26 October 2011

Ocho Carménères Chilenos

The latest group of bottles from Wines of Chile comprised an octet of Carménère. Yes, they drop the accent marks for most marketing these days, but I never pass up an opportunity to use special characters. Your fancy iPhones and modern web browsers support Unicode, so why not make use of it? Someday I'll finally get to review something in the Eastern Canadian Inuit language ᐃᓄᒃᑎᑐᑦ.

One of the themes of the online tasting and video conference from Chile was curry. I made a curried custard pumpkin with one of the spice blends, and will do something with the other blend soon. More later... Let's get to the wines.

2010 Emiliana Natura Carménère
Colchagua Valley
$17, 14% abv.
Black cherry, dark and tannic, rough start, slow finish. A common theme throughout these wines is that every single one was better the second day. They're all a little young and brash at the moment.

2008 Casa Silva Los Lingues Gran Reserva Carménère
Colchagua Valley
$22, 14% abv.
Bell pepper and green tobacco, a solid example of the grape if you want to introduce a friend to it.

2008 Santa Rita Medalla Real Gran Reserva Carménère
Colchagua Valley
$20, 14.1% abv.
Light cherry and spice. Bit of tomato leaf. Definitely more subtle than some of the others.

2008 Montes Alpha Carménère
Colchagua Valley
$24, 14.5% abv.
Strong tobacco leaf, dark plum, deep tannins. A heavy hitter, and definitely in need of breathing, but then it can stand up to pretty hearty fare.

2009 Carmen Gran Reserva Carménère
Apalta Valley
$17, 14% abv.
Pretty solid with some tobacco and smoke, black cherry and cinnamon. With leftovers, a great burger wine.

2009 Santa Carolina Reserva de Familia Carménère
Rapel Valley
$20, 15% abv.
Bright cherry, firm tannins, softer finish. A lighter Carm if you're looking for a milder experience.

2009 Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Carménère
Rapel Valley
$20, 14% abv.
Definitely one of the smoothest and well balanced straight out of the bottle. Black cherry and just the tiniest green pepper notes. Restrained in every regard and quite lovely. Tannic finish that will probably soften in a few more years.

2007 Haras de Pirque Cabernet Sauvignon/Carménère
Maipo Valley
$13, 14.5% abv.
My utter favorite label of the tasting, because I love simple black and white design and reversed text. The wine is way too heavy on the green and vegetal scale, though. Which is doubly surprising because this is the oldest wine of the tasting. It still smells and tastes like freshly cut tomato leaves, and the tannins have not softened. I will say that this one was considerably better after being open for a day.

Note: These wines were received as samples.


Alana said...

Nice article. I found that the Carmenere sent this year showed better than the ones I received for the 2009 WOC tasting. More complexity and earthiness. The fruit still stands up but is more nuanced (thankfully).

Overall, I'm of the opinion that Chile needn't hang their hat on one grape, the Chards and Pinots from the cooler AVAs hold a lot more interest for me.

Benito said...


The WOC tasting in 2008 was my favorite, with some really great, well-aged blends towards the end.

I still see the Pinot Noirs as a work in progress, but I like where things are heading.