Deep ruby-purple color; black cherry, plum, sage, tobacco, baking spice, vanilla on the nose; black cherry, plum, blackcurrant, some vanilla on the palate.
Dry; good acidity (3.65 pH); rounded tannins with some grip on the finish. Fermented in stainless, finished in French and American oak for 18 months in new French oak. The oak complements the fruit, does not overpower—nicely done. There is gentle power in this effort. You are drinking a polite but powerful red. Blend of 40% petit verdot, 30% cabernet sauvignon, 20% cabernet franc, 10% malbec. This is Conde de Velázquez’s gran reserva red blend effort, with this vintage the first released in U.S.
Conde de Valázquez continues to rise as a Chilean maker of note, upping their game each year. Conde wines have been made by Viña San Esteban in the central Aconcagua Valley since 2002. They are available in the United States as a result of interesting joint venture between Agricola Del Conde of Santiago, Chile, and WTWM Imports of San Angelo, Texas. WTWM is abbreviation of West Texas Wool and Mohair—San Angelo has long been center of wool and mohair business in the United States (and the world) and WTWM has done business in the wool and mohair industry in Chile for decades. Importing is importing, thus the unexpected connection with Agricola Del Conde and a major hides and hair operation—and now also wine—in west-central Texas.
Viña San Esteban is located near the hillsides of Paidahuen (“Good Place” in the native tongue). The hillsides are covered with rock drawings and petroglyphs. In interesting coincidence, San Angelo is located 30 miles west of the Painted Rocks, a major site for Native American rock art in Texas. José Vicente purchased La Florida and Paidahuen estates for grape production in 1974. Twenty years later, José’s son, Horacio Vicente Mena—a winemaker trained in California and Bordeaux—joined his father to add winemaking to the grape growing enterprise.
Viña San Esteban is a pioneer in hillside vineyard plantings. The Aconcagua’s riverbanks provide soil composed of drift stones and fragments of rock from the Andes. The light texture of the soil regulates water retention and excess vigor, encouraging the concentration of aromas and flavors in grapes, all of which reflect in Conde wines.
Conde de Velázquez Capa Premium Blend Aconcagua Valley, Chile 2014 is another quality wine from a rising star among Chilean producers. Powerful without being brutish or overwhelming, a nice trick. This is limited production effort worth finding—if you can’t there are several other Conde de Valázquez efforts at wide range of price points worth a try. Pair with red meats, lamb, pork, Italian food made with red sauces. $53