Sep 25: The Chilean super premier wine Caballo Loco 17 is a unique wine as it is made by Solera method but primarily with Bordeaux grapes and at the Retail Price of Rs. 8000-10,500, it is an excellent food wine for connoisseurs, writes Subhash Arora who has seen its evolution in India for 15 years and had an occasion to taste the wine recently
Caballo Loco means crazy horse in Spanish. There are several stories about why the wine is named as such but it was introduced in 1994 by Valdivieso which started making ‘Champagne’ in 1879 and is today number one sparkling wine producer with 30% share in the Chilean market, according to Christian Sotomayor, Export Manager of Valdivieso.
Made from grapes chosen from special parcels, it is made by Solera method- like Sherry. Each vintage is a blend of 50% of the wine from the current year’s blend and 50% from the previous years, stored away as the reserve wine. First launched in 1994, it had a blend of vintages from 1990-94 and was labelled as Caballo Loco 1.
Now defunct Sovereign Impex first imported the wines from Valdivieso in India in 2003-4 and Caballo Loco was the top-ended wine in the ladder. It was super-hit with the members of the Delhi Wine Club at a dinner attended by the then Ambassador H. E. Jorge Heine. He and I really fell in love with this wine on our first sip. Though the Sauvignon Blanc and the sparkling wine were also a hit, it was Caballo Loco 4 that caught our fancy and I would drink it whenever feasible.
The blend was kept secret in the early days and has seen minor changes in the blend over the years, until a few years ago when Puneet Ralhan, Director of the current importing company Agnetta International informed us- a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon from Maipo Valley, Shiraz, Malbec and Chile’s national signature grape Carmenere. In fact, now they have started mentioning the grapes on the back level where they used to mention ‘made from a secret blend’ of grapes.
In recent years, Valdivieso has started disclosing the grapes in the blend. The first edition of Caballo Loco No. 1 released in 1994 had Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir grapes from 1990-1994 with a low level of 12% alcohol. The No.4 that was first released in India had Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Pinot Noir and Merlot with 13% alcohol. The blend included 50% of No. 3 and balance from vintage 1997.
The current edition in the Indian market is No. 17 which is a blend of 50% of No. 16 and balance from 2012-2013. Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Malbec, Carignan and Merlot constitute the blend but the alcohol level is higher at 14.3% due to global warming. The wine is fuller bodied, with aromas of black fruits and spices, elegant structure and the long and complex evolution of earlier editions. It is deeper and richer than the previous editions too. These wines are now individually wrapped and packed in individual deluxe packing and form the upper crust of fine Chilean wines.
Caballo at 200th event of Delhi Wine Club
Caballo Loco also has another interesting story for the Delhi Wine Club which celebrated its 10th year and 200th wine dinner in September 2012 at Hyatt Regency. Valdivieso had been recently re-launched in India by Agnetta International. Not only did they air-lift and sponsor the iconic wine to showcase to the 250 guests attending the sit-down dinner, the Export Director Chrisitian Sotomayor flew in from Chile along with the winemaker Brett Jackson (who has been making Caballo Loco since no. 7) to attend the historic dinner and meet the trade.
We had poured the wine again at another wine dinner in October 2015 where I had selected this high-ended wine. ‘At Rs. 6050 in Delhi market, Caballo Loco 13 is not exactly cheap but President Subhash Arora does get ‘loco’ at times to give us a memorable experience,’ said Tarsilo Nataloni, a long time Italian member of the Delhi Wine Club, who has gone back to Italy since. His palate was Italian but he appreciated fine wines from other countries as well.
Looking back, the prices were cheap at Rs. 6050 in Delhi in 2015. With a marked jump in the label registration charges, retails costs due to real estate price escalation and various additions like FSSAI costs, the wine is priced today at Rs. 10,500 in Delhi and not even available easily in Delhi. Fortunately, with the monopoly ending in Haryana this year, the price in Gurgaon varies from Rs. 8,000-9,000 (there is no fixed MRP in Haryana). For instance, The Liquor Warehouse (TLW) has priced it at Rs. 9010 while Discovery sells it at Rs. 8000. Take your pick.
Ageing of Caballo Loco
Although Caballo Loco 17 is the currently available edition in the market, I had bought a couple of bottles of Caballo Loco 4 for around Rs. 4000 in 2005- one for a friend and another for my cellar. I polished off mine within a couple of years but I was surprised to find the same buried in my friend’s cellar, last year. Though it has an expected shelf life of 10 years, it was a pleasant surprise that even after 14 years, the wine was still fresh, balanced with lovely ripe tannins. Therefore, No. 17 could be opened now but would last till around 2030 if you are a collector.
For a few of the earlier related Articles, visit
DWC Dinner: Going Loco for Caballo at Zerzura
Delhi Wine Club: Wines to Celebrate Double Ton
An interview with dr Jorge Heine, Ambassador of Chile in India
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