Lapostelle’s winery (on the left, inside the “barrel staves”) and the Apalta vineyard, which was planted with Carmenère, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Syrah from 1920 to 2006, Santa Cruz, Colchagua Valley, Chile
Founded in 1994 by Alexandra Marnier Lapostelle and her husband Cyril de Bournet, of Grand Marnier fame, the architecturally striking winery on the hillside above the Apalta vineyards near Santa Cruz in the Colchagua Valley, Chile, utilizes age-old French techniques and superb Chilean terroirs to produce world-class wines. The winery is 100% gravity fed spanning six levels, four of which lie beneath the granite Apalta hillside, providing a naturally cool environment for cellaring and aging their wines. Grapes are hand-harvested at night and brought to the highest level of the winery where they will be de-stemmed by hand. Fermentation takes place in small French wooden vats, allowing the winemakers an opportunity to enhance the personality of the various terroir plots. After two years of ageing in two different barrel cellars, the wine is bottled for shipping or joins the underground library in the heart of the winery.
Lapostelle is owned by France’s Marnier-Lapostolle group; note that the Marnier Lapostolle family were founders and are owners of the world-renowned liqueur Grand Marnier; Santa Cruz, Colchagua Valley, Chile
In the annual review story about Chilean wines in the Wine Spectator, Kim Marcus wrote in the May 31, 2015 issue, “As a source of value-priced reds and whites, Chile is a wine-making juggernaut. It’s a testament to Chile’s development over the past two to three decades that the country can offer dozens of bottlings, including international varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, that rival counterparts from California, Australia and elsewhere in the New World. For example, it’s hard to beat the quality-to-price ratio of… a white wine such as Lapostelle’s Chardonnay Casablanca Valley Cuvee Alexandre Atalayas Vineyard 2012 (91 points, US$24), which offers lusciously spiced tropical and white fruit flavors.”
Lapostelle’s Apalta Vineyard is located in the wine-producing region of Colchagua Valley, 42 miles (68 km) away from the Pacific Ocean, between the Andes mountain range and the coastal cordillera, Santa Cruz, Chile
In creating Casa Lapostolle, the Marnier-Lapostolle family has pursued the same uncompromising approach to quality that made Grand Marnier a world-wide success. Their objective is simple as it is ambitious: to create world-class wines using French expertise and the superb terroir of Chile. The whole venture started when Alexandra and Cyril had a “coup de Coeur” for the Apalta vineyard in Colchagua.
Today 100% of the Lapostelle Apalta vineyard is certified organic; it is also certified biodynamic. In addition to its vineyards, Lapostelle is protecting more than 700 acres of native Chilean vegetation in the hills surrounding the Apalta vineyard.
The visitor’s entrance to the Lapostelle winery building, Santa Cruz, Colchagua Valley, Chile
Lapostolle winery is located in the town of Cunaco, right next to Santa Cruz. It is the original winery, where Lapostolle was founded in 1994 and today it is here where their Casa and Cuvée Alexandre wines are produced. With a traditional Chilean old hacienda style, it has a production capacity of 870,000 gallons (3,300,000 liters) in stainless steel and French oak tanks, and more than 3,500 French Oak Barrels
Gravity fed fermentation tanks with internal stainless steel cooling coils at the Lapostelle winery, Santa Cruz, Colchagua Valley, Chile
“The architecture of the fermentation room as well as the two-barrel cellars is an ellipse included in a gold rectangle. The harmony of the proportions of this elliptic plan seems to be registered in a perfect circle, like the Piazza del Campidoglio in Rome.” — http://www.en.lapostelle.com
The barrel aging cellar is on the fifth level, down, at the gravity fed Lapostelle winery, Santa Cruz, Colchagua Valley, Chile
The circular stairway connects five of the six levels at the gravity fed Lapostelle winery, Santa Cruz, Colchagua Valley, Chile
The rear of the tasting “bar” in the barrel aging room lifts up to reveal a stairwell down to the bottle aging cellar at the bottom level of the Lapostelle winery, Santa Cruz, Colchagua Valley, Chile
“In the southern hemisphere we can’t see the Pole Star but we have the constellation of the Southern Cross. So we liked the symbol of having our winery oriented in the same direction as this extremely important constellation of stars in the southern sky. The vertical way between the arrival of the grapes and the bottling has a fluidity course close to the natural slopes. The hill has been dug according to the same invisible and underground lines followed by water during thousands of years.
“This is why it was decided to let the entire wall in the wine library be the natural granite rocks with the existing cascade. The decision to return the rocks which we found when we had to dig, into the form of floor slabs is another example of the will to have a continuous relationship with nature.” — http://www.en.lapostelle.com
Carved out of the local granite, the bottle aging room is on the lowest level of Lapostelle winery, below the barrel aging room (pictured above), Santa Cruz, Colchagua Valley, Chile
Our favorite wine in the tasting which followed our extensive tour of the winery was the 2012 Clos Apalta. Of course, it is the top estate wine produced by Lapostelle and priced accordingly. It is an outstanding example of great Chilean Carmenère. The 2012 Clos Aalta is comprised of: 66% Carmenère, 19% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, all from the Colchagua Valley. At our tasting we were informed that the 2005 Clos Apalta was the number one wine in the Wine Spectator‘s “Top 100” for 2008. It was easy to see how. Wow — our tasting notes said “beautiful!” And it should age nicely and be magnificent a decade down the road…
Our wine tasting at Lapostelle winery featured five superb red wines, several of which we got to enjoy in the afternoon with our on-site luncheon (see the next blog post), Santa Cruz, Colchagua Valley, Chile