Wines of Chile: Maipo Valley



By Kori ~ November 27th, 2012.

During my recent media trip to Chile, I had the pleasure to visit a number of its wineries and vineyards and meet many of the movers and shakers in the Chilean wine industry. I am individually highlighting some of the wine regions we visited including reviews of wines I tasted from those regions. Today, I am focusing on the Maipo Valley, the closest wine region to the city of Santiago.

The Maipo Valley spans from the Andes to the coast and is one of Chile’s oldest and most well-known wine regions. Best known for its red wines, the Maipo Valley does well with Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, and Syrah. We tasted a number of wines from several producers whose grapes came from the Maipo Valley. Our winery visits in the Maipo Valley were to Santa Rita and Santa Carolina.

Founded in 1880 by Domingo Fernandez Concha, Santa Rita Winery was among the first to pioneer plantings of European grape varieties in Chile. In 1980, its present owner, Gruppo Claro, acquired Santa Rita. The winery has vineyards in several of Chile’s appellations including the Maipo Valley, Apalta, Casablanca, Rapel, Leyda, and Curico. Santa Rita’s total production is about 1.7 million cases per year. Casa Real was the Concha family’s summer home. Today, it is recognized as a National Monument of Chile and has been converted to a hotel with 16 rooms. Santa Rita uses the house image on its labels. The winery property is gorgeous and tourist-friendly with stately buildings, a beautiful chapel, a museum, restaurants, and a park in addition to its production facilities. The park on the grounds covers 43 hectares and has a very European feel. They host classical concerts to mark the beginning of each season.

Santa Carolina is one of the oldest wineries in Chile, founded in 1875. Founded by four winemakers who came from France, the house on the Santa Carolina property was built in 1875 and is a Chilean national monument. It was damaged during the 2010 earthquake, and it had to be rebuilt exactly as it was. Today, the house is used as offices for the winery. Santa Carolina was the first Chilean winery to receive an award outside of Chile, in France in 1889.

Wines I tasted from the Maipo Valley during my recent media trip:

2007 Santa Rita Triple C (Maipo Valley, Chile): 65% Cabernet Franc, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Carmenere. Deep, dark, dense purple. Gorgeous nose with black cherry, smoked meat, and black pepper aromas. Black fruit, smoked meat, spice, and black pepper come through on the palate. Full-bodied with crisp acidity and high, silky tannins. Well-balanced and smooth with a very long, lingering finish. A lovely wine.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Suggested Retail Price: $35

2009 Santa Rita Medalla Real Cabernet Sauvignon (Maipo Valley, Chile): 95% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc. Deep, dark, dense red. Nice nose with aromas of blackcurrant and smoke. Blackcurrant, smoke, cocoa, and licorice come through on the palate. Full-bodied with lively acidity and high, chewy tannins. Well-balanced and smooth with a very long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Suggested Retail Price: $19.99

2009 Viña Ventisquero Grey Cabernet Sauvignon (Maipo Valley, Chile): 94% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Petit Verdot. Deep, dark red. Gorgeous nose with red and black fruit, black pepper, and floral aromas. Blackberry, black raspberry, mint, and floral notes come through on the palate. Full-bodied with lively acidity and big, bold tannins. Well-balanced with good mouthfeel and a long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Suggested Retail Price: $29

2009 Santa Rita Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon (Maipo Valley, Chile): Deep, dark red. Aromatic with blackcurrant, black cherry, and oak on the nose. More blackcurrant and black cherry as well as licorice and leather come through on the palate. Full-bodied with lively acidity, high, dry tannins, and a very long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Suggested Retail Price: $12.99

2009 Santa Carolina VSC Assemblage (Maipo Valley, Chile): Blend of Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Mourvedre, and Carmenere. Deep, dark purple. Lovely nose with black plum, oak, and leather aromas. Jammy black fruit, leather, and black pepper come through on the palate. Full-bodied with crisp acidity, medium to high tannins, and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 1 bang for your buck (out of 5)
Suggested Retail Price: $50

2010 Santa Carolina Reserva de Familia Cabernet Sauvignon (Maipo Valley, Chile): Deep, dark, dense red. Nose is a bit tight. Blackcurrant, black cherry, and spice come through on the palate. Full-bodied with lively acidity, high, dry tannins, and a long finish.
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Suggested Retail Price: $17-20

2010 Santa Rita Reserva Merlot (Maipo Valley, Chile): Deep ruby red. Aromatic with black plum, oak, and smoke on both the nose and palate. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity, medium, dry tannins, and a long finish.
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Suggested Retail Price: $12.99

Be sure to come back as I individually highlight more Chilean wine regions in the coming weeks.

Salud!


Filed under: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chilean Wine, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Merlot, Red Wine, Wine Travel, Wines Over $25, Wines Under $15, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25

Reader's Comments

  1. Bill | November 28th, 2012 at 10:07 am

    Was suprised you gave Santa Rita such high praise. But i did like your QPR ratings.

  2. Kori | November 28th, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Bill,
    Overall I was very impressed with Santa Rita. Even though they have a high production level, they are making excellent wines across a variety of price points. And their high end wines, which are not seen as often here in the US, are outstanding. Cheers!

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