Import Selection: Merlot, 1987. Robert Allison

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

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