Santa Rita 120 Merlot 2006

Santa Rita 120 MerlotPrice: $10
Maker: Viña Santa Rita S.A., Santiago, Chile
Varietal: Merlot
Packaging: 750 ml bottle, natural cork
Alcohol: 14.1%
Our Rating: 8.9 out of 10

Santa Rita 120 Merlot 2006 is a big, bold red, almost un-Merlot-like in its boldness and complexity. Its nose is pleasant but ordinary, with ripe raspberry and vanilla notes. On the palate, this Merlot starts off with the slightly sweet, rounded fruitiness of cherries and plums. As it lingers on the palate, the flavors intensify, with oak and balanced tannings coming to the fore. This flavor accelleration isn’t all that common, and it was nice to find in this Chilean Merlot. The alcohol content of this wine is shown as 14.1% on the label and 14.5% on the winery’s website – either is high for a Merlot, a fact which may explain part of the wine’s robust flavor.

The Santa Rita winery “was founded in 1880, by a distinguished entrepreneur of those times, Mr. Domingo Fernández Concha in the area of Alto Jahuel.” The 120 series, which the website lauds for its “freshness… youthness [sic]… consistency,” is named for 120 Chilean patriots, led by the improbably-named General O’Higgins, sought refuge in the cellars of Santa Rita as they fought for independence from Spain. It’s a good thing the cellars weren’t stocked with this Merlot – Chile’s independence might have been stalled for years!

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