Category Archives: Chile

Two More Reds: 2010 Lapostolle Canto de Apalta and 2006 Bennett Family Napa Cabernet Sauvignon The Reserve

Disclaimer: Both wines were provided as media samples by Wine Chateau. Opinions expressed are my own.

With the weather still being pretty splendid, but the evenings cooling down I have been digging more in my modest cellar. While a lot of the wines are white, there is a decent amount of reds by now, so I had the good fortune of pulling these two out this week.

2010 Lapostolle Canto de Apalta (Credit:

We first had the 2010 Lapostolle Canto de Apalta, a Chilean mix of 36% Carmenère, 31% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Syrah from Rapel Valley. According to the label, Lapostolle Winery was founded by a member of the family that has been producing the liqueur Grand Marnier for over six generations in 1994. The female winemaker, Alexandra Marnier Lapostolle, reportedly created this blend by selecting different lots from the estate’s 370 hectares. In total, the winery produces around 2.4 million bottles.  According to the website, 2010 seems to have been a rough year for Chile winemakers: a cooler and drier fall/winter 2009 with delayed bud break and persisting low temperatures. Throw in a major earthquake and everyone had their hands full. The wine has 14.1% ABV.

The wine showed itself in a deeper purplish red with a soft rim. It flowed noticeably heavy in the glass. I thought the nose was pretty, with jammy raspberries, branches, some maltiness and wet leaves. Yet, it also showed a decidedly perfumy nose with healthy acidic aromas. Nina thought the nose was wonderful. On the palate, the wine was way less acidic than anticipated from the nose. It had a light to medium body and a decent balance. The beginning and middle section seemed a bit too fruit-less for my taste, but there were hints of spice, pepper and a branchy finish. After a while, there appeared leather aromas, too. All in all a decent red wine. Not the most interesting or complex in my book, but definitely worth a try.

2006 Bennett Family Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon The Reserve

2006 Bennett Family Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon The Reserve

Wednesday night, we opened the 2006 Bennett Family Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon The Reserve. According to the label, the wine is produced by William Grant and Sons, a family of distillers. It has 14.5% ABV. The winery website provides a sheet for the 2005 vintage, according to which the vines are 15 years old and the wine spent 18 months in French oak, 60% of which were new. But to the wine:

In the glass, it poured in a dark crimson red. The nose was delicious, with blackberry and raspberry aromas, some balsamic and pepper. It also had a jamminess to it which I liked. On the palate, excellent mouth-feel with just the right amount of chewiness. Herbal and spice box aromas, a very well integrated acidity and good tannins. I thought this had a very good balance and depth. There were wood aromas and slight pepper towards the medium long finish. After a while, I got cocoa and bitter chocolate aromas as well as fennel and anis seed. Both Nina and I really liked this wine. You might know that I am not a big fan of single varietal Cabernet Sauvignon, but this one worked very well for me. It had depth and good flavors that kept bringing me back.

In my book, the Bennett Family was the clear winner between these two, especially given that they come pretty much at the same price point…

Both wines are available for around $20, for example from Wine Chateau:

2010 Lapostolle Canto de Apalta

2006 Bennett Family Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon The Reserve

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Whine and Cheers: A Cuban and a bottle of Carménère on Prince Edward Island

Somewhere, beyond the Sea

Somewhere, beyond the Sea

This is the second to last installment in my summer guest blogging series “Somewhere Beyond the Sea”. I am proud to present to you the writing of Ernest Gonzalez of Whine and Cheers for Wine. Ernest is living the dream: From a wine lover he took the steps to become an educated wine professional and changed his life because he wanted to. He is now “the wine guy” at a Whole Foods branch in Florida. I really like Ernest’s writing style, in which he weaves information gathered about a wine and grape with his own tasting notes and impressions. I have been lucky to have followed his path from early when I started blogging and seeing him make his way has been awesome and inspiring. Oh, and we also share a love for Riesling, which naturally helps…so, thank you Ernest, for being a part of this!

A Cuban and a bottle of Carménère on Prince Edward Island


When The Winegetter first approached me with the theme of Somewhere Beyond the Sea I have to admit I was a bit lost at sea.  What on earth could I write about? I have always appreciated wine, but most of my travels abroad were prior to my true love of wine. Ireland; beer and whiskey. England; beer and cider. Hawaii; pineapple sparkling wine but lets not go there. Amsterdam? Let’s really not go there!

Which lead me to a trip taken a few years ago as I was careening towards the proverbial fork in the road. Wine was still a hobby at this point in my life. No blog or wine job in sight. These would come later. Perfect timing for a much-needed first time visit to Nova Scotia and Canada’s Prince Edward Island. I realize some may say a sea was not technically crossed but having experienced the Gulf of St. Lawrence and ferry rides across the Northumberland Strait I would beg to differ. At least for this story.

