Wine: Casa Lapostolle Merlot
Grapes: Merlot (85 percent), carmenere (9 percent), other varieties (6 percent)
Region: Colchagua Valley, Chile
Availability: Lee’s Discount Liquors
In the glass: Casa Lapostolle Merlot is a deep purplish red with an opaque violet-red core, going out into a saturated ruby- to fuchsia-red rim definition with medium-high viscosity.
On the nose: It is really expressive, with wonderful notes of crushed pure black fruit, dominated by blackberries, black plums and cherries. It also features classic boysenberry sorbet and hints of raspberry and phenols, fruit-driven minerals, sweet tobacco, spice box and cedar wood.
On the palate: This is a nicely chewy wine with a delicious attack of wild cherries, loganberries and blueberry notes going into a greatly balanced midpalate. The finish is impressive, lingering for 20-plus seconds with lovely delineation of black fruits, supple tannins and hints of concord grapes. This wine comes out of the bottle highly drinkable.
Odds and ends: It is no wonder I keep coming back to Chilean wines; they collectively represent some of the best values in the market today. Casa Lapostolle is in this category. While the winery itself is in Colchagua south of Santiago, the fruit for this wine comes from several great vineyards the company owns in a variety of locations. The soil is a main reason these luscious, yet affordable wines can be made so well. Vines grown on this type of soil are responsible for some of the greatest wines made in the world today, but especially in France’s Bordeaux region. It’s no coincidence that owner Alexandra Marnier-Lapostolle originally hired well-known French wine consultant Michel Rolland to help create these exciting wines, but Jacques Begarie is the day-to-day chief winemaker who makes it all happen. Though they create several high-end red wines, such as Clos Apalta and Cuvee Alexander Merlot, they also make some well-balanced everyday drinking wines, and this Casa Merlot is an example.
It can use about a half-hour to “breathe” out of the bottle and should be served at right around 63 degrees Fahrenheit. Try it with a hearty wild mushroom risotto. It should drink well through 2018.
Gil Lempert-Schwarz’s wine column appears Wednesdays. Write him at P.O. Box 50749, Henderson, NV 89106-0749, or email him at email@example.com.