A couple weeks ago we tasted the 2015 Primus Red Blend from Veramonte of Chile. Just below that information on the front label is the appellation of origin - Apalta. Below Apalta the label says "Colchagua - Chile." All of the above information is set out on a clean, off-white, matte label with a large ornate "P" centered in the top half of the label. Give 'em an "A" for classiness. Well done, Veramonte!
So Apalta is the title of this post and it was just last year on August 21st that we blogged about the place and its newly designated Apalta appellation. Scroll down to that post if you want to learn more about the legal definitions and Chile's novel concept of "climate designations." It's a good read.
The new Apalta appellation was carved out of the larger Colchagua appellation. The Chilean appellation system is most similar to California's system and California has several smaller wine appellations within larger appellations. The Central Coast is the greatest example of that. In Apalta's case not only are they within Colchagua but that region is within the Rapel region which is within the Central Valley of Chile where virtually all of the better wines of Chile come from.
Apalta has the finest vineyard land in Chile, which is the backstory for all of the legal definitions. It is a horseshoe-shaped river valley with around 1,000 hectares planted in red grapes. The appellation is sheltered to the north, east, and west by mountains with the Pacific Ocean's Humbolt Current from Antarctica moderating the region's Mediterranean climate. That climate has sunny, warm and dry summers and mild winters. Apalta also has the diurnal temperature shift of warm days and cool nights, essential for creating ripe fruit with good acidity. The daytime sun ripens the berries while the cool nights develop the acidity.
The alluvial soils of Apalta are a sandy/clay loam in the valley with granitic soils on the hillsides. In the local dialect, Apalta means "poor soil." Wine grapes love poor dry nutrient-lacking soils where they have to struggle to survive.
The three great grapes of the region are Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere and Syrah. The Cabernet, Carmenere and other Bordeaux varietal grapes do best in the bottom land while the Syrah and other Rhone varietals do best on the hillsides.
Our Primus is a Cabernet-based blend with large portions of Merlot and Carmenere and bits of Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. It would serve well with most any roasted red meat or something on the grill.
Please join us this Thursday at 5pm when Dominique rejoins us for a tasting from his fine Italian/French portfolio.