As we have been singing for some time now, South America is almost all grown up. Back when we first started working with South American wines in earnest back in the early 90s, we could see that there was a lot of potential. A lot has happened since those times. If we were being completely honest, we probably couldn’t have predicted it would go this far. But it has. We have accepted it and have taken to the pulpit ourselves as we have seen some pretty amazing things coming out of South America. We have really seen an escalation in quality particularly over the last five years.
We can run through some of the big names. Catena, Clos Apalta, Caro, Sena, Almaviva, these are the banner carriers for the elite from South America. As with all wine programs, there was a process. First came the inspiration to ‘reach for the stars’. Then the producers had to learn the unique characteristics of the various vineyards in play. Vineyards don’t show you their stuff until they’re older, then you have to figure out if you have the right vines planted in the right spot. Wine growing and producing is a patient person’s game in an impatient world.
Finally there was the establishment of a style and consistency in the cellar. Sure, in all the cases, there was consistent high quality. But we can’t help but think that the wines had pretty serious international marketing behind them that helped the cause. Viña Quebrada de Macul Domus Aurea Cabernet Sauvignon has been on our radar for quite a while as well, but is only now starting to get the attention it deserves.
We’ve had a soft spot for Domus Aurea, one of the boldest, most electric Cabernets produced anywhere in the world. It’s so distinctive, full of minerals, rocks, herbs, mint, dark berry, it’s kinda like the Chilean version of a great Heitz Martha’s Vineyard, but perhaps even richer and with more base notes. Sleek, powerful yet refined, ‘Chateau Pinhead’ as we call it (the quirky label looks like a stylized native getting acupuncture) moves in a sphere all its own.
We have a long history with this wine going back over at least a decade (the 2002 might be the first version we sold if memory serves), but the press didn’t really get this unique red until Wine Advocate’s Luis Gutierrez took over the category with the 2008 vintage. He gave that wine a 94, and the trend has only gone up from there. The 2010 vintage, which we did an email offer on back in January, 2016, was considered their best effort to that time, getting a 96 point nod from Wine Advocate.
While the vintages in between have certainly been noteworthy, the 2014 Viña Quebrada de Macul Domus Aurea Cabernet Sauvignon hit the same heights as the 2010. It is a spectacular effort packed with power, polished, and expressing its full array of gifts. Luis Gutierrez said the same thing, “2014 has to be one of the finest vintages at Quebrada de Macul, with wines that remind me of the 2010 vintage.”
Given his extensive narrative, Gutierrez makes our job easy this time around, “One of the best, most classical Cabernet Sauvignons from Maipo, the 2014 Domus Aurea contains some 6% Petit Verdot, 4% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc. This wine is always balanced and elegant. In a dry year like 2014, they think the key was sensitive irrigation without excess to keep the plant with enough water supply to get through the summer without stress. It comes from a plot of vines planted ungrafted in 1970 in the outskirts of Santiago, and it’s always vinified in a simple and traditional way; the wine is fermented with indigenous yeasts after a 12-day cold soak and aged for 16 to 18 months in French oak barrels, 80% of them new…”
… 2014 is a great year for Domus; it has the notes of mint and eucalyptus, intermixed with hints of spices (cola nut and Jamaica pepper), and it’s quite aromatic, with cassis aromas and good ripeness. It has the Domus character, which is what they search for, as well as the wild character from the mountains and the stones, with that dry sensation and somewhat austere palate. It reminds me of the 2010, which was also a superb year and a textbook Cabernet from Macul. 24,491 bottles were filled in January 2016. This wine is always aged for a minimum of 18 months in bottle (often a lot longer) before it’s released…96 points.”
All we can add is that this is a remarkable, one-of-a-kind, delicious and expressive Cabernet that is likely unlike anything you have. It’s a wild ride well worth taking, a real ‘sock knocker’particularly at our special insider price. Wine Advocate shows a $75 retail, but we’re rolling it at a special at the checkout price of $54.98.