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100pt Red That Topped the First Growths

Email sent: May 5, 2021 3:00am
Crafted by Michel Rolland from 100-year-old vines, the 2017 Clos Apalta boasts a 100-point score that puts it among the world’s absolute best.
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A Chance to Taste 100-Point Perfection

Clos Apalta and Michel Rolland have drawn such a powerful red from their century-old vines, it was anointed as one of the world’s best with a 100pt score—a feat that not even First Growths and Napa legends could match.

Colchagua Chile 2017

Clos Apalta

Colchagua Chile

$125.00 1-5 bottles Buy Now
$115.00 6+ bottles 8% off Buy Now
Shipping included on $120 or any 6 bottles.
100 pts

James Suckling

Welcome to the Realm of Perfection

Welcome to the top. Not just of South America, not just of the Southern Hemisphere. The top of everything. That’s where the 2017 Clos Apalta holds court. From century-old vines, this powerful, polished red’s 100-point score anoints it as one of the greatest wines anywhere. It's a score not even the Bordeaux First Growth 2017s could match. 

Endlessly complex and supremely balanced, the 2017 Clos Apalta is a bottle so brilliant that it transcends the tasting table, the discussions, and the commentary. It’s pure art, single-handedly reaffirming to us why wine is the most incredible beverage on the planet. 

This is the realm of perfection, home to wines that set collectors salivating and auctioneers rattling off four-digit bids. A taste of 100-point excellence in Bordeaux or Napa can cost hundreds. And the 2017 Clos Apalta surpassed reds from First Growths like Château Margaux (99pts, $596) as well as California legends like Bryant Family (96pts, $511) in the eyes of James Suckling, asserting itself as both a world-beating bottle and a rare value. 

Today, you can experience vinous perfection for $125. That’s not something we get to say often. We have 22 cases while they last.

Crafted by living-legend winemaker Michel Rolland, Clos Apalta’s dark-fruit power exhibits intriguing spicy depth and floral aromatics. In his 100-point rave, James Suckling called the wine “Outrageous and so polished,” fawning over its “fantastic length and composure.” That intense complexity is drawn from pristine Colchagua Valley vineyards owned by the Marnier Lapostolle family, who spent 25 years searching for the perfect terroir to craft powerful reds. Based on this bottle, they found it. 

Clos Apalta benefits from a terroir different from the other two great iconic wines of Chile—Sena and Almaviva—and is arguably truest to the national expression in its grape selection. The growing season is long and even, meaning ripeness is almost guaranteed. Sequestered in the horseshoe of the region’s coastal mountains, the shadows cut down the blinding sun the land receives, ensuring that the grapes maintain their natural stock of acidity, which often has to be added post-facto at other Chilean estates.

The Marnier Lapostolle family’s goal was to create a Bordeaux-style estate. In fact, today they are able to craft old-school Bordeaux blends that are even more authentic than much of what you’ll find along the Gironde, because of the presence of the Carménère grape in the wine, which used to grow in Bordeaux but is now largely extinct there.

It’s the 48% Carménère that gives this wine its haunting fragrance—blackberry and blueberry aromas with notes of violet, exotic spices, anise, and clove. The ancient, dry-farmed Cabernet (26%) bulks things up with muscularity and broad, cashmere tannins while the Merlot (25%) and a touch of Petit Verdot (1%) soften all the power and flood the palate with notes of ripe dark fruit and spice. The wine receives a lavish 27 months in 85% new French oak barrels, where it develops its excellent balance and polish. 

This wine belongs in auction houses and high-rolling collector circles, which is where it very well might end up. But today, the price of admission to 100-point perfection is only $125.

Wine Access Tasting Notes

Deeply pigmented, opaque purple-black color. Beautiful and complex aromas of ripe blackberry, blueberry, pomegranate, and kirsch fruit are complemented by a backdrop of violets, wild flowers, exotic spices, anise, clove, and sweet tobacco. Powerful, tightly wound, and energetic, while maintaining a graceful elegance. It is loaded with highly polished satiny tannins, and perfectly balanced in its expression of ripe black fruit, exotic spice, and savory flavors. This is proof of why Clos Apalta is one of the standard bearers of Chilean wine. Unabashedly youthful and enjoyable for its fiery energy, it should settle into a more complex expression in a couple of years, and drink well for the next couple decades. Drink now - 2042.

Oak Intensity
Fruit Intensity

Critic Reviews

100 pts
James Suckling

What a stunning nose of crushed berries, fresh flowers, sandalwood and light vineyard dust. Black olives, too. Very complex. Full-bodied with a beautiful, dense palate of blackberries, chocolate, walnuts and cigar box. Fantastic length and composure. The tannin just rolls over the palate. Very structured. The most classically structured wine ever from here. Goes on for minutes. Outrageous and so polished. A blend of 48% carmenere, 26% cabernet sauvignon, 25% merlot and 1% petit verdot. Try after 2025.

Wine Facts

Food Pairings

red-meat hard-cheese
Alcohol by volume
15% alcohol by volume
2 hours decanting time
Serving temperature
62° F serving temperature
Drinking window
Now - 2042 drinking window
Cabernet Sauvignon
Petit Verdot

Clos Apalta

Colchagua Chile

Colchagua Chile 2017
$125.00 1-5 bottles Buy Now
$115.00 6+ bottles 8% off Buy Now
Shipping included on $120 or any 6 bottles.

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