Today’s Story: Viña Tarapacá
Viña Tarapacá was founded in the Maipo Valley at the foothills of the Andes Mountains in 1874 by Don Francisco de Rojas y Salamanca, under the name Viñas de Rojas. A renowned winemaker, Don Francisco received his first wine accolade at Viñas de Rojas in 1875 (Silver Medal at the International Exhibition of Santiago) and followed it in 1876 with the Silver Medal at the Exhibition of Philadelphia. In 1892, the winery was acquired by Don Antonio Zavala and was renamed to Viña Zavala. By divorce, Don Antonio Zavala’s ex-wife Doña Mercedes Ulloa took control of the winery as part of alimony and renamed it to Viña Tarapacá Ex Zavala to express gratitude to her lawyer who was nicknamed “The Lion of Tarapacá.” 1992 marked another transition for the winery when it was acquired by La Compañía Chilena de Fósforos, a conglomerate hoping to market the wines to broader global markets. Today, Viña Tarapacá continues to produce quality Chilean wines under this umbrella.
The Viña Tarapacá estate consists of 2,600 hectares of land, though only 611 hectares are planted to vine. The land is surrounded by mountains and the Maipo River so, interestingly, the El Rosario Estate is nicknamed “Maipo Valley’s Natural Clos” after the French viticultural term “clos” used to describe terroir surrounded by stone walls to preserve the vineyards. In caring for the land, Viña Tarapacá practices sustainable farming methods to conserve the biodiversity of their vineyards and produce quality wines. In regards to their environmental efforts, the winery runs their own mini hydroelectric plant with water from the Maipo River to produce 60% of their required energy. Furthermore, the winery fixed solar panels to their roof to augment electricity savings more.
Today’s Wine: 2015 Carmenère Gran Reserva
100% Carmenère; 13.5% ABV
The 2015 Carmenère Gran Reserva is opaque medium to deep ruby red in color with not a lot of variation near the rim. The nose is dominated by aromas of green bell pepper, peppercorn spice, dried herbs, asphalt, and red and blue florals with some blackberry, plum, and oak in the background. The palate basically mirrors the nose, showcasing notes of raspberry, tart cherry, plum, dried underbrush, green peppercorn, bell pepper, olive, coffee bean, and vanilla. The wine is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium tannins, and a medium length finish.
Price: $20. This is a great value Carmenère that showcases the variety’s unique tasting notes and expressions. However, this is not for the faint of heart in wine drinkers who prefer the fruit bombs and people pleasers without being used to overly spicy and bell-pepper-filled wines. Pair this with a broad range of foods, particularly smoked, grilled, or roasted meats like beef, lamb, pork, chicken, or veal.