Grape(s): Carmenère, Cabernet Sauvignon
Localization: Colchagua Valley, Rapel Valley, Chile
Tasting Notes: Red-violet in color, brilliant and vivid, the Apaltagua Gran Reserva Envero shows ripe blackberries, tobacco, and spices. It possesses a remarkable combination of ripe fruit notes and oak mixed with vanilla. Its flavor is juicy, full, and concentrated, highlighting the softness in the mouth and the raspberry and plum tannins with a touch of tobacco. It has a long and lingering finish.
92 points Wine & Spirits: This wine’s green and red tones come together to parallel the contrasts in pastel de choclo, the traditional Chilean corn, and beef pie. Here, it’s dark green tobacco and meaty bitter chocolate against red fruit brightness.
Food pairing: It might sound strange, but it works, especially with chorizo, where the wine’s spice acts as an accelerant to the spice of the cured meat.
The Domain: Apaltagua is a winery that specializes in one distinguished, but lesser-known, grape varietal - carmenère. Carmenère is the "lost Bordeaux" variety, as it was originally planted in Bordeaux, but was abandoned there because it was too late ripening for their climate, but was known for producing very high quality and elegant wines. Thankfully, the carmenère variety was imported to Chile where it not only survives but makes exceptionally good wines in the hands of wineries like Apaltagua.
Apaltagua, owned by the seven Donoso Silva brothers, has a missionary-like zeal in its dedication to, and excitement about, the carmenère grape. The winery produces three levels of carmenère-based wines: Apaltagua Estate Carmenère, Apaltagua Envero Carmenère, and Apaltagua Grial Carmenère. Much of the fruit comes from ungrafted, 60-year old carmenère vines all located on the family estate in the prestigious Apalta district of Chile. The resulting wines are exceptionally good, with a chocolatey richness and a peppery edge, combining the best attributes of merlot and cabernet sauvignon in one grape.