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
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.
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.
Wine: Carménère Reserva, Santa Ana Vineyard
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.
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.
Appellation: Valle Central, Chile DO
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.