The San José de Santiago brand is a brainstorm operation based on the high quality grapes of Chile’s Pacific coast. You have, no doubt, seen and/or enjoyed the excellent fruits that arrive during our winter in North America from Chile. I have been relishing these treats since childhood. The green grocers in my family used to procure very limited quantities of these (then) rarities for us to enjoy at holiday time.
But despite Chile’s inherent agricultural strength, its economy found itself in a turmoil. For years, small independent wine growers there were in quite a jam. They were controlled by the country’s few major producers (such as Concha y Toro). The big boys would buy wine from these small producers and pay on 13 month terms! Because of Chile’s incredible inflation rate, the producers’ profits were essentially being wiped out over that time period.
In response to this situation, a company called Vintwood International created and owns the San Jose de Santiago brand. The company’s president, Frank Gentile, goes to the Chilean countyside and buys wine from independent growers (his prime supplier is the Bisquertt family, third generation grape growers in Chile’s premier wine country, the Colchagua Valley). He pays good money for good quality product. The small winegrowers are grateful for the cash flow and grant him the opportunity to pick and choose amongst their best wines. Chile’s top consulting oenologist, Aurelio Montes, steps in and creates the final cuvees. The results are wines which represent the very top of their class.
Cabernet Sauvignon is the premier red wine grape of the world. A native of Bordeaux, France, the grape achieves success in many terrains and climate zones. Its wine can be very long lived. When young, it shows intense fruit aromas of berries and blackcurrants, and contains much tannin. As these tannins soften with age, the wine often develops a complex cedar and spice bouquet.
Our example has a deep ruby color and a rich, leathery, red tropical fruits aroma. In the mouth, it is medium to full-bodied with nice, berry and wood flavors and balanced acidity. Mellow and dry, it finishes with moderate tannin and a hint of currant in the aftertaste.
Serve at room temperature with grilled steaks or, better yet, grilled lamb.
Cellaring Notes: Smooth now, but should complex through 1996.
Reviewed by Larry Tepper