2020 Vína Carmen, Delanz Apalta, Red Estate Blend, D.O. Alpalta, Colchagua Valley, Chile.
Blind tasted on this wine and (I) was completely wrong, though I did think it had elements of both the Bordeaux and Loire regions, but I enjoyed this Carmen Delanz Apalta. This Carmenere based Chilean red impressed me very much and I thought it was very solid value with rich fruit density, classic spice and green herbal notes, along with a restrained use of oak that gave it an old world feel. Grown in the now prestigious Apalta Valley, well up in the Andes, best known for the wines of Lapostolle and their iconic Clos Apalta, this Carmen Delanz Apalta is crafted using a unique blend of 79% Carmenere, 15% Cabernet Franc and about 6% of Syrah, which is a savvy choice and gives an extra degree of complexity and allows for pretty floral and lightly earthy aromas to emerge from the glass.The full bodied palate flows nicely with black cherry, plum, currant and dark berries forming a core of fruit, going along with the hints of sandalwood, minty herbs, anise and a faint green bell pepper note in a supple wine with ripe polished tannins and good natural acidity. The vines are located in the Colchagua valley within the Alpalta zone with the Carmenere sourced from a dry farmed vineyard site originally planted in 1935 that are set on granite soils. The Winery notes that this 2020 vintage of Carmen’s Delanz Apalta cuvée is the first release of this wine, which saw the inclusion of some Cab Franc and Syrah from more recently planted.

For the winemaking here, the winery chose pretty traditional methods with each varietal macerated and fermented separately in small lots and blended later with primary done in stainless steel tanks with 24 days on the skins before the wine must was pressed using a vertical press using different pressure intensity to get full extraction, but a softer tannin profile. The Delanz Alpalta was aged in French oak barrels for 18 months and was naturally clarified without any fining agents, with a well judged percentage of new wood, which helps this wine show its true nature and it does a good job of showcasing the terroir. Emily Faulconer, the winemaker here at Carmen’s Apalta estate, has done a fabulous job capturing a sense of place, noting that Apalta is a magical small valley that is situated at the foot of a mountain range, with the mentioned deep granite based soils and an ancient wooded forest that she says adds its influence here in her new wine and brings out the best in the Carmenere, one of Bordeaux varietals that was almost completely extinct in France before being re-discovered here in Chile. Foulconer adds this is a special place for the Chilean viticulture and they have many years of experience and history here in Apalta. The 2020 vintage was a year in which draught caused extremely low yields and the winery carefully selected the grapes here to be sure of the best quality and concentration, which this Delanz Apalta clearly displays, but the cool nights here make for very balanced wines. Again, thank you to my friend Giussepi Cossu, who has visited this region and tasted me on this wine.
($20 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

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