FIRST CLASS SANTA RITA WINES
|Carlos (right) and yours truly at Isaacs|
Carlos Gatica, Chief Winemaker with Santa Rita, the second biggest wine producer in Chile, was in Cork yesterday and brought a strong line-up to the Gilbeys Wine Tasting Lunch at Isaacs.
Many of you will be familiar with the Chilean winery’s 120 series and Carlos referred to the story (with a strong Irish connection) behind the 120 and you may read more on that here.
Santa Rita’s current mission though is to “educate” their Irish sellers, including hotels and restaurants who were well represented here, in an effort to broaden the appreciation of the better Santa Rita wines and particularly their reservas.
The introductory handshake was a very pleasant concentrated white: the Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2010. This was accompanied by a selection of tempting tapas.
Could have happily stayed with those tasty bites but move on we did and Carlos then presented their 2009 Gran Reserva Medalla Real Chardonnay,
This has quite an intense bouquet and is a well balanced wine with silky texture and went down well with a warm salad of Marinated Chicken, smoked bacon and rustic potatoes.
Now it was on to the steak and the first of the reds. This was the superb Pehmén Carménère 2007 made with grapes from an old vineyard in the Apalta Valley. Aging is in 100% French oak barrels for 18 months. Really liked this flavoursome persistent wine.
The cheese made its appearance as it was time for the piece de résistance: a vertical tasting of the classic Casa Real. This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon “seeks to obtain the maximum expression of the Alto Jaheul terroir”. New French oak barrels are used.
Many of you will know that vertical tasting means tasting the same wine from different years. The vintages at Isaacs were 2007, 2002 and 1999. The still young 2007, marginally higher in ABV @ 14.5%, was of excellent quality, the fruit concentrated after a good year, but was overshadowed by the other two.
The very elegant and concentrated 2002 (14.4%) was perhaps my favourite. Well balanced with ripe flavours and tannins, it has a full body and “a sleek finish”.
No vote was taken but the number one choice was the 1999 (4.3%), an “opulent” wine from an “opulent” year. The winemaker’s comments covered it all: "As a terroir concept, the 1999 vintage has been undoubtedly considered as the maximum expression of a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon to date.”
Interesting to note that Santa Rita has a presence in six wine areas of the country, allowing it to grow many different kinds of grape and expand its portfolio. Some of their areas are north of Santiago de Chile, some to the south (Carlos lives in Curicó), some are close to the coast, others in the foothills of the Andes. The valleys are Limari, Casablanca, Leyda, Rapel, Maipo and Apalto.
Credit to Gilbeys for putting on this excellent event “the first of many around the country”. Well done also to Carlos for his descriptions and humour and for bringing such a stunning selection to Isaacs.