When I was in Italy I received and invitation to have lunch in NYC with Andrés Caballero, Winemaker Director of Carolina Wine Brands, but did not know if I could make it. However once I returned, I saw I was free so I accepted and was very glad that I did. I met Andres at La Grenouille Restaurant. There were just the two of us and I had a delightful time speaking with Andrés about his wines, wine in general, food and travel.
Santa Carolina is part of Carolina Wine Brands, one of the leading wine groups in Chile, which belongs to the Watt’s S.A. agribusiness group owned by the Larrain family. The flagship brand is Vina Santa Carolina. Viña Santa Carolina was founded by Louis Pereyra Cotapos in 1875 He named the winery after his wife, Carolina. Santa Carolina is located in Macul, Santiago – Chile
Santa Carolina 2017 Cuarteles Experimentales 2017 The grapes are from 80 year old dry farmed head trained vines located in San Rosendo, Biobio. There is an early harvest by hand to preserve the natural acidity and freshness Native alcoholic fermentation in small stainless steel tanks. Malolactic fermentation takes place in low capacity tanks. This is a wine with ripe fruity flavors with hints of raspberry, blackberry and a touch of violet. Alcohol 11.5%
This ripe fruity wine was a perfect combination with the foie gras
Dolmen Alto Cachapoal 2015 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. The two-hectare vineyard is situated in the Totihue estate, Alto Cachapoal. It is on a 50-degree slope and the soil has a high slate content. Andres said the roots grow deep into the cracks formed in the rocks to absorb minerals. Head training system and extreme viticulture techniques are used. The area is under the climate influence of the Cachapoal River, which produces sharp temperature differences between day and night. There is an early harvest the first week of April. Alcoholic fermentation takes place in vats, followed by post fermentation for 3 weeks. Then the wine is directly transferred to foudres. André said a foudre is a large wooden vat with a capacity to hold more than 1,000 liters.
This is a wine that is drinking very well now but will last for another 10 years. This wine has a fruity bouquet with hints of red fruit and a touch of bell pepper. I really liked the wine and could not stop drinking it. Alcohol 12.5%
Luis Pereira 2012 made from 90% Canernet Sauvignon 5% Cabernet Franc, 2% Malbec and 3% other varieties from 70 year old vines, on average, situated in different areas of the Central Valley in Chile. The soils vary depending on location and range from sandy loam with thin layers of clay-to-clay loam. The climate is Mediterranean with hot and dry summers, with little rainfall and cold and often rainy in winter. The harvest is from March 12 to 22 approximately one month earlier than current traditional harvest. Andrés said that fourteen days prior to harvest, 2% of the grapes from the Louis Pereira’s vineyard blocks are harvested in order to prepare the started yeast with the corresponding yeasts from different vineyards. Grapes are handpicked and the preferment agent is prepared 14 days in advance with native yeasts from different vineyards. There is traditional fermentation with pumping over and without adding acids. Maceration is short and consistent with the old Santa Carolina recipe before starting the one-year aging in old barrels. The different lots are defined and the wine base is prepared, and will age for another year in French oak casks. The wine has hints of cherry, blackberry, plum, red pepper and tobacco. The wine will age. 12.8% Alcohol
Though very different in style, the last two reds went very well with the roast chicken.
Andres also spoke about the Rescue Project. After the earthquake of 2010, old documents explaining the vinification practices and process that took place in the mid 20th century were found in the rubble of the collapsed Viña Santa Carolina buildings along with a library of older wines. This led to the rescue project:
-Making Luis Pereira, a wine with Santa Carolina’s recipe from the 20th Century.
-Bloque Herencia, a rescue of pre-phylloxera vineyards and vitis vinifera vines which arrived in Chile between colonial times and the 19th-century.
-Over 1,000 vines dating back to 1912 were transplanted from Miraflores Estate to the Totihue Estate in Alto Cachapoal. Grape Varieties: Cesar Noir (Romano) Merlot, four Cabernet Sauvignon phenotypes, Cabernet Franc, Pals and Tintoria