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Casa Lapostolle

Orange liqueur and business sense serves the Grand Marnier of Chile

Alexandra Marnier Lapostolle is the heiress to the Grand Marnier fortune and owner of Casa Lapostolle. She is also one of those people that can't help but roll up her sleeves and get dirty. I caught up with Ms. Marnier at Denver's Vesta Dipping Grill, on a recent visit. Marnier's creation, Casa Lapostolle, is celebrating its tenth anniversary. Ms. Marnier not only enjoys the rewards of owning a thriving wine estate, but can also stake a major claim in its success.

Her family founded Grand Marnier, but they also own Château Sancerre. She attributes Casa Lapostolle's success to her Grand Marnier legacy, "being surrounded by the concept of blending" and to the lessons learned in the vineyards of France's Loire Valley at Château Sancerre.

She flies to Chile frequently, from her home in Switzerland, to tend to the hands on tasks like pruning and crush. One of her favorite events is veraison, the magical process in which the grapes turn from green to gold, red, or purple. She spoke of the "dynamics of the soils," and how "you can't have a recipe." I kidded her about wearing rubber boots and being chased by bees, to which she laughed with a nod of recollection.

Things really started to come together for her fledgling winery, when she found Apalta in the foothills of the Andes Mountains. Apalta is an old vineyard dating before the phyloxera infestation of the late nineteenth century. Clos Apalta, her flagship wine, has been graced with glowing accolades and found a slot on the Wine Spectator 2003 Top 100. In fact, all of her wines enjoy flattering reviews on a consistent basis.

Revisiting the wines of Casa Lapostolle was truly enjoyable. The whites were well made and refreshing and reds offered a level of quality not often found in their respective prices ranges. As for Ms. Marnier, her enthusiasm for her work and her down-to-earth personality was uplifting. Pride for her label rubbed off on everyone a little that evening.
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