Santa Rita Casa Real Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley 2010

Santa Rita Casa Real Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley 2010: Inky black-crimson color; red berries, leather, mint, spice on lovely nose; cherry, dark plum, delicious fruit on the palate;

superb sweet tannins, clean flavors from attack to finish, with that mint hint lingering to add to complexity and intrigue as it develops both on your palate and in the glass. Santa Rita recommends decanting, both for sediment (there was some, but not overwhelming) and for allowing the wine to open up—at five years, this is still a young wine. Santa Rita is one of Chile’s major makers, with roots reaching back to 1880. Today owned by Ricardo Claro, Santa Rita encompasses about 5,500 acres (2,200 hectares) of vineyards; Claro also owns Vina Carmen, another important Chilean maker, plus interests in wineries in partnership with Barons de Rothschild-Lafite in Chile and Dona Paula in Argentina. The Casa Real is one of the flagship efforts of a world-player and only is produced when the fruit is worthy; 2010 was an excellent year. Casa Real offerings are consistent darling of wine critics; this was no exception—Janis Robinson called this vintage her favorite when tasting in Chile; Wine Enthusiast scored it 93; Wine Spectator 92; Robert Parker 93; Natalie MacLean 93 (the 2008 vintage). What strikes you about wines at this level is their stunning polish and smoothness. You get impatient with the rich, pure finish because you are so eager to take another sip. Practice restraint, this is a bottle you can enjoy an entire evening. There are no flaws, just integrated excellence; no over-extracted fruitiness, no oak standing out (there is oak, but it is so seemlessly integrated into the whole of the wine you do not notice it as oak). There is superb balancing acidity, especially on the distant finish. Casa Real is a Chilean cabernet champ; worth the price and the search to find it. $75-85
Viños Santa Rita website
Second photo: Santa Rita cellar
Santa Rita Casa Real Cabernet Sauvignon
Santa Rita cellar