An adventure with dear friends. Driving and hiking the Cabot Trail of Nova Scotia prior to ferrying over to Prince Edward Island and the incredible accommodations of the Johnson Shore Inn. Owned by friends of ours who many can attest are beyond wonderful hosts.  This bed and breakfast sits on a red rocky cliff overlooking the Gulf of St. Lawrence who’s coastline kept us in awe for the entirety of our stay.


Wonderful memories come to mind including fabulous home cooked meals, PEI mussels, roasted pig, a visit to a dance hall where yes we danced into the cold night, a fresh steamed [salt water from the beach a few steps away] lobster dinner party for 18 where guests were asked to show off a talent which included poetry, song, and even tap dancing. Not aware of this tradition of entertaining others at dinner my impromptu talent became speaking Spanish. Luckily the other guests were very welcoming and pretended to be in awe of this talent as I babbled on. A few of my new friends had recently been to Cuba [Beyond the Sea!] so this became quite the topic as I was asked about my people, politics and family lineage.  A visit to our hostesses  Prince Edward Distillery to sample their award-winning potato vodka and many a day sitting along the red cliffs pondering, taking in all the natural beauty surrounding this very special place also made for incredible memories.

The wine portion of this story came near the end of our trip. After days of being pampered we decided to cook dinner for our hostesses. We spent most of the day researching and shopping for ingredients that included a stop at the state-run liquor store where the cashier had now started to recognize us after more than a few visits.  Not accustomed to such government operated stores I was first taken aback by their small selection of U.S. wines but at the same time impressed by their also small but varied choice of South American wines. Chile and Argentina were very well represented and Chile’s Carménère became my choice for our farewell dinner. Those who frequent my web-site may know that I enjoy spreading the gospel of this signature Chilean, albeit originally Bordeaux varietal. In fact in reviewing my earlier posts I even referenced the PEI adventure in my: Our Wednesday night choice; Santa Rita Reserva 2008 Carménère review from last year.  And as fate would have it a wonderfully written recent guest post by The Armchair Sommelier: Drinking Carménère With the Devil.

Carménère, thought to be extinct for years, was discovered in Chile during the 1990′s inadvertently being grown as Merlot.  This lush somewhat exotic grape has earthy and leather aromas with a sweet dark fruit taste of plum, blackberry, and cherry.  I would describe it as deliciously rustic.


On this occasion our last meal turned out to be a delicious Rib-eye Pot Roast laden with fresh spices and root vegetables that cooked slowly for about 5+ hours. In my mind at least, it was to be perfectly paired with my chosen Carménère. If only I could remember which one in particular I painstakingly decided on that day. But as it turned out I would come to learn years later forgetfulness was to be shared that evening. As our meal progressed to the main course I poured the Carménère along with a little history of the grape and it was an instant hit. Those in our party of six that I had previously introduced this varietal to were excited to be sharing our secret. For the newbies it was love at first sip. As I recall dinner went off without a hitch. All courses were better than expected and I would to this day forever be trying to match the perfect pot roast recipe from when we were on Prince Edward Island. Yes, still trying.

Fast forward a few years to our Canadian hosts coming south to Florida for the winter. A reunion dinner planned! My assignment; wine. What better choice but to relive our last supper, so memorable to me, by bringing a bottle of Carménère. A joyous reunion. As dinner was served, I poured the wine and pointed out the varietal I had chosen. Yes the same one we had devoured and shared before on our last night on PEI! To my surprise I was met with blank stares, a lack of recollection and the comment; “Oh, we’ve never had that varietal”. What?? Could I have possibly made up the entire experience or more likely romanticized the event that defined our last night together? We laughed as I reminded them of our first time at the last supper and then we just moved on to the dinner at hand and wonderful new conversations. Our soon to be memories being created.

I find it interesting that as I bonded with the wine with friends for my memory of the event, others bonded with the dinner with friends or just the quality time of friends together. The one common denominator: friendship. This realization has made me think about how I may attach too much weight to factors that surround us all instead of what truly is important.

So yes, I’d like to take this opportunity to admit: My name is Whine and Cheers and I appreciate wine. But, I love friendships!


