This morning Clos Apalta have released their perfect scoring 2017 vintage, a fitting score for its twentieth vintage and following 100 point back-to back scores in 2014 and 2015. It must therefore truly be considered the greatest Carmenere dominant wine in the world and a true ‘wow wine’. Indeed, it is its blend of 48% Carmenere, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and 1% Petit Verdot that demands attention from wine lovers. Clos Apalta simultaneously reflects the lineage of Carmenere in South America yet embodies the Bordeaux blend, switch Carmanere for Cabernet Franc in the blend and you are shoulder-to-shoulder with Figeac. The romantic unity is alluring, Carmenere is one of Europe’s oldest grapes and believed to be the antecedent to Cabernet Sauvignon. Indeed, in Bordeaux, it was confused as an early ripening Merlot. In doing so it was picked far too early. These characters make it exceptional in Chile.

 

James Suckling awards Clos Apalta 100 points attesting to its ‘Fantastic length and composure. The tannin just rolls over the palate. Very structured….Goes on for minutes. Outrageous and so polished.’ Luis Gutierrez of The Wine Advocate agrees awarding it 95 points stating ‘This is always a powerful, big and ripe wine.’ Priced at £447 per case of six, Clos Apalta has a Price Over Points score (POP) of 44.7, £74.50 a bottle for a perfect scoring wine is excellent indeed. 

 

Also released today is one of the best priced second wines in the world, Petit Clos is a triumph awarded 96 points from James Suckling who says ‘This is so delicious with blackcurrants, spice, sweet tobacco, lavender and roses’. It has also been awarded 93+ from Gutierrez which makes its price of £135 per case of six, result ing in a POP score of 20! It diverges from Clos Apalta with a blend of 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Camenere, 9% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot and 2% Petit Verdot. It has only been made since 2014 but already has a groundswell of buyers and is becoming allocated already.

 

Clos Apalta is a wine of pedigree, having featured three times in the top three of the Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines and is the only Southern Hemisphere wine – other than the Grange 1995 – to win the number one spot. In 2000, it came third and in 2001, second. However, it was the 2005 vintage which was awarded the number one spot and rated at 96 points by James Suckling. Evidently, the perfect 100 point score in 2015 is a game changer, Clos Apalta has been jettisoned to global stardom. The brand is going from strength to strength every year. Since the release of the 2014, the latest vintages have increased on average 14%.

 

These two perfect scores and its sustained critical acclaim means that Clos Apalta joins Sena and Almaviva as one of three truly great Chilean wines. Of these three, Clos Apalta is the wine most true to Chilean winemaking, made 70% by its flagship red grape, Carmenere. The rest is formed of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and a splash of Petit Verdot. Carmenere tends towards delicacy and fragrance and in the Clos Apalta vineyard it adds incredible power and structure. Michel Rolland oversees the winemaking and therefore it comes as no surprise that the Carmenere’s elegance and complexity is combined with the Bordeaux varieties; Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Rolland’s signature grape, Merlot. Clos Apalta is therefore the world’s leading Carmenere wine and successfully combines with Merlot forming the apotheosis of the Chilean flagship variety.

 

Lapostolle was founded in 1994 by Alexandra Marnier Lapostolle and her husband, Cyril de Bournet, the founders and owners of the liqueur, Grand Marnier. They have made a fortune from this, however the family had been primarily involved in winemaking for generations. Clos Apalta was their ambitious project to create a truly world class wine which combines the best of Chile with the best of Bordeaux; this has certainly been accomplished!

 

The Clos Apalta vineyard is situated high in the Colchagua Valley, near the town of Cunaco, near Santa Cruz. This location ensures a long, moderated growing season, lending it both tremendous power and intensity. It is grown from ungrafted vines, nearly 100 years old and some of the oldest in the world. This is truly amazing and the wines produce incredible flavour profiles. The grapes are hand-picked and manually de-stemmed, then fermented slowly in French oak, with native yeasts giving it a tremendous sense of terroir. After four weeks of maceration, it is gravity-racked into new French oak barrels, where it is matured for 28 months to reinforce the wine’s structure and it is bottled unfined and unfiltered. The result of this uncompromising commitment to quality in the vineyard and in the winery result in a wine that combines dense flavour with opulence and fragrance. It boasts juicy fruit, with super ripe tannin, Asian spices and leather. The finish provides beautiful chocolate flavour and liquorice. Clos Apalta is true to Chile and in being so offers something unique and desirable.