Starting the new year with a delicious red wine at a bargain price is easy when you pour a glass of 2007 Casa Lapostolle, Merlot, Rapel Valley.
Casa Lapostolle was founded in 1994 by a partnership of the Chilean Rabat family and Alexandra Marnier Lapostolle — the great-granddaughter of Alexandre Marnier Lapostolle creator of the French liqueur, Grand Marnier — and her husband, Cyril de Bournet.
I met Alexandra Marnier Lapostolle in the 1990s when she presented her Chilean wines at my former restaurant, Sonoma Grill. The quality of her new wines was as impressive as those from her other winery, the well-known Chateau de Sancerre in Loire Valley.
A trip to Casa Lapostolle in 2005 showed Alexandra Marnier Lapostolle’s commitment to excellence. A new winery was being built into the hillside for its prestigious Clos Apalta wine; vineyards were healthy and impeccable; and winemaker Jacques Begarie’s substantial Bordeaux experience was producing consistently high-quality Casa Lapostolle wines.
In 2008, winemaker Jerome Poisson was added to the Casa Lapostolle team. Youthful and energetic, Poisson presented Casa Lapostolle’s basic wines during a recent visit to New York.
After tasting the two white wines, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay — the latter I found too alcoholic in the finish — I turned my attention to the Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. While the Cabernet Sauvignon was certainly appealing, the 2007, Casa Lapostolle, Merlot won my palate.
Made with a blend of 85 percent Merlot and 15 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, the wine was divided into nearly equal parts for five months aging in used French oak barrels and stainless steel tanks. The use of older oak barrels created an aesthetically pleasing purplish hue with pronounced fruit and herbal aromas. The first sip sent ripe black cherry and blackberry flavors gliding across the palate on soft tannins and mild acidity.
Merlot is not a wine that I normally favor, except for the wines of Pomerol, which might be why I liked the 2007 Casa Lapostolle, Merlot: Chief winemaker Jacques Begarie worked at one of Bordeaux’s top estates, Vieux Chateau Certan in Pomerol.
This marriage of Old World expertise at a New World winery is a winning combination at Casa Lapostolle. Entering its second-decade, it is producing some of Chile’s best wines from its premium priced Clos Apalta to its good value, everyday wine, the 2007, Merlot, Rapel Valley.
I enjoyed the wine with grilled lamb chops; it will also be delightful in the depth of winter with beef stew, braised oxtails, or a casserole of roasted root vegetables and blue cheese.
The 2007, Casa Lapostolle, Merlot, Rapel Valley retails for approximately $14.