It's hard to imagine that in 1875 , LUIS PEREIRA COTAPOS, a Chilean businessman and founder of SANTA CAROLINA Wines , had the vision to plant French vines of the classical Bordeaux grape varieties on his property.
Luis Periera Cotapos convinced a group of French winemakers, including GERMAINE BACHELET to pack up and move to Chile and make grape varietals they know so well. On top of that, the viniculturalists came with vines in hand and the tradition of Santa Carolina emerged.
The history of wine in Chile, began, mainly for religious purposes, in the 1500's. It wasn't until the mid-1800's, over 300 years later, did the consumption of wine reach the society outside of religious practices.
At that time in history, Chilean society was influenced by French society and their deep love for luxury goods, which included fine wine. That was the fire that created Santa Carolinas French varietals by the now 'visionary'. Luis Periera Cotapos.
Today, after years of success, Santa Carolina has grown in to a worldwide, middle-of-the-range, price wise leader in the wine industry. In 2004 a major overhaul of the company began, which included the purchase of state-of-the-art winemaking facilities paired with a major focus on sustainability and environmental practices.
Since 2005 , ANDREAS CABALLERO has been Santa Carolinas chief winemaker. I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon with Mr. Calallero , where he said " We produce wine that reflects our heritage, our history and our identity. Each of our wines looks for personality and complexity, expressing soil, fresh fruit characters and smooth tannins.
Andreas was correct.
The result is world-class wines that are full of personality and are readily available at reasonable prices.
The wines are as diverse as their origin, most coming from Chile's mountain range valleys, including Limari Valley in the north, coastal Casablanca and Leyda Valleys and Cachapoal Valley in the south.
My focused tasting with Andreas included his 2011 Santa Carolina 'RESERVA' Collection. I first sampled Santa Carolina 2011 Sauvignon Blanc Reserva. The wine is made from grapes from the Leyda Valley, noted for rolling hills, cool nights and is only three miles from the Pacific Ocean and near the Coastal Range. The cool nights make it an ideal place for Sauvignon Blanc, yielding wines that are crisp with minimal acidity.
My second wine was the 2011 Pinot Noir Reserva from the Casablanca Valley. The Casablanca Valley's proximity to the Pacific Ocean brings early morning fog and cool afternoon ocean breezes that moderate the valley temperature and humidity. The climate combined with granite soils promote a long ripening period with low yields. The result of six months in French oak is a balanced wine with smooth acidity and light tannins.
The 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon 'Reserva' is made at the foot of the Andes Mountains in the Colchagua Valley. Deep rocky soils and a warm, dry climate cooled by mountain breezes make the valley perfect for producing Cabernet Sauvignon. Eight months in oak barrels create a well-balanced, full-bodied wine with rich, dark fruit overtones.
Santa Carolina 2011 Camenere 'Reserva' grapes grow in the Rapel Valley, an area noted for long summers of cool breezes and sunshine. The soil is made up of clay, sand and loam, ideal for producing concentrated wines with silky tannins.
As a result of my afternoon with Winemaker ANDREAS CABALLERO, I now fully appreciate the wines from Chile, especially those made under the SANTA CAROLINA label.
PHILIP S. KAMPE
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