Have you already forgotten your New Year Resolutions? Well I haven’t! My first “Resolution Wine” of the the new year is Carmenere from Chile. If you haven’t had any yet then it’s certainly time to try some now.
Carmenere is quickly becoming Chile’s Malbec. By that I mean that as Malbec has come to define Argentina, so too will Carmenere come to define Chile. The reason is simple – in addition to the terrific Cabernet Sauvignon we get from Chile, Carmenere holds a more unique place in the world of wine.
In France, it’s native land, it never achieved the greatness of a standalone varietal. It was virtually always just used as part of blending in Bordeaux. Not so in Chile. Carmenere found its way there in the 1800’s with other French varietals and it began to thrive. However it was often mistaken for a local “Merlot” – until some testing in the mid 1990’s nobody really knew what it was. And the Chilean “Merlot” that was rather unusual finally found its place.
Chile is now the only place in the world that is widely growing Carmenere – and making wines that have dramatically become a uniquely Chilean entry into the world wine scene. What can you expect? In an earlier post I wrote “it’s got a dark and fruity flavor with an almost smokey character that to me is like a rustic version of Merlot.” Hey, I stand by that! But let’s get a little deeper.
It’s a deep ruby red that seems to glow in the glass. When I sip a Carmenere I usually find a dense black cherry flavor with hints of spice and just a touch of mocha. It’s that spice that makes it more rustic and, to me, unique to the grape. In some of the wines it’s a definite peppery quality; in others more like cloves or allspice. But, guess what – there’s no need to get all caught up in any of these subtleties if you just want a juicy, tasty, accessible, everyday glass of red in your hand. And that’s the particular reason I am coming to love Carmenere. It’s got really good acidity but isn’t very tannic meaning this is a wine that is great all by itself to sip and perfect with a burger or just about any thing off the grill. It’s also a wine to reach for with some more challenging dishes like Mexican food.
And the best part is that it is really – and I mean really – affordable. Most of the Carmenere you’ll find on the shelves is well under $20. How good is that! There is also highly regarded, costly bottles too – but let’s walk before we run.
Here are some to try that are pretty widely available. If you don’t see any at your wine store just ask them to get some for you – you’ll be doing both of you a favor. Let’s sip!
Every Days Sips
2014 Root 1 Carmenere $10
2015 Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Carmenere $10
2013 Chono Carmenere Single Vineyard $12
2014 Casas del Bosque Reserva Carmenere $14
2011 Montes Alpha Carmenere $20
2014 Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Carmenere $20
NOTE: I you want to learn a lot more about the wines of Chile you can visit the official site here.