Although the label reads, “Robert Allison”, this wine is a product of the Vina Santa Carolina winery which was founded in 1875 in Chile’s most famous wine producing district, the Maipo Valley. As one of the country’s “Big Four” wine companies it maintains 2,450 acres of premium vineyards under its control. The winery is serious about becoming a significant player in the U.S. market. The Santa Carolina brand is trademarked and is offered for sale in our country. To supplement its brand sales, the winery has made an agreement with a California importer (The Cabernet Corporation) to sell its wines to interested wineries who bottle it and offer it for sale under their own label: voila, Robert Allison. Although Santa Carolina employs twentieth century technology to ferment and produce their wine, the grapes are still cultivated with horse-drawn plows, hand harvested and transported to the winery in horse-drawn carts. The wine maker is Sergio Correa, a graduate of the Institute of Bordeaux in France. Under his guidance, stainless steel, temperature controlled tanks have replaced ancient, out-moded cement vats. Small French and American oak barrels are used for ageing instead of the old ones from yesteryear which were made from local (inferior) wood.
As evidence to Correa’s contribution, at a recent Vin Expo it Bordeaux, Sergio’s 1987 Chardonnay took a Gold Medal while his 1982 Cabernet Riserva walked away with the Grand Medal of Honor, chosen from a field of 4,548 of the best wines in the world.
Our selection actually is a blend of 75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet is used in such a blend to add intensity of flavor, firmness of structure and ageing potential to the soft, fruity, early-maturing Merlot. Originally from Bordeaux, both grapes were brought to Chile long ago by the French vine specialist, German Bachelet.
Its color is a clear medium-deep ruby red showing some maturity. The wine offers a peppery, fruity nose accented with a hint of wood: straight forward, clean and appealing. It is medium-bodied, dry with a distinct black currant flavor. There is mild acidity well-balanced with light tannin. A taste of currant and black cherry lingers in the finish.
Serve at room temperature with red meats; steak, lamb chops or sausages off the grill.
Cellaring Notes: Enjoy through 1993.
Reviewed by Larry Tepper