The Chilean Wines of Jean Pascal Lacaze:
Anka Pargua, Domus Aurea, and PeÑalolÉn

Domus Aurea Jean Pascal Lacaze studied economics at Montpelier but soon succumbed to the lure of the vine and followed in the footsteps of his winemaking grandfather. Jean Pascal (pictured below) made wine in St. Émilion and, also, in Uruguay before joining Clos Quebrada de Macul, the home of the iconic Domus Aurea wine, in the Upper Maipo Valley east of Santiago de Chile.

The rocky, infertile soils of Clos Quebrada were planted to Cabernet Sauvignon in the 1970s. Over twenty years later, owner Ricardo Peña teamed up with famed enologist Ignacio Recabarren to make wine from the estate’s 25 ha vineyard. In 1996 Domus Aurea saw its first vintage and immediately won acclaim. In 2002, Frenchman Jean Pascal Lacaze became lead winemaker, and Patrick Valette, another Bordeaux enologist, joined as winemaking consultant. They joined the bevy of French winemakers and consultants in Chile that we discussed in Report #21 The Chilean Wine Revolution, published earlier this year.

Jean Pascal LacazeThe success of Domus Aurea led owner Ricardo Peña to branch out and establish two new labels-Anka Pargua and Peñalolén. We recently tasted products from all three wineries: Domus Aurea from Clos Quebrada de Macul, Anka Pargua II from Viña Pargua, and Peñalolén Cabernet Sauvignon from Viña Peñalolén. This is the first time we tasted the Anka Pargua II. We reported our evaluations of the 2005 Domus Aurea and the 2007 Peñalolen Cabernet Sauvignon in Report #21 with very similar results to those given here to the new vintages. These wines are imported by Global Vineyard Importers, Berkeley, CA.

Viña Pargua 2007 Anka Pargua II Upper Maipo ($20) 91

This wine is like a torta de mil hojas with multiple layers of fruit, loam earth, cedar and herbs on the bouquet and palate. The nose is a tantalizing bouquet of forest floor and red and black berry fruit. The palate is nicely structured and balanced with a texture woven of earth, herbs and cedar layered on top of pure red fruit. A blend of 30% Cabernet Franc, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 11 % Syrah, 6% Petit Verdot, and 2% Carmenere, this somewhat rustic (in a good sense of the word) wine should become increasingly elegant as it ages. Superb value!

Domus Aurea 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Upper Maipo ($60) 92

This is a deceptive wine. It starts off with earth, underbrush and shaved cedar aromas. Gorgeous ripe cassis fruit suddenly erupts on the palate, along with the earth, cedar and now a hint of smoke. And then comes the finish—long, very long, with pure notes of red cassis and firm, mature tannins. This is an elegant wine already, and with a little time in bottle it will become even more so. Our recommendation: buy a case. A blend of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc aged in new and 2nd use French oak for 18 months. Tiny yields (1.5t/acre) from the old vines of Clos Quebrada de Macul. [Note: The 2006 vintage of Domus Aurea is currently in the stores; the 2007 vintage will be released early 2011.]

Peñalolen 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Maipo Valley ($18) 89

This single vineyard wine is classic Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon and an excellent value, too. It has a varietally correct bouquet of cedar, smoke, and cassis. The palate is juicy with flavors of earth, oak barrique, and ripe plum fruit. It finishes with chalky tannins. Taken all together, this is very good wine for the money. It’s a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc.

Mike Potashnik and Don Winkler