Hello wine friends! It’s Wednesday, therefore it’s wine time! Today is the lesser known Chilean grape, Carménère. A close relative of Cabernet and blended and confused with Merlot for many years, try this “other” medium-bodied red for something a little different this week!
Originally grown in the Médoc region of Bordeaux, France, Carménère was mostly eradicated by the phylloxera blight in the 1800s. Winemakers fled with their plants to Chile in search of the dry, rocky, chalky soil needed for the long growing season of this versatile grape. Often mistaken for Merlot, mostly because it was planted so closely with Carménère, it is explained why Chilean Merlots always stood apart from the rest. The “lost” Carménère was only recently identified as such in the 1990s, causing Chile to claim it proudly as their own native grape.
This 2010 reserve Carménère is from the Maipo Valley near Santiago. Give this burgundy-colored red time to open up to fully allow its many flavors come to fruition. On the nose, that chalky terroir is evident along with pepper and dark fruits like blackberry. As it opens diverse flavors appear of smoky plum, licorice and cocoa that meld with velvety smoothness. This is best enjoyed young. Go experiment next time you’re at the local wine shop and ask about Carménère. You just might be surprised by this “new” found red!