The SOMM Journal

February/March 2015

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Page 14 of 92

14 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } FEBRUARY/MARCH 2015 { the punch-down } SANTA RITA WINERY IN CHILE PRODUCES A RANGE OF WINES RETAILING from $7.99 to $80 and beyond per bottle, but its "Icon" range of terroir-driven wines are giving Napa, Bordeaux and Italian producers of similar offerings, a run for their money. Santa Rita's Triple C (a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Carménère) makes for a stellar alternative to Right Bank Bordeaux blends, while their Casa Real (100% Cabernet Sauvignon), made exclusively by Ilabaca's colleague, Cecilia Torres, recently celebrated 25 vintages and has been compared in blind tast- ings to Howell Mountain in Napa and Bolgheri in Italy. Jonathan Cristaldi: Who were your winemaking mentors? Andrés Ilabaca: I would say that the ones who have influenced me the most are Martin Shaw [of Shaw + Smith], the late [consultant] Jacques Boissenot and Brian Croser [of Petaluma and Tapanappa]. Winemaking is a world of learning that never ends. No one person has the best methods; you have to pick and choose from each. How has winemaking evolved in Chile over the last ten years? Work in the vineyards has become the primary focus—new growing areas best suited for white varieties and for Pinot Noir, coupled with better vineyard man- agement to best express each variety, and picking grapes at their optimum ripeness are all being utilized. Better fruit along with new and ancient techniques combined are allowing us to create more dynamic wines today. Tell us about your new releases from the Floresta range. We are producing Cabernet Franc and Merlot from Pumanque, a new vine- yard located on the coast of Colchagua, and Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc from Leyda. All our efforts are aimed at showcasing the "regionality" of Chile, which in the future will offer the best way to express what Chile really is in terms of viticulture. interviews and ruminations with beverage industry pros by Jonathan Cristaldi Career Highlights: 1985: Andrés Ilabaca gradu- ates from Chile's Pontical Catholic University with a degree in agronomy and enology. 1985–1996: Ilabaca works as the enologist at Viña Canepa, traveling extensively to New Zealand, Australia, the U.S., Italy and France with stints at Mondavi, Château Pétrus, Château Margaux and many others. 1996: hired as head winemaker for Santa Rita winery, a position he holds to this day. "Icon" Wines of Chile's Santa Rita ANDRÉS ILABACA'S TERROIR-DRIVEN, REGIONAL-SPECIFIC VARIETAL WINES ARE SHINING LIGHT ON MAJOR STRIDES IN WINEMAKING AND VITICULTURE IN CHILE "Icon" Vineyard Facts Santa Rita Bougainville: A pergola trellis system where Petite Sirah is grafted onto Ribier grapes planted in 1978 on a loam clay soil over a stony bed in the Maipo Valley. Current release: 2010 (SRP $80). Santa Rita Casa Real: A 40-year- old vineyard in the Maipo Valley, planted in a loam clay soil on a stony bed at 1 to 1.2 meters. This is the perfect soil to produce Cabernet Sauvignon. Grapes grow with moderate vigor, and naturally low yields in an ideal climate for healthy ripening. Current release: 2010 (SRP $85). Santa Rita Pehuén: Planted in 1938 an east-facing vineyard that lies in the foothills of Apalta in the Colchagua Valley. The Carménère vineyards are not irrigated, and deep loam soils allow the fruit to grow and moderate the vigor, avoiding water stress. Early veraison allows timely ripening, and creates a naturally low yield and concentrated grapes. Current release: 2007 (SRP $70). Santa Rita Triple C: Vineyards planted in 1994 in the Maipo Valley, and the crop naturally produces no more than six tons per hectare. Old vine Cabernet Sauvignon and Carménère lend superb structure to the mid-palate, with Cabernet Franc rounding out the wine, resulting in elegance, balance and persistence. Current release: 2008 (SRP $40). Santa Rita wines are imported by Palm Bay International. Andrés Ilabaca, head winemaker, Santa Rita winery in Chile Q: Q: Q:

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