We often hear the expression 'Icon wine' thrown around, either in the context of something new and expensive or at the insistence of the winery itself. However, in our view wines cannot just be 'made' as icons, they have to be awarded as such. After all, it takes many years of dedication and experience, supported by consistent high-level recognition, to make a wine into an icon.
With the presentation of 100 points from James Suckling in his recent 'Top 100 Wines of the Andes' report, the Chilean superstar Clos Apalta has pinned another medal to its chest and in doing so has brought it ever closer to the true 'icon' spotlight. It was only last year that the 2014 was awarded 100 points, and yet the 2015 has come along, and in the words of Suckling, has proven to be the better wine, but where do you go from 100 points?
Impressive as this accolade is, it is not the only breakthrough moment: Clos Apalta has been one of the most decorated wines from anywhere in the world over the past decade:
Featured seven times in the Wine Spectator's Top 10 list, including the 2005 vintage which was given the #1 spot, and top billing.
It has been in the Top 3 of the Wine Spectator list three times and is the only South American winery to have topped the list.
The only other wine from the Southern Hemisphere to have reached the number is Penfolds Grange.
Consistently rated by Decanter Magazine, Wine Enthusiast and James Suckling as one of the great wines of the world.
Forbes Magazine declared Clos Apalta to be the 'creme de la creme' of Carmenere found anywhere in the world.
If you've not looked closely at the best wines of Chile before, then now is the time to start. Not only does Clos Apalta represent the best of Chile, but it also shows what a majority Carmenere wine can achieve. Clos Apalta is the flagship wine of the Marnier-Lapostolle family, owners of Grand Marnier and Chateau de Sancerre in France, and since its debut vintage in 1997 has gone from strength to strength. Many of the vines are ungrafted thanks to the estate's geographical protection from the phyloxerra louse, with the average vine age now pushing 100 years-old. In addition, Bordelais techniques including high density planting combine with organic and biodynamic vineyard treatment and the natural benefits of the region – warm days, cool nights, plenty of natural irrigation" to create a wine of power, poise and polish.
These days, Clos Apalta is treated not unlike the great estates of Bordeaux. The vineyard itself, accounting for only 2% of the entire Lapostolle production, is a glorious bio-dynamic haven where foxes duck beneath trees, flowers and foliage line the vineyards and the snow-capped Andes tower over the vast estate, cocooning the natural north-south facing amphitheatre, ensuring the grapes ripen both evenly and slowly. The winemaking is ably assisted by flying-vigneron Michel Rolland, and the wine is traditionally sold and marketed in France itself. Given it's pedigree and the recent achievements of Clos Apalta, it has also found itself a willing participant in the annual Bordeaux en primeur offering, meaning allocations are getting tight, and the price is shooting off into the stratosphere.
*This is a presale product, estimatated arrival is mid January 2021
What a stunning nose of crushed berries, fresh flowers, sandalwood and light vineyard dust. Black olives, too. Very complex. Full-bodied with a beautiful, dense palate of blackberries, chocolate, walnuts and cigar box. Fantastic length and composure. The tannin just rolls over the palate. Very structured. The most classically structured wine ever from here. Goes on for minutes. Outrageous and so polished.
LUIS GUTIERREZ - WINE ADVOCATE
The 2017 Clos Apalta is the 20th vintage of this wine that was produced with a blend of 48% Carmenere, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and 1% Petit Verdot from organic and biodynamic certified vineyards on granite soils. It fermented with indigenous yeasts for four to five weeks, with manual punch-down of the cap, mostly in 7,500-liter French oak vats and 18% in new French barrique. Malolactic was in new French oak barrels, and the élevage lasted for 27 months in 85% new barrels and 15% second use. This is always a powerful, big and ripe wine that is regularly 15% alcohol, reflecting a warm and ripe place. The 2017 is no exception, perhaps a riper and more powerful wine than the 2016. It's still very young and marked by the élevage, with abundant balsamic aromas and notes from the wood—spice and smoke with an ashy touch. It seems quite marked by the character of the Carmenere. The tannins are quite round and polished, and the flavors are pungent and powerful. It's a full-bodied wine to age in in bottle and enjoy in its 10th birthday with powerful food