Feb 21: Caballo Loco by Valdivieso Winery in Chile, is their top-ended wine, made by Solera system used in making Sherry and has established itself as one of the favourite wines for Indian wine connoisseurs. But the four Caballo Loco Grand Cru variants from vineyards in Limari, Maipo, Apalta and Sagrada Familia, using same grapes as in Caballo Loco but in specified vintages offering different flavours and costing almost 60%, are ‘Like Father-Like Sons’ and have a great potential in India, feels Subhash Arora who is impressed with all four but warns that the present excise policies are a hurdle
Valdivieso was established in 1879 as a ‘champagne’ producer but later started to add several still wines to its bouquet. The wines are imported in India now by Agnetta International for over a decade. The well- established brand in Chile and overseas, Caballo Loco (crazy horse) is a premium red wine made out of the 3 best vineyards of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Malbec and Carménère. When it was introduced by Sovereign Impex in 2004-5, I was much enamoured with the wine-not only for its elegance, complexity and the aging potential but also because there was an interesting story behind it.
Vintages were not displayed on the label but only a number. Thus Caballo Loco No. 1 was a blend of wines from 1990-94 and released in 1994. Each release contains 50 % of the current vintage and 50% from the previous blend. For instance, N°13 served in September 2012 at the 10th Anniversary Dinner of the Delhi Wine Club, was 50% of 2008 and 50% of the Solera started in 1990. It had a jammy nose of black fruits, dried prunes and sandalwood. Tannins were slightly astringent but juicy and fruity. Only a well- trained palate could notice the paradox of having young and aged wine aromas simultaneously.
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Grapes were sourced from Limari, Apalta, Maipo, Curico and Maule, using Cab Sauv, Malbec, Carmenere, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Carignan for these wines which are among the highest-priced wines from Chile. Thanks to the climate change, the alcohol levels have been increasing from 12.5% in N⁰ 1 to 14.8% in N⁰ 16. 14-15% alc has become the norm now.
Sons are born in 2010-11
I first tasted Caballo Loco Grand Cru in 2017 in Huilo- Huilo in Southern Chile at the wine competition Chile by CMB, organised by Concours Mondial de Bruxelles. The bottle looked familiar but I was foxed as there were 2 different variants to taste. I was to learn later that the company had introduced four Grand Cru variants- Limari, Maipo, Apalta and Sagrada Familia from where the grapes were already being sourced for Caballo Loco.
Brett Jackson has been the winemaker since 2007 for both the Father (Caballo Loco) and Sons (the 4 variants- in fact, they have also added a couple of grand Cru Sparkling wines as well. Brett has been in charge of making the complete range so he is well aware of the possibilities with these grapes. He visited India with Christian Sotomayor for the 10th Anniversary dinner but we discussed only Caballo Loco.
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Recently I had an opportunity to taste all the four variants (‘Sons’). The first thing that impressed me was the packaging. Five variants including the Father (Caballo Loco) are deluxe-packed in a beautiful box-worthy Presentation at weddings or gifts for special occasions. Each bottle has a similar label but with different colours. each wine label, characteristic of each origin. Thus there is Blue for Apalta, Yellow for Limari in the desert, Red from Maipo and Green from Sagrada Familia.
Caballo makes a chic presentation. There is also a smaller pack for only 4 Grand Cru variants.
Grand Cru Lipari (yellow label) is a perfumed and complex Syrah, in the valley with maritime influence. The wine is very fresh and mineral thanks to the maritime influence and the morning mist that gently sweeps over the vineyards till the sun comes up from across the mountains in the east. It tastes like Syrah from the cool climate. Great match with Lasagne. I enjoyed it also with slightly spicy chicken wings.
Grand Cru Maipo- (Burgundy red label) is a classic valley suitable for Cabernet Sauvignon. The CabSauv and CabFranc blend is bold with an excellent structure and robust tannins. Feeling full on the mouthfeel, the aftertaste tapers gently and smoothly. This one needs heavy-textured meats and food like aubergine and mushroom to tame the tannins. A slight sweetness and perfumed nose, thanks to Cabernet Franc makes it a very elegant wine as well.
Also Read : Viñas and Viñedos of Chile
Grand Cru Apalta 2017 (Blue label)- from Colchagua Valley has the benefit of big day-night temperature change, keeping the flavours fresh and fully ripened Carménère and Cabernet Sauvignon that form the blend. Bold and Structured, with softer tannins and full aromatic aromas make it a very pleasant wine-silky and smooth on the palate-perhaps the most delicious of all the 4 labels.
Grand Cru Sagrada Familia 2016 (Green Label) from Curico Valley is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere and Malbec. With a vibrant dark red colour and a complex nose of red fruits including black cherries moving to the dark fruit flavours with notes of soft mineral character, makes it elegant wine with soft structure, that would go best with Indian food.
Brett Jackson says, ‘these wines are from the same vineyards and components of the numbered Caballo Loco. We take advantage of the high-quality fruit availability in different terroirs of Chile best suitable for the grape varieties we use. Because of the same reason, we wanted to give a different colour to each wine label, characteristic of each origin. Thus we chose Blue for Apalta, Yellow for Limari up in the desert, Red from Maipo and Green from Sagrada Familia.
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All the 4 Caballo Loco Grand Crus come in a beautiful box packing. A box containing 5 bottles including the numbered Caballo Loco is also available. Christian Sotomayor, Export Manager of Valdivieso says, ‘In each of these 4 wines we wanted to get the best possible blend and offer it as a vintage wine with its own Appellation DO (I have heard the DO system used in Spain for the first time in Chile-editor). We are thus pandering to the traditional group of consumers who may not want to spend as much money on the original bottle of Caballo Loco or are confused with their numbering system.’
You may take your pick out of any of the 5 wines. You cannot go wrong. It would be worth taking the risk to get these wines in the Presentation\ Pack for special occasions. I was surprised when I was invited to present wine and cheese evenings at the inauguration of a super deluxe luxury store in Chandigarh, selling very expensive watches. Who would buy such expensive watches, I wondered? Today, they have over 40 stores across India, selling expensive to very expensive watches. No doubt the duties are excruciatingly high, but with increasing awareness, a certain section would find takers for these Presentation cases. Many collectors would also look at it in a positive way. With all 5 wines having a pleasant personality, unique to them, it would be a win-win for all.
Also Read : Feature: Chile- Valley of the Dolls
For more details, visit
http://www.caballoloco.cl or https://www.tiendavaldivieso.cl/
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