Carménère , or Carmenere, was once one of the grapes of Bordeaux. It was always a problematic grape, due to late ripening, but brings some unique qualities to the wine in which it’s used. In particular, it’s known for giving a green pepper characteristic to wines, which is intensified when the grapes are harvested under-ripe. It can also have an herbaceous or tomato-like quality, which is one that I find particularly interesting.
You won’t find much of it in Bordeaux these days, as it was wiped out by a phylloxera infestation in the 1880’s. In fact, for many it was years considered a lost variety until it was rediscovered in Chile where it was being mistaken for Merlot. Since its rediscovery in 1994, Carmenere has made a comeback and become one of the gems in Chilean wine, where it is regularly produced as a single-variety wine.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve been reviewing some affordable Carmenere. Here’s the roundup.
The top pick of those tasted was the 2008 Viña La Rosa, La Capitana. This wine has exceptional complexity and is an elegant Carmenere. Chocolate, nutmeg and other spicy qualities make it interesting and luscious blackberry and blueberry flavors give it deep, concentrated flavors.
Another top pick was the 2007 Terra Andina Altos, which also has a lot of complexity, with a wonderful aroma of stewed tomatoes, cherries, cola and pencil shavings. This is an awesome wine for pasta dishes.
The best value goes to the 2007 Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo, which is an amazingly chocolaty Carmenere for only $11.00.
Here’s the full roundup:
|Vina la Rosa – La Capitana||2008||90||$18.00|
|Terra Andina – Altos||2007||88||$19.00|
|Casillero del Diablo||2007||87||$11.00|
|Odfjell – Armador||2007||86||$13.00|
|Viu Manent Reserva||2007||86||$14.00|
|Santa Carolina Reserva||2007||85||$10.00|
|Cono Sur – Visión||2007||85||$15.00|
|Espirutu de Chile – Classic||2007||81||$10.00|