Chile's Viña Santa Rita has introduced a new line of wines called Floresta. Debuting with two red bottlings, the Floresta line will retail for about $25 a bottle, placing it between Santa Rita's Medalla Real varietal line and its top-end Casa Real Cabernet Sauvignon.
The first wine, which is being released this month, is a blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenère from the excellent 1997 vintage. About 1,000 cases -- one-fourth of the total production -- are being brought into the United States.
The second wine is a Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon blend from the El Niño¿troubled 1998 vintage. Despite the year's poor pedigree, Santa Rita had some old-vine lots of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon that the winemakers felt merited being released under the new label, though this blend will not be available in the United States.
These first two releases are made from fruit grown at Santa Rita's Casa Real estate in the Maipo Valley, from which Santa Rita's Casa Real Cabernet Sauvignon is made.
The Floresta line is meant to provide Santa Rita winemakers Andrés Illabaca and Cecilia Torres with a free-form venue, and future releases will be composed of different varietal blends with fruit from the Maipo estate. Upcoming releases will include a Syrah-Merlot-Carmenère 1999, a Petit Sirah-Merlot 1999 and a Cabernet Sauvignon¿Cabernet Franc¿Carmenère 1999. In addition, a single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from Apalta will also be released under the Floresta label, the only wine not to source fruit from the Maipo estate.
Check our recent ratings of Santa Rita wines.
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