Castillero del Diablo Reserva Carménère‎ 2013

More Carménère from Chile!  This one had a lighter flavor profile than the others I’ve had.  Well, the other two.  Ha!

Winemaker:  Castillero del Diablo (by Concha Y Toro)
Wine:  Carménère Reserva
Varietal:  Carménère
Vintage:  2013
Appellation:  Chile
Price:  $13.99

Notes:  In the glass this wine was a pretty burgundy.  In the bouquet I got scents of sweet red berries, mint and a touch of wet forest floor.  It was medium-bodied with high acidity and alcohol at 13.5%.  The tannins were gentle.  Flavors I found included oak, dark cherry, a hint of pepper, and a shot of bitters.  It had a long finish that lingers on a cherry note.

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Marchigüe Carménère‎ 2012

When I grabbed this off the shelves, I’d only had one other single varietal wine made with Carménère grapes.  That was the Anakena Carménère‎ that I’d had while on travel over a year ago.  Clearly, then, it was high time to take the plunge once again.

Winemaker:  Marchigüe
Wine:  Carménère Reserva, Santa Ana Vineyard
Varietal:  Carménère
Vintage:  2012
Appellation:  Colchagua Valley, Chile DO
Price:  $7.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes:  In the glass this Chilean was a deep, dark red.  In the bouquet I detected scents of menthol, tea leaf, rubber, and cherry.  It was medium-bodied with good acidity and alcohol at 13.5%.  I thought the tannins were medium and fairly aggressive in their onset/grip.  Flavors I found included rubber, black cherry, pepper, menthol and ash with a dose of bitters.  All in all, I thought it was an OK wine but not at all balanced.  If you choose to grab a bottle, I would serve it with a beef or perhaps lamb dish that would stand up to the rubber, menthol and bitters in this wine’s flavor profile.

Anakena Carménère‎ 2012

Getting a chance to travel once in a blue moon allows me – among other things – the opportunity to check out wine retailers I don’t usually have access to.  This time around I had the chance to drop in at a Total Wine.  There are Total Wine locations in my home region, but none particularly close.  So when on a recent trip I found there was a Total Wine (on the same block as a BevMo!, no less) just up the street from my hotel, I clearly had to take a look.

It was an interesting experience.  I was expecting a typical big box store — lots of wine displayed in a fairly open space and  lots of light.  Not here.  This store did have loads of wine.  Oh my!  But there was such a large selection that they had crowded the store with very tall shelving (ladders needed to get to the top shelves) packed tightly together (one way only if you had a shopping cart).  It was like going into your neighborhood wine store that had been magically enlarged ten- or twenty-fold.

While I could have spent my whole trip exploring those shelves, wine tasting wasn’t the primary goal for my journey.  Eventually, then – because I was reduced to a gibbering idiot by the sheer magnitude of choices available – I asked a friendly staff person to recommend an inexpensive red that wasn’t your run-of-the-mill selection.  She was very quick to suggest this Carménère.

Winemaker:  Anakena
Varietal:  Carménère
Vintage:  2012
Appellation:  Valle Central, Chile DO
Price:  $7.99

Notes:  In the glass this Chilean red was a dark purple.  On the nose I found scents of dark berries and wood.  The body was light.  Tannins were modest (more than light but not what I would call medium).  Acidity was fairly high, and alcohol was at 13% .  Flavors for me were oak, plum and berries with a touch of eucalyptus on the quick finish.  I liked this Carménère but thought it might have been just a little heavy on the wood – at least in my book.  I will say that it may be better suited as an accompaniment to a meal than as a wine to sip and savor alone (which is what I did).  Perhaps pairing this Anakena with a casual meal – beef stew or sausage pasta – is the way to best enjoy it.  It’s always fun to try something new, and this time I doubled up … new store, new wine.