Upper Maipo Valley, Chile
House of Gold
Named after Emperor Nero’s ambitious palatial complex, this single-vineyard wine hails from the hillside plot, Clos Quebrada de Macul. The Peña family planted cabernet sauvignon on Clos Quebrada de Macul’s poor, alluvial soil in 1970 when it was unheard of to plant a vineyard on difficult, low-yielding sites such as this. The vineyard’s elevation at almost 3,000 above sea level brings a 40-degree swing in temperatures between day and night.
Harvesting is done by hand on the Peña’s 16 organically farmed hectares and although 2019 was quite warm, the vintage produced excellent results for cabernet. The winery, Viña Quebrada de Macul, sets out to highlight their vineyard’s unique terroir by not filtering the wine and racking it back to their own barrels after maceration. Domus Aurea is then aged for 18 months in barrels, 80% of which are new French oak with varying degrees of medium to light toast on the barrels.
Wine in a Feeding Bottle
Vineyard management and winemaking for Domus Aurea are the realms of Frenchman Jean Pascal Lacaze, who claims that he developed a taste for wine when his grandfather served him the family’s Bordeaux in his feeding bottle as a baby. Besides feeding him wine as a baby, his grandfather filled young Jean Pascal with his vision for viticulture and vinification. He went on to ply his trade in various chateaus in St. Emilion while studying Economics in Montpelier. He eventually landed a job as a wine maker for Casa Filguera in Uruguay before returning to St. Emilion for the 2002 harvest. Soon after, his journey took him to Chile where he was pegged to head up the famed Clos Quebrada de Macul and produce its world-renowned Domus Aurea as well as the winery’s other labels, Alba de Domus and Stella Aurea.
On the nose the Domus Aurea 2019 delivers a rich, balsamic characteristic along with currant and figs and a touch of subtle oak in the background. The wine shows off an intense ruby color in the glass. It is highly recommended that the wine be decanted for two hours before tasting. It allows for the tannins to round a bit and the flavors to develop. The quality of the wine is evident from the first sip; it’s deep and highly structured with a smooth intensity highlighted by a beautiful combination of wild berries and spice.
Cigar Pairing: Eiroa 20 Years
The Eiroa 20 Series is a beautifully soft-pressed robusto with a balanced combination of nuts, cedar, cinnamon, and cream. The Domus Aurea introduces an interesting texture to the smoke. As the tannins linger on your palate after a sip, the first couple of puffs from the Eiroa struggle to break through but as they do, the original flavors of the cigar start to come through with a sweeter, extra-creamy twist. Every subsequent draw produces a newly opened flavor box.