Two well-known Chilean producers -- Viña Santa Rita and Viña Carmen, which are both owned by Ricardo Claro -- will have access to new grape sources when they harvest next month. Santa Rita's Campo Alhue estate, in the southwestern part of the Maipo Valley, and Viña Carmen's Apalta estate will bear their first commercial crops this year.
The Campo Alhue estate, which was originally planted in 1998, covers more than 600 acres of vineyards on hilly terrain, with nutrient-poor soil (a desirable trait in land used for grapegrowing). The plantings are concentrated on Syrah, Petite Sirah and Merlot, with some Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Carmenère as well. The grapes are destined for Santa Rita's Reserva-level wines, which consistently earn scores in the "good" to "very good" range from Wine Spectator. Santa Rita's new Floresta label -- which debuted last year with an 87-point blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenère from the 1997 vintage -- will also draw grapes from the new estate.
Viña Carmen planted more than 195 acres in Apalta in 1999 to Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petite Sirah and Syrah. The Apalta area, located at the western end of the Colchagua Valley, has garnered attention recently for producing the outstanding Alpha M and Folly wines from Viña Montes and Clos Apalta from Casa Lapostolle. After determining the quality of the upcoming 2002 harvest, Viña Carmen will decide what wines it will produce from its Apalta estate.
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