Monday, November 9, 2009

Wines of Chile: Carmenere - What I learned, What I Tasted


I recently took part in a 'Wines of Chile' Carmenere Wine tasting. (for the blog police, the wines were samples provided by Wines of Chile.)

This wine tasting was executed via the web and we all logged in and got to chat with the 8 winemakers. The tasting was moderated by wine and spirits consultant Michael Green.

The Carmenere grape is known as "the lost grape of Bordeaux." Originally planted in the Medoc region of Bordeaux until a Phylloxera epidemic wiped it out in the 1870's.  Before the outbreak, Bordeaux rootstock, Carmenere among them were brought to Chile.  They thought Carmenere was Merlot and planted it accordingly.  It wasn't until 1993 that they discovered the Merlot was actually Carmenere when renowened viticulturist Professon Jean-Michael Boursiquit of Ensa de Montepellier did a DNA screening on the grape.

I have tasted the Carmenere before and it was very spicy, spiced with black pepper, some stronger than others.  With this particular wine tasting, I found many of the wines to have a green bell pepper taste.  I am unclear if that is the grape, or they harvested it to early, over cropped it, or didn't leaf pull properly.

The wines we tasted ranged in price from $10 to $44.  Of course I found the $44 wine the most enjoyable.

Here is a brief critique of what we tasted:
  1. Santa Carolina Reserva Carmenere 2007, 100% Carmenere, $10 bottle - Black pepper on nose, green pepper on taste.
  2. Odfjel Armador Carmenere 2007, 100% Carmenere, $13 bottle - eathy, herbaceous.  I didn't like the way this wine finished.  Had a taste of cedar on the finish.
  3. Viu Manent Carmenere Reserva 2007, 100% Carmenere, $14 bottle - Alcohol on the nose with bell pepper.  I got a taste of sugar cube on the front of my tongue.
  4. Cono Sur Vision Crmenere 2007, 85% Carmenere, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Syrah, $15 bottle - nose of pine, Eucalyptus and menthol.  Also very earthy.
  5. Vina La Rosa LaCapitana Carmenere 2008, 100% Carmenere, $18 bottle - very nice.  I didn't find an green pepper on this wine.  Had black pepper on the long finish.
  6. Ventisquero Grey Carmenere 2007, 100% Carmenere, $25 bottle - nice ruby red color.  I actually smelled buffalo chicken on the nose.  Strange, I know. 
  7. Terra Andina Altos Carmenere-Carignan 2007, 70% Carmenere, 30% Carignan, $18.99 bottle - I didn't like the nose on this wine at all.  Kind of mustyness and sawdust.  Taste of cherry and blueberry with black pepper on the finish.
  8. Carmen Wine Maker's Reserve Red 2004, 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Carmenere, 25% Petit Syrah, $44 bottle - This was the favorite, figures the most expensive wine.  It had little nutmeg on the nose, smooth, nice cherry color, nicely balanced.
I would like to thank Andrea for including me in the tasting.  
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