And so to Santa Rita. The estate was founded in 1880 by Don Domingo Fernández Concha, who can be regarded is one of the pioneers of modern Chilean viticulture. He brought high quality French grape varieties to the Maipo Valley, to the south of Santiago. Today the company owns more than 3,700 hectares of vineyards. Recently, I was fortunate to be invited to a seminar hosted by Patrick Schmitt of The Drinks Business and Sebastián Lebbé, head winemaker at Viña Santa Rita. This was held in the reserved surroundings of The Pall Mall Room at the Army & Navy Club in London. Now, there is a trend in the wine industry to hold events in the so-called trendy warehouses in Shoreditch and other 'hip' areas, but give me classic surroundings when there is fine wine to be assessed. I have no doubt that the chemistry of buildings impacts upon the aroma perceptions of wines.
I compared and contrasted seven Santa Rita wines, ranging from the 2013 to 2019 vintages. One of the wines, 'Triple C' is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Carménère from the Maipo region. The other six wines were at least 85% Carménère, all from Colchagua, including three from Alpalta which, as we have already noted, has perfect conditions for the variety. All the wines were really good, but my clear favorite was the 2017 Floresta - 100% Carménère. The nose is incredibly perfumed, even floral, and then develops with a rich melange of summer fruits. The palate exudes red and black berry fruits with some peppery notes. The wine is well structured, but the tannins are already silky, and the finish really long. And, with an alcohol of just 13.2%, it is a wine for drinking and enjoying, not just sipping.
It's a few years since I've been to Chile - not that long ago I was taking groups of wine lovers every year. I really can't wait to go back, and a visit to Santa Rita will be a top priority. Until then, I will have to be content with the wines - pleasure now, and happiness tomorrow.