While Carménère might not be a wine you are familiar with, it is a delicious wine with its roots in Bordeaux France and it present day live in Chile. Wines of Chile is inviting you to experience this wine in celebration of Carménère Day on November 24th. Carménère is a wine grape varietal originally from the Bordeaux region of France. Prior to the Phylloxera plague in the late 19th century that nearly destroyed the vineyards of Europe; Carménère was one of the great Bordeaux varietals and was known to provide deep red color in Bordeaux blends. Now Carménère is practically unheard of in France but has established a very strong presence in Chile where 9,000 acres of vines are planted in Chile’s Central Valley.
Luckily Carménère and other Bordeaux varietals were imported to Chile in the mid-19th century and with Chile’s minimal rainfall and its geographic isolation with the Pacific Ocean on one side, the Andes on the other and the Atacama Desert to the north, Phylloxera never took hold in Chile. In fact, for almost 150 years Chilean growers believed that the grape was a Merlot clone and only on November 24, 1994 did Jean-Marie Boursiquot discover that in many Chilean vineyards grapes previously thought of as Merlot were proven via DNA tests to be Carménère. It has now become a signature grape for Chile.
Carménère usually has a deep red color and aromas of red fruits, red berries and spice. It has a medium tannin character and delivers flavors of spice, red fruit, cherry and a very noticeable earthiness. In various Carménère you will also enjoy dark chocolate, tobacco, smokiness and leather. Carménère is easily paired with smoked and grilled meats including beef, pork, veal and chicken. Many will also do well with spicy and Asian dishes.
This reporter is joining other wine lovers and bloggers throughout the world today to celebrate the 21st birthday of the rediscovery of Carménère in Chile with a tasting of a variety of Carménère from Chilean producers.
Tamaya Winemaker’s Gran Reserva 2011 Carménère – This wine is from the Limari Valley of Chile which is one of the northern winegrowing regions of Chile. It is a special selection of the best Carménère block and best barrels, aging in French oak. The grapes are harvested by hand and gently crushed and fermented in stainless steel. It has a deep, intense purple/red color with aromas and flavors of cherry, plum, blackberry and roasted pepper leading on to a wet earth and stone quality that you expect from a fine Carménère. It has a nice long finish where hints of licorice and tobacco appear.
Casa Silva Microterroir de Los Lingues 2007 Carmenere – This wine comes from the Colchagua Valley where the bulk of the Carménère is grown. It has a nice ruby red color with some purple and starts with aromas of red and black fruits and even a touch of coffee. As you taste the wine you will enjoy the dark fruits, pepper, spices and light earthiness that leads to a long finish with good structure.
Maquis 2012 Carmenere – The family has been growing wine grapes for over 100 years and producing wine for over 15 years. This deep red wine has aromas and flavors of red and black fruit including cherry and current with spices of clove and cinnamon and a touch of cocoa. This leads to a long finish with nice tannins.
Montes Alpha 2012 Carmenere – Montes Alpha is a sustainable dry farmed vineyard in Colchagua Valley and have been making wines for over 25 years. This wine has a dark ruby red color and is a joy to drink with elegant Carménère character and aromas and flavors of black pepper, red berry, cherry, chocolate, vanilla and a slight pluminess. It is well balanced and delightfully integrated.
As part of the Carmenere Day celebration Twitter and Periscope will be hopping today, November 23rd with a live video broadcast on Periscope starting at 4 p.m. PST (7:00 p.m. EST) originating in both New York and Chile, taking viewers on a journey through the history and trends of Carménère. Viewers will also be able to submit their questions to the honored panel. In the meanwhile, Master Sommelier Fred Dex will be on @DrinkChile twitter guiding wine bloggers through a series of Carmenere tastings. Join Wines of Chile on Periscope and Twitter @DrinkChile today at 4:00 p.m. PST.
For more information:
- Twitter and Periscope @DrinkChile
- Wines of Chile
- Tamaya Winery
- Casa Silva Winery
- Maquis Wines
- Montes Alpha Winery