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On the Wine Side - The Story of Tarapaca

Fri, Oct 21, 22

The Story of Tarapaca

When there are so many wines in the store, it's easy to forget that every bottle tells a story. A story of the land, and of the fruit, and of the winemaker. We at Exit 9 Wine & Liquor Warehouse had the great pleasure to learn the story and taste the wines of Tarapaca in Chile, and it's something to be shared (and tasted).

Tarapaca has been making wine in the Maipo Valley of central Chile since 1874. The valley is exceptional for grape growing, as it is fed by the Pacific Ocean breezes and buffered by the Andes Mountains. Tarapaca's Fundo Rosario Estate vineyard in the valley (about 5,000 acres) is surrounded as well by the Altos de Cantillana range and the Maipo River. Turns out, it's a biodiversity global hotspot - one of the richest yet most threatened ecosystems on the planet.

Tarapaca recognized that a commitment to its estate's biodiversity was also a commitment to the quality of its wines. In 2017, it initiated a biodiversity masterplan to preserve and protect native species and to practice truly sustainable winemaking. The initiatives are already showing in the vineyard. Healthy soil makes for healthier, less disease-prone vineyards and higher quality fruit, which makes for the best expression of the grapes in the wines. Tarapaca's wines shine!
We tasted the Gran Reserva Carmenere, the Gran Reserva Carmenere, the Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon, the Etiqueta Negra Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon, and the Etiqueta Azul Blend. All the wines are elegant and expressive and delicious. They're balanced and bright and entice you to notice more and more in the glass.

The Carmenere is a hidden gem, as it's a grape we're not as familiar with in the US (though it's common in Chile) so we're more reluctant to try it. The winemaker described it as somewhere between a Cab and a Merlot, but more refined. It has flavors of blackberries, chocolate, pepper and bay leaf with a beautiful, long finish. Gorgeous.

Both of the Cabs were luscious with dark fruit and black currant notes; rounded and ripe and robust. The black label cab is produced from a select block that is harvested and produced by hand.
The Etiqueta Azul Blend was another stand-out, one the winemaker shared was developed over a three-month period of tinkering and tasting. It's 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Syrah, 9% Cabernet Franc and 6% Malbec. It's complex and intense, with notes of ripe black fruit and hints of leather.

All of the wines are aged in French oak. 

It's no wonder Tarapaca is one of Chile's top brands and that the wines are so highly rated. They all received big marks from us here at the store. They are also great values for the quality of the wines. Take some home and discover these beautiful wines and get a sense for their beautiful home, the Maipo Valley of Chile.
By Tyler Duma