Originally from New Zealand, Brett Jackson is the chief winemaker for Valdivieso in Chile. Brett arrived in Chile during the 1990's and has played an important role in the country's growing status as a producer of fine wines.
When you dare to name a bottle of wine Caballo Loco (Crazy Horse), it had better be bold and unforgettable. Well, Valdivieso has certainly succeeded in creating a unique wine that takes your palate on a memorable ride. Named after one of the winery's owners who is nicknamed Caballo Loco because of his unbridled personality, Caballo Loco was first released in 1994 and immediately captured the attention of wine enthusiasts in Chile and beyond. Caballo Loco broke away from traditional wine production methods by blending young wine with previously aged wines from different vintages. Each edition of Caballo Loco is assembled with wine that has been saved from the previous edition. Only 50% of the mixture is bottled and the other half is returned to barrels to continue aging until the new harvest.
The current release, Caballo Loco Nº16 ($70), contains equal portions of Nº15 and 2011. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Carménère; Caballo Loco has both the complexity of age and vitality of youth with rich aromas and flavors of dark fruit, earth, vanilla, spice, and coffee. This is a glass of wine that you want to savor and experience how beautifully it evolves in the glass.
Caballo Loco may be the show horse of Valdivieso but this venerable winemaker has a diverse portfolio and a rich history. Founded in 1879, Valdivieso has long been synonymous with sparkling wine in Chile because they were the first to produce "vinos espumantes" in Chile and South America. Valdivieso Blanc de Blancs NV, Leyda Valley ($25) is a fantastic option when you want elegant bubbles without breaking the bank. 100% Chardonnay and produced in the traditional method, this crisp and refreshing sparkler has fine bubbles and lovely flavors of stone fruits that are balanced by minerality and flavors of toasty brioche.
With so many over-the-top Chardonnays on the scene, I was delighted by the classic elegance & purity of Valdivieso Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2013, Leyda Valley ($25). This pretty Chardonnay has great texture, perky acidity, and layers of flavor - pineapple, white peach, apricot, and a touch of almond.
If I ruled the world, everyone would drink more Cabernet Franc and Valdivieso Single Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2013, Curico Valley ($25) would be on the list of approved wines. Sourced from a vineyard that was planted 90 years ago, this elegant and earthy wine envelops the palate in concentrated flavors of red currant, blueberry, and blackberry.
Caballo Loco Grand Cru Apalta 2013, Colchagua Valley ($35) showcases one of the main components of the original Caballo Loco. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Carménère, Apalta is a fruit-forward, smooth, and silky wine that expresses a modern Chilean aesthetic.
From sparkling whites to bold reds, Valdivieso's wines are rooted in Chilean tradition but reflect an appealing openness and mastery of modernity. Give Valdivieso a swirl and unleash your inner crazy horse!