Viña Apaltagua makes some of Chile’s highest value wines, and wines like its Signature Cabernet Sauvignon or Grial Carmenere show that it competes well at higher price levels, too. We recently tasted Apaltagua’s newest releases. For more on Apaltagua, see our earlier articles.
The general manager of Viña Apaltagua is Rodrigo Abarzúa, and the winemaker (since 2010) is Benjamin Mei, with consultant Alvaro Espinoza lending a hand on the Grial. Benjamin received his enology degree in Burgundy, after which he made wine in Pouilly-Fuissé, Languedoc-Roussillon, and Bordeaux before moving to Cbile to make wine in Colchagua in 2003.
The wines reviewed are good examples of the incredible values to be found in Chilean wines today. The wines reflect the best of modern winemaking–rich fruit, suave tannins, and a balanced mouthfeel–that one expects only in wines costing twice as much. We’ve reviewed Apaltagua wines for several vintages now, and we’re continually surprised by how lovely they are to drink and how little they cost.
Global Vineyard Importers of Berkeley, CA imports Apaltagua.
Apaltagua 2013 Chardonnay Unoaked Reserva Casablanca ($12) 87 This unoaked Chardonnay evokes a tropical fruit salad on the nose, followed and mirrored by off-dry, fruity flavors. It finishes clean and long but with a lingering tangy, lightly sweet tension. Perfect for Asian cuisine.
Apaltagua 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva Apalta Valley Estate Colchagua ($12) 90 Cedar spice and blackberry show on this excellent Cabernet Sauvignon, sourced from one of Chile’s premier wine growing regions. It’s concentrated, almost unctuous, with good richness and balance. One doesn’t usually recommend cellaring a wine at this price level, but the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva has the structure and richness of fruit to benefit from another year in bottle. Equal in quality to wines costing $25+.
Apaltagua 2011 Signature Cabernet Sauvignon Maipo Valley ($40) 91 Cedar and cassis show on the nose of this classically styled Cabernet Sauvignon. While a bit reserved on the nose, it reveals itself fully on the palate with rich dark fruit flavors complemented by notes of herbs and cedar. This is a full-bodied, elegantly-structured wine meant for steaks and other substantial fare. Aged in new French oak for 18 months.
Apaltagua 2012 Malbec Reserva Maule Valley ($12) 89 This wine is a cut above many inexpensive Malbecs. It shows very good balance on the palate, fresh red and black fruit flavors, and pleasing notes of spice, finishing medium long with an uplifting red fruit note. Very good.
Apaltagua 2011 Envero Gran Reserva Colchagua ($16) 89+ This Carmenère is amazingly lush and rich for the price with good depth of red fruit, herbs, and autumn leaves on a velvet textured palate. The fruit is sourced from 60+ year old vines in Apalta. Delicious.
Apaltagua 2013 Rosé Carmenere ($12) 87 Pale salmon pink. This is a very fresh, bright, and refreshing rosé revealing brisk acidity and notes of strawberry, rhubarb and herbs on a quite tart and mineral laden palate. Really needs food to show its best.
Mike Potashnik and Don Winkler