What to Drink Now: Carmenere

I attended a Chilean wine webinar the other day teaching and tasting all things Carmenere and Carmenere blends.  Known to be the signature red grape of Chile, Carmenere is a smoky and spicy wine filled with roasted pepper, mingled with bold fruit and earthiness. Carmenere is a great food wine, pairing perfectly with grilled meats, hearty stews and spicy Mexican and Latin flavors.  Of the wines we tasted here are some of the stand outs.

2008 Casa Silva Los Lingues Gran Reserva 100% Carmenere from the Colchagua Valley.  Hand picked and hand sorted grapes which are carefully handled from vineyard to winery to ensure the best care is given to these high quality grapes.  The wine undergoes malolactic fermentation in French oak barrels, and is then aged for 10 months, 85% in French oak, 15% in stainless steel.  The result, a round wine with intense black cherry, black berry and forest floor aromas, leading to black cherry, cedar and spice on the palate with a long finish.  

Haras de Pirque 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon/Carmenere blend from the Maipo Valley. This blend also brings in a bit of Cabernet Franc and Syrah creating a complex flavor profile of spice, smoke, leather and tobacco with earthy mineral elements and concentrated fruit flavors.  Aged 14 months in French oak this hand picked wine is bottled without fining or filtration, keeping the true flavor of the wine intact.

Emiliana Natura 2010 Carmenere from the Colchagua Valley brings in just a bit of Syrah with the Carmenere making a lush, vibrant wine filled with ripe red cherry, red plums, freshly cracked black pepper and charred red pepper.  These organically farmed grapes are aged just 6 months this is a youthful, juicy wine with bright acidity that can be enjoyed now or aged a few years to allow the tannins to soften.

Montes Alpha 2008 Carmenere from Colchagua Valley.  Hand picked grapes using small bins to keep the grapes in an optimal condition while being transported to the winery, then macerated for 7 days, fermented for 10 days and aged in new and used French oak barrels for one year.  A silky wine with a beautiful garnet color, and filled with chocolate, red berry, pepper and just a hint of vanilla.

Santa Carolina 2009 Reserva de Familia Carmenere from Rapel Valley.  100% hand picked Carmenere aged 15 months in French oak, then held and bottle aged for another 6 months before release.  Dense and concentrated with herbal, earthy notes along with ripe black fruit, dried plum and black pepper.  An interesting wine that benefits from decanting, getting better and better after allowing it to open up for a while.

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