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Santa Rita Medalla Real Carmenere 2011
Delicious with steak, barbecue, venison, game birds, and ripe blue cheeses.
In 1980, it was acquired by its present owner, Ricardo Claro, under whom Santa Rita has reaped the rewards of continuous investment, resulting in a period of impressive growth, during which the winery has consolidated its position in the vanguard of Chile's most successful and innovative estates. Initiatives include the highly successful launch of Santa Rita’s 120 Series of wines and a range of ultra-premium wines, notably the highly acclaimed Casa Real and Triple C. Wide-ranging enhancements embrace the purchase of choice new vineyards, plantings with top quality clones, improved trellising and irrigation, balanced viticulture, restricted yields, later harvesting, individual block farming, small-lot vinification, and an increased emphasis on sustainable agriculture.
Today Santa Rita exports to more than 70 countries worldwide. The property accounts for outstanding vineyards in Chile’s most important appellations - the Maipo Valley; Casablanca; Rapel; Apalta; Leyda and Curico - enabling access to diverse climates and terrain.
Well-regarded for intense and exceptionally high quality red wines, the Colchagua Valley is situated in the southern part of Chile’s Rapel Valley, with many of the best vineyards lying in the foothills of the Coastal Range.
Heavy French investment and cutting-edge technology in both the vineyard and the winery has been a boon to the local viticultural industry, which already laid claim to ancient vines and a textbook Mediterranean climate.
The warm, dry growing season in the Colchagua Valley favors robust reds made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenère, Malbec and Syrah—in fact, some of Chile’s very best are made here. A small amount of good white wine is produced from Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Dark, full-bodied and herbaceous with a spicy kick, Carménère found great success with its move to Chile in the mid-nineteenth century. Far from its birthplace of Bordeaux, Carménère once accompanied Malbec and Petit Verdot as a minor blending grape there. But the variety went a bit undercover, impressing wine lovers until 1994 when many plantings previously thought to be Merlot, were profiled as Carménère. Regardless of what vine variety it actually was, these have proven successful and plantings continue to increase.
In the Glass
Carménère can express a bit of herbaceous character or black pepper but in warm climates or with additional hangtime before harvest, it makes wines reminiscent of blackberry, blueberry and dark plum, with rich and savory notes of chocolate, coffee, smoke and soy sauce.
Carménère makes a great match for a hearty steak or barbecued red meat. It can also work well with white meat when prepared with a mole sauce or spice rub.
Perhaps Carménère’s herbal character can be explained in part by familial relations—due to the strange nature of grapevine breeding, Carménère is both a progeny and a great-grandchild of the similarly flavored Cabernet Franc.