The Santa Carolina Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from vineyards in the Miraflores and Los Lingues estates in the Colchagua Valley in Chile. The Colchagua Valley is located between the Coastal Mountains and the Andes.
This is a wine I found at Costco selling for $7.49 a quick check of the internet found it selling online for $9.99 to $12.99. James Suckling who is probably the world’s premier wine critic gave the Santa Carolina Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 93 points. That is a very lofty score for a sub-ten-buck Red wine.
Santa Carolina was founded in 1875 and Carolina is Carolina Íñiguez who along with her husband Luis Pereira started the winery. Santa Carolina is one of the oldest and largest wineries in Chile. The winery is listed on the Bronco Wines website (Two Buck Chuck) website, they do not seem to have an ownership claim, maybe they are the US distributor.
The Colchagua Valley is an ideal place to grow grapes. It has warm days and much cooler nights followed by the morning fog that grapevines crave. The earthquake of 2010 basically destroyed the Santa Carolina winery and they were forced to rebuild (completed in 2012). Santa Carolina took the setback to reinvigorate the winery and the full lines of wines.
The vineyards are Estate vineyards which means the winery owns and operates them. Santa Carolina owns several estates being an estate winery in this instance is not as exclusive as estate vineyards in upscale wines. But it does indicate that the winery had complete control over the farming and the picking of the grapes.
Plus the winery has extensive experience with the grapes year after year. Contracted vineyards can be every bit as skilled in the vineyard as estate, but the wineries do not always have the years of knowledge with those particular grapes
This Cabernet Sauvignon was fermented in stainless steel vats then aged “in contact” with French oak for 8 months then bottle aged for an additional 4 months. Being aged in contact with French oak does not necessarily mean oak barrels were used.
An expensive Cabernet Sauvignon that was not aged in oak barrels probably would not sell well, but with value-priced Cabs, considerations need to be made. An oak barrel, especially French oak can cost one thousand dollars or more and a wine selling for $7.49 just does not have the production budget to accommodate that expense.
Oak flavoring is an expected sensation for Cabernet Sauvignon wine and often techniques other than barrels (such as oak stave added to the tank) are of higher quality than the type of barrels that would fit the budget.
So for inexpensive Cabernet Sauvignon if it tastes good, if it is a satisfying experience, then the winemaker did a good job. If barrels were used or not used isn’t of the utmost importance. The alcohol content is 13.5%,
Santa Carolina Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2018
The color is garnet red with black highlights. The nose is red berries and spice, cigar box, grilled meat, lightly herbal, hints of smoke strawberry, and chocolate. This is a very good Cabernet Sauvignon nose for such an inexpensive wine.
This is a very well-balanced Cabernet, there are sleek ripe fruit and some interesting rougher sensations. It tastes of raspberry, strawberry, black pepper, and spice. The mid-palate shows orange zest, plum, Nestles chocolate powder, and soft exotic spice.
The tannins stay out of the way, it is rare with value-priced wine that the tannins are even worth mentioning. The acidity allows all the flavors and sensations to unfold.
- I like the Santa Carolina Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2018, it sort of splits the difference between French Cabernet and California. It is sleek and lean but has tasty ripe fruit.
- This wine is a steal at $7.49 a bottle. It drinks WAY over its price tag.