Santa Rita Medalla Real Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Chile
What: With all the great wine coming out of Chile, it’s hard to pick a favorite, so I rely on several when I need a go-to wine. The Medalla Real Cabernet Sauvignon from Santa Rita certainly is one of those.
It’s a rich, lush wine with a lot of fruit flavor, and smooth, sweet tannins. The wine is strong and powerful without overpowering you. It’s great as a sipper, but even better with food as the complex and concentrated flavor plays off the tastes of the food.
The wine is 95 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 5 percent Cabernet Franc.
The grapes for this wine are hand picked from the estate’s oldest and best vines, planted in 1970 at 1,640 feet above sea level in the Alto Jahuel vineyard in the famed Maipo Valley. The influence of the nearby Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean creates a big temperature swing from day to night and a gradual decrease of temperatures toward the end of summer. This allows grapes to ripen slowly and concentrates flavors.
After fermentation the wine is aged 12-14 months in French oak barrels, one-third new, one-third used once and one-third two years old.
The wine is a beautiful deep red in the glass with aromas of red and black fruit. On the palate you get a lot of plum and blackberry with supple tannins. The finish on this medium-bodied wine is strong and lasting.
The wine has the intensity and depth of a much more expensive Cab.
Winery: Santa Rita is one of the three largest wine producers in Chile, exporting 1.3 million cases of wine per year to more than 70 countries.
It traces its history back to 1880 when Domingo Fernández Concha founded Viña Santa Rita in the area of Alto Jahuel in the Maipo Valley. The winery’s main production facilities are still in the same area.
From the end of the 19th Century to the mid-1970s, the winery developed under the ownership of the García Huidobro family. It was one of the first wineries to plant European grape varieties in Chile.
The winery was bought in 1980 by Ricardo Claro and the Claro Group and now owns more than 7,900 acres of vineyards. In 2010 is was chosen winery of the year for the 10th time by Wine and Spirits magazine.
The vineyards are spread throughout Chile’s most important appellations: the Maipo Valley; Casablanca; Rapel; Apalta; Leyda and Curico, enabling access to diverse climates and terrain. The winery is known for its focus on terroir, innovation, sustainable agriculture and brand development.
Ricardo Claro died suddenly in 2008, but only after establishing a museum of Chilean and Latin American culture that opened in 2006 next door to the winery. The world-class exhibits of historical and pre-historical Chilean culture include pottery, weapons, tools, clothing, jewelry and equestrian items, and the museum is now a major attraction.
The Santa Rita brand includes the 120 series of mid-level wines, the top-tier Casa Ral and Trip C, which was ranked 47th in the 2008 Wine Spectator Top 100 wines list. The group also owns or part-owns Carmen, Doña Paula and Los Vascos wineries.
The winery is named after Saint Rita, who was born in Casia, Italy in 1381. As a child she demonstrated her devotion for God. Nevertheless, obeying her parents, who had destined her for marriage to a young man of the village. Her matrimonial life was a martyrdom, as her husband was drank heavily, played around and beat her.
She gave birth to twins, but tragedy soon followed. During one year, her husband was murdered and her children died of a serious disease. Once alone she decided to dedicate her life to God, but because she was a widow she was not allowed to enter the convent.
Legend has it that one night angels appeared and took her to Casia’s Convent, which had previously rejected her. To prove her obedience, the Superiors from the convent, told her to water every day a dry vineshoot of grapevine.
In spite of the mocking smiles of the other convent residents, Rita’s devotion to the plant, brought forth big clusters of exquisite grapes. Rita died in 1457, after suffering for four years a painful and unknown disease. She was declared a Saint in 1900, and is known as the saint of the Impossible Reasons.
Goes with: This was a perfect wine with a special treat I imported from Chicago: Italian beef sandwiches. I’ve never understood why you can only get these great, meaty sandwiches in the Chicago area.
They’re extremely tasty, full of lean beef that’s been cooked with herbs and spices, and served on a piece of baguette. Most times they come with slices of sauteed green pepper.
For a few years I was able to get my fix at Dino’s/Papa-N-Sons, but since they closed their doors I haven’t been able to get one of these beauties in Augusta. So I ordered a kit from Tastes of Chicago, a website where I usually get a Lou Malnati’s deep dish pizza. But I also yearn for Italian beef or Chicago hot dogs from Portillo’s or cheese corn and caramel corn from Garrett’s. As great as Augusta is, there are some things you can’t find here.
I would try to make the beef, but it is sliced paper thin, and I don’t have any way to do that, so I am thrilled with what I get from Portillo’s. When I order the kit it makes enough for at least three meals.
The wine was a great match for the spicy sandwich. The lush fruit and sweet tannins are a great balance to the spice in the meat.
Medalla Real Cabernet Sauvignon also would pair well with steaks, game, hearty stews, casseroles and ripe, semi-creamy cheeses.
Rich, Lush Santa Rita Cab Great With Food
Santa Rita Medalla Real Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Chile