Everything we want in life, as consumers, we want it to be Worth Every Penny and wine is no different. It’s our rating system, it’s our mantra and I know undoubtedly, it’s your mantra as well – especially in a softened economy. We as consumers want to get the best bang for our buck as possible.
Last night was the first time I got to participate in a nice wine-tasting event with the Wines Of Chile group – live over the Internet – and this was all about Carmenere. Some folks haven’t heard of this almost-lost Bordeaux grape, however, it is starting to make a nice come-back and that’s something I’m really excited about.
As malbec has really helped put Argentina on the wine-map, so the country of Chile is hoping to do with Carmenere and if last night’s tasting is a sign of things to come then I’m very hopeful.
One of the more interesting things about this narrow-strip of land called Chile is the vastly diverse regions it has – from the desert-like, arid conditions of the north to the cooler slopes of the Andes mountains to the west and Antarctic-influenced weather patters to the far south. It’s got about as a diverse terrior as any winemaker could hope for.
Out of the nine bottles I tasted through, there were a few that really stood out from the pack and deliver exceptional value. The wines in this tasting were:
- 2007 Santa Carolina Reserva Carmenere
- 2007 Armador Carmenere
- 2007 Ventisquero Grey Carmenere
- 2007 Terra Andina Altos Carmenere – Carignan blend
- 2007 Viu Manent Carmenere
- 2008 Vina LaRosa Barrel Reserve Carmenere
- 2004 Carmen Wine Maker’s Reserve Red Wine
- 2007 Cono Sur Vision Carmenere
The ones that stood out the most to me were:
2007 Terra Andina Altos - Price $20 – W.E.P. Rating: 120%
Nose: Meaty, fruity venison on the nose along with black and white pepper petrol, blueberries, black berries, plums and figs.
Taste: Excellent and balanced fruit attack with cascading notes of figs, plums, dark cherries, leather, tobacco, leather, vanilla and some chocolate. Good finish that brings on some very good cedar notes and lingers for hours and goes down the hatch very nicely.
2007 Cono Sur – Price $15 – W.E.P. Rating: 100%
Nose: Blackberries, blueberries, caramel, black pepper for days.
Taste: Black pepper for days along with the black-fruits I love – plums and blackberries along with black cherries. Decent finish with good acids – would be a no-brainer with jerk-chicken, cajun foods or a pepper-crusted steak.
2008 Vina La Rose La Capitana Carmenere – Price: $15 – W.E.P. Rating: 110%
Nose: Pencil lead, blueberries, blackberries, white pepper with a little eucalyptus action as well.
Taste: Definitely am getting that pencil play on the front attack and it comes with some really nice blueberry and blackberry flavors with a slight hint of rose pedals. Finishes very nicely – the tannin structure is very relaxed, actually, for a wine this young.
2007 Santa Carolina Reserva Carmenere – Price: $15 – W.E.P. Rating: 115%
Nose: Venison, dark chocolate, cumin, blackberries, blueberries, cocoa powder, baby powder and spice.
Taste: Great mouth-feel and structure that holds it together across the entire palate. Good dark fruits and berries along with excellent cocoa and dark chocolate notes as well. Finishes very smoothly and is a wine that’ll give many USA producers fits for its price-range.
2007 VioManent Carmenere – Price: $18 – W.E.P. Rating: 110%
Nose: One of the more robust aroma’s have bell peppers I’ve had this side of a Loire Valley ab Franc. It’s as if someone shoved an entire bushel of bell peppers in with some white pepper, rhubarb, cherries and blackberries.
Taste: Rolled tobacco leaves, charred asparagus tips, bell pepper for days, white and black pepper along with some chocolate notes. This is a fabulous wine that screams out old-world in its “greeness” that I know a lot of folks – including e – really enjoy. Great finish, good acids – a no brainer.
There’s no doubt that many of the wines coming out of Chile are going to present very real challenges for areas like Napa, France and other regions which have seemed to out-price themselves.
Many of you who know me know that I’m very honest in my opinion of wines, regardless of who makes it – and to that end. I’m super excited to taste first-hand what Chile is doing with Carmenere. I believe it’ll become a more serious play for those seeking out excellent wine values these days and makes a wonderful addition to the type of wine values myself and others are all about.
For more information on Chile, visit: www.winesofchile.org