001, Chardonnay 2001, Merlot 2002, Tanao (a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Carmenere), and the flagship Clos Apalata 2000. Undoubtedly this excellent red wine consisting of 65 percent Merlot and Carmenere and 35 percent Cabernet Sauvignon is made to the highest standards and it shows. It’s deep and intense purple colour presages the delights to come. Aromatically it reminds one of blackberries, black cherries and raspberries. In the mouth it is smooth with integrated tannins. Multidimensional and full bodied. The aftertaste is exceptionally long and pleasing.
I can only state that every wine was impeccably made, fruity and balanced, reflecting the terroir superbly. Red wines were smooth and well knit, full bodied and possesses long aftertaste.
While wines confirmed how successful Chilean terroir can be in yielding fruit suitable for this category.
The Chardonnay Reserve 2001 was typical in its fruity aromas of pear and apples,. In the mouth, the textural refinement was immediately noticeable, along with a superb balance between alcohol and extract.
Tanao, a blend of Cardonnay, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc, was intriguiging to say the least. The first sniff reminded me of Chardonnay, but in the mount Semillon flavours came through buttressed by the pleasant acidity of Sauvignon Blanc.
Clearly, Casa Lapostolle wines are meant for enjoyment with food.
Reds can be enjoyed now, due to their integrated tannins, but also cellared for several years to come.
The best thing is that Casa Lapostolle wines are reasonably priced as Alexandra and Cyril de Bournet think wine must be of good quality, and reasonably priced. They have succeeded.
Look for Casa Lapostolle wines in your favourite store; they are exported to 20 countries worldwide.
Article contributed by Hrayr Berberoglu, a Professor Emeritus of Hospitality and Tourism Management specializing in Food and Beverage. Books by H. Berberoglu