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The Wines of Casa Lapostolle

by Tom Cannavan. 04/05

The wines of Casa Lapostolle have long been favourites of mine. In the late 1990s the Cuvée Alexandre Merlot was one of the first Chilean wines to strike me as a totally convincing world class wine, able to compete with anything the Old or New Worlds had to offer.

Casa Lapostolle is part of the French Marnier-Lapostolle group, producers of the famous Grand Marnier liqueur. Their consultant winemaker is Bordeaux's most famous present-day oenologist, Michel Rolland, and their vineyards are spread across three diverse Chilean regions: Casablanca, Apalta and Requinoa. You can read my "Meet the Winemakers" feature on Casa Lapostolle and Managing Director Cyril de Bournet, from 2001.

This is my assessment of the current Casa Lapostolle portfolio. I am delighted to say the wines are still in great form, with Casa Lapostolle undoubtedly amongst Chile's elite. At first I found the Cuvée Alexandre reds to be rather closed, but a few hours decanting revealed these wines in all their glory, and made a dramatic difference. I would suggest that all the reds should be decanted for a couple of hours before serving, and that the Chardonnays should not be served too cold: about 45 minutes in the fridge is perfect.

See all Casa Lapostolle stockists on wine-searcher.

white wines

Casa Lapostolle (Chile) "Classic" Sauvignon Blanc 2004
The colour is an almost transparent green. The nose has a nice fat, quite oily lemon and green bean quality, with grassy undertones, and just hints of a lychee and exotic fruit. On the palate this is quite a lean, savoury style, with plenty of acidity, and a powerful streak of greenness through its core. There is a particularly sweet edge to the fruit, but with rather overwhelming alcohol (14.5%) this strikes me as perhaps too powerful for the depth of fruit. Good. £6.49, Selfridges, Partridges, everywine, Theatre of Wine, Thos Peatling, Charles Hennings Goedhuis, barrelsandbottles, Hoults.

Casa Lapostolle (Chile) "Classic" Chardonnay 2003
From the cool Casablanca valley on the Pacific coast, the wine has a delicate straw/green colour. The nose is pungent, loaded with pea pod and ripe fruit, with quite Burgundian aromas. Only a small proportion of this wine - around 15% - is fermented and aged in French oak, and this gives a sweet, nutty depth. On the palate the fruit is vivacious and fresh, with plenty of apple and pear crunch, and a sweeter suggestion of pineapple. It is a clean style, with medium body and savoury, clean acidity dominating more than a background of smoky oak. A very nicely balanced wine with god length. Very good indeed. £6.49, Selfridges, Peckhams, everywine, Partridges, Hoults, Charles Hennings, Cambridge Wine Merchants, Thos Peatling, barrelsandbottles.

Casa Lapostolle (Chile) Chardonnay Cuvée Alexandre 2003
This wine has a medium yellow/gold colour, and a nose that is immediately honeyed, buttery, and very ripe, with that Burgundian, slightly cabbagy undertone, and a smokiness from French oak. The fruit comes through as very ripe, almost tropical character, suggesting pineapple and nectarine. On the palate there is a real fruit sweetness, with plenty of luscious flavours of pineapple again, and a nice lemon acidity that adds a freshening edge. It is quite full-bodied and creamy, though it has a nicely balanced finish with spice and acidity both adding complexity. Very good indeed. £9.99, Sainsbury's (Fine Wine), Selfridges, Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Partridges, barrelsandbottles, Thos Peatling, Philglass & Swiggot, everywine.

red wines



Casa Lapostolle (Chile) "Classic" Cabernet Sauvignon 2002
This wine from the Rapel Valley spent 12 months in small French oak barrels, around 15% new. The colour is a dense crimson, and the nose offers a lovely mélange of ripe black fruit, tobacco and an earthy, cedary finesse. On the palate it is powerful and mouthfilling, with sinewy, serious, bitter-edged black fruit like cherry skins and damson plums, with plenty of acidity and a spine of tight tannins. The oak does soften the edges, adding some volume and voluptuousness, filling in the finish with toasty and spicy hints. This wine packs a lot of character and style for a modest price. Very good indeed/excellent. £6.99 Selfridges, everywine, Harrods, Bentalls, Chas Hennings, Goedhuis, barrelsandbottles, Cambridge Wine Merchants.

Casa Lapostolle (Chile) "Classic" Merlot 2003
The colour of the 2003 Merlot is a dark, plush crimson. On the nose there are notes of crushed blackberries and redcurrants. There is a leafy, briar note to this wine with a cherry fruit quality. On the palate this is quite a savoury style of Merlot, with no jammy fruit, but a more edgy, keen raspberry and redcurrant with a stripe of tannins and acidity keeping the picture quite sinewy and lean. There is good length, in a food-friendly wine. Very good/very good indeed. £7.49, Selfridges, Peckhams, everywine, barrelsandbottles, Thos Peatling, Cambridge Wine Merchants, D. Byrne, Bacchanalia, Goedhuis

Casa Lapostolle (Chile) Cabernet Sauvignon Cuvée Alexandre 2000
Very deep, solid black colour with a hint of crimson. On the nose this is very blackcurranty, with a sweet crème de cassis density, and a hint of darker, plummier fruit. There is a layering of oak, which is quite cedary and toasted, but does not dominate. On the palate this is quite a sinewy, serious mouthful of wine. In fact, this was so closed that I left the bottle overnight and re-tasted next day, when it had softened slightly, but was still a very tightly-wound, structured Cabernet which will need time in the cellar ideally. There is a great quality of fruit in here, and a very nice framework of tannins and acids, that suggest it has excellent potential. £9.99, Booths, everywine, Wineworld, Thos Peatling, Peckhams, Bacchanalia, Geodhuis, D Byrne, Hoults.

Casa Lapostolle (Chile) Merlot Cuvée Alexandre Apalta Vineyard 2002
This has a very deep, vibrant purple/black colour. The nose has a similar purity of fruit to the Cabernet Sauvignon, but with an extra perfume giving floral, rose-hip nuances to juicy red plum and ripe cherry fruit. There is a layering of dark, chocolaty, almost tobacco-like sweet oak. Once again this is a real mouthful of a wine, with a searingly dry structure of polished but incisive tannins, and a welter weight of juicy cherry acidity. The fruit is ample, with lots of bursting red berries, but this is less opulent and to me seems more tightly structured than previous vintages. That background of sweet vanillin oak adds breadth to the finish, in is another wine that will benefit from some time in the cellar to lose some of its tightness and grip. £12.99, Majestic, Thresher (Fine Wine), Sainsbury's (Fine Wine), Booths, Harvey Nichols, Harrods, Selfridges, everywine, Laytons, Thos Peatling.

See all Casa Lapostolle stockists on wine-searcher.