Confession: though I try not to fall victim to the limited land of francophiles, I admit, I have a difficult time warming to just any new world wine, particularly that of Chile. I genuinely feel it is not a snob-thing. I just consistently return to a very distinct, ‘green’ vegetal (almost chewy) sensation on the nose and palate, which never fails to turn me off.
But then Perez Cruz came my way.
The instant my nose hung above a glass of 2005 Perez Cruz Cabernet, I knew this was not another mass produced floor stacker, profiting off the allure of the exotic. This wine had integrity. Beyond the steady scent of dark cherries, blackberries, tea, vanilla and dried fruit there was a distinct component that established itself as Maipo terroir–a peaty aroma almost. It was not overdone, though. It was intriguing, thoughtful, and cozy, for lack of a better description. I was enthralled. If the land can talk to me, I can’t help but want to be fast friends.
I grew to enjoy this wine even more once I looked up the winery’s website. What began as a simple investment of land for Pablo Perez Zanarto–an opportunity for he, his wife and eleven children to play with agriculture for self-sustenance and interaction with the earth–grew to become an ideal location for cultivating vines in honor of Zanarto’s deceased father.
The soils, climate and location of the vineyard in the foothills of Maipo Alto Valley couldn’t have been more perfect for what Zanarto had in mind. Isolated in the Central Valley, blocked on all sides, safe from disease, the rich, alluvial soils are perfect for Cabernet but also the likes of Carmenere, Merlot, Syrah, Malbec and Petite Verdot–largely, Bordeaux varietals. He was determined to only plant grapes that would reflect a ‘proper identity’–a voice that sounded of Maipo. Quality uncomprimisingly takes precedent, therefore all vineyards see low yields, each grape is hand-picked, and the careful process of crushing is crucially meticulous.
This Cab had only a touch of Carmenere and Syrah (4.7%, 3.7% respectively). It sees oak for about one year after steel-cast fermentation, resting in the bottle four months before release. A smooth, steady red, surprisingly approachable without food but certainly more enriching with red meats, aged cheese, or hearty risottos.
Their 2007 Syrah Reserva is receiving outstanding reviews as is their 2004 Carmenere Reserva Limited Edition. If you are curious to see the potential of Chilean wine, the direction and depth they can and have achieved, you must get to know Perez Cruz.