Tightly framed between a 4,270km stretch of low coastal mountains along the Pacific and a parallel spine of Andean peaks inland, most of Chile barely averages 175km in width. Unsurprisingly, for a long sliver of a country that crosses 38 degrees of latitude, this translates into a dynamic mix of climate and geography. The bookends range from desiccation in the northern Atacama Desert to mild Mediterranean conditions in the fertile Central Valley, to an alpine landscape of lake country, foggy fjords, and windswept glaciers in the southern third. Anchored around the capital of Santiago, the temperate midsection includes Valle del Maipo: the historical heartland of a wine industry whose heritage dates to the 16th century. In the five centuries since the so-called ‘Spanish Conquest,’ Chile’s potential has attracted at least three other significant waves of immigration. Among the personal effects for those of East and West-European descent in the early 20th-century, they also brought along new varieties of Vitis Vinifera (‘the vine that bears wine’). As for Syrah, Merlot, Carménère, and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, these cultivars have long evolved into versions that are now unmistakably Chilean.
With Viña Tarapacá Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 serving as one compelling example of what’s being produced at the Fundo El Rosario Estate in the Maipo Valley, Tarapacá’s lead winemaker, Sebastián Ruiz, is capably and consistently outputting globally price-competitive, premium offerings. In this terroir, with a long season of hot daytime followed by cooling at night, the Cab Sauvignon vines develop fully ripe fruit while maintaining a balance of vibrant acidity–an appealing combination that’s become a signature of contemporary Chilean wine-making.
Apart from Spain, Portugal, and Italy, where the wine ageing criteria of Reserva and Gran Reserva are definitively regulated and standardized, there remain many other regions where these terms are loosely interpreted. In other words, they may merely be marketing tools that reveal little about the finishing process of the wine in advance of its release. In Chile, these terms are categorized as ‘quality mentions,’ so it is left entirely to the vintner’s discretion to justify the description. Nonetheless, for reputable wineries such as Viña Tarapacá, they adhere to the principle that a bottle bearing these designations is of a higher quality than their standard offerings–and so this one is.
VINA TERAPACA GRAN RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2016
VINTAGES/LCBO – Product #18721 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 17.95
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD
Made in Maipo Valley, Chile
By: Vina San Pedro Tarapaca S.A.
Release Date: November 24, 2018
This 2016 wine has sufficient depth of garnet-red colouring to match the ‘Gran Reserva’ designation, e.g. a minimum of 12 months spent in oak (85% second-use barrels) and another year in bottle. What exceeds expectation is that the vintner has maintained a freshness to the earthy berry and dark cherry flavours while coaxing some subtle toffee and vanilla notes from the ageing in wood. This bottling will pair with the traditional food fare associated with Bordeaux reds. Try serving with grilled duck breast and beetroot, beef tenderloin and mushrooms or a spicy sausage risotto.