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The Armchair Sommelier: Drinking Carmenere with the Devil

Somewhere, beyond the Sea

Somewhere, beyond the Sea

This is the third installment of my summer 2013 guest blogging series with the theme “Somewhere, Beyond the Sea”. Today’s blogger is Kirsten, “The Armchair Sommelier“. Kirsten is married to a German and has spent considerable time in Germany, to be more precise, Bavaria. But that is not the reason why I asked her for a contribution to this series. As you will be able to tell from this post, she has a wonderfully chatty tone that keeps me floating right through her blog. It is a quality I enjoy a lot. She mixes information with impressions and keeps you entertained while at it. Most of all, I am drawn in by her awesome food and wine pairings, which have put me on a mission to get myself invited to her table. One of these days…Thank you, Kirsten!

Drinking Carmenere with the Devil

I always thought the Devil lived on a cul-de-sac in Hell.  He doesn’t.  He lives in a wine cellar at the Concha y Toro winery in Santiago, Chile.  A couple of years ago, I visited The Devil’s Cellar (El Casillero del Diablo).  The Devil and I hit it off, and before I knew it, we were drinking Carmenere together.

This is the Devil’s Cellar, and there’s the Devil, pitchfork and all.  This picture makes me think about that little kid from The ShiningRedrum  Redrum  Redrum.  Creeptastic.

So how did the Devil wind up living in a wine cellar in Chile? 

Don Melchor de Santiago Concha y Toro founded his eponymous winery in 1883.  Many of the first grapes he planted were vines he brought from Bordeaux.  That will be an important detail in about 4 paragraphs, so stay with me.

According to legend, over 100 years ago, Don Melchor hid some of his finest wines deep in his cellar.  Over time, some of those bottles started disappearing.  Don Melchor was convinced the locals were stealing his wine.  And, knowing the locals were a highly superstitious lot, he started a rumor that the Devil lived in his wine cellar . . . and the stealing stopped.  Cue dramatic music.

The bars on the cellar amuse me.  Like bars are going to keep the Devil inside.


The bars

Even without the Devil’s red party light, this kind of dark and creepy makes the hairs on the back of my neck twitch.  Would you steal the Devil’s wine??

The cellars

The cellars

When Don Melchor wasn’t hanging out in his wine cellar with the Devil, he and his family lived in this Devil-free manor house.  Not too shabby, eh?

The mansion

The mansion

After we emerged unscathed (mostly) from The Devil’s Cellar, our tour guide told us the story of the Carmenere grape – a story that reads like a CSI script.

Before phylloxera decimated French vineyards in the 1860s, Carmenere was considered one of the great red wine grapes of Bordeaux.  When French vineyards replanted with phylloxera-resistant North American rootstock, Carmenere didn’t take well.  And so it was written off as collateral damage — lost forever.  Nobody even bothered to put Carmenere’s picture on a milk carton.

BUT . . . rewind.

Back in the 1850s, some pre-phylloxera Carmenere vines had been exported to Chile.  People in Europe forgot all about those vines because they were so distracted by the phylloxera plague.  Don Melchor planted some of those Carmenere vines at Concha y Toro.  And because Chile’s terroir is largely immune to phylloxera, Carmenere survived . . . and thrived.

But Carmenere can’t catch a break.  Somehow, the Carmenere got lost in a Merlot vineyard, and everyone just thought it was Merlot.  Whose job was it to babysit the Carmenere vines?  My money is on the Devil.

Can you find the Carmenere?

Carmenere Vineyards

Carmenere Vineyards

Chilean wineries unwittingly sold and marketed Carmenere as Merlot for over 100 years.  Until about a decade ago, when a few folks with ultra-sensitive palates noticed that Chilean Merlot had stronger and spicier flavors than Merlot from anywhere else in the world.

Several DNA tests later, Chilean “Merlot” was identified as Carmenere.

Pre-phylloxera Carmenere.  Carmenere wasn’t extinct –- it had survived the phylloxera plague!  This is the viticultural equivalent of finding a dinosaur egg in your backyard.

Just to clarify, this is not the Devil.  This is the Devil’s Hostess.  She poured us a glass of Carmenere from The Devil’s Cellar.

Tasting Carmenere

Tasting Carmenere

And you know what?  Carmenere from the Devil’s Cellar is pretty tasty.  For a bargain red ($10ish US dollars), it’s tough to beat.  I’ve been buying Casillero del Diablo Carmenere as my party red for years now.  It’s not overly complex, but always reliable and fun.  It’s also widely exported, so you can find it almost anywhere.

Casillero del Diablo

Casillero del Diablo


So the next time you’ve got $10 burning a hole in your pocket, pick up a bottle of Casillero del Diablo Carmenere . . . and have a drink with the Devil!



Special thanks to Oliver at The Winegetter for inviting me to write a guest post for his blog.  I had fun writing it . . . I hope you have run reading it!

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