Because I love tasting wines from around the world, I have purchased many Chilean wines (as well as received samples). My big news is that I am blown away by how much the quality of Chile’s red wines has risen just in the last year. The first time (2009) I sat through a Carmenére tasting, I ended up recommending a Sauvignon Blanc to my readers. Even though I’m a huge fan of Chilean whites* and Pinot Noirs, I was less than enthusastic about Chile’s effort to promote Carmenére as their signature grape.
Don’t get me wrong, Carmenére is no backwoods weird varietal; it enjoys a fine pedigree. Here’s a fun fact from Wine.com: Carmenère is yet another grape that was eventually exiled from the Bordeaux blend. In the late 1800′s, Carmenère was brought over to Chile from France, and it never turned back. For a while, Chilean growers thought this grape was Merlot and labeled their wines as such. But in the early nineties, thanks to DNA testing, vineyards were revisited and the grapes correctly labeled, and Carmenère was discovered to be the backbone of many Chilean wines.
Without further commentary, I’m happy to recommend the following Chilean Carmenéres. Happy shopping!
- Santa Carolina Reserva de Familia, Carmenère 2009 ($10)
- Natura, Carmenère 2010 (Made by Emiliana) ($10) This wine is organic, I’ll be writing a post about organic wines soon.
- Paso Grande Valle Control, Carmenère 2010 ($10)
- Montes Alpha Colchagua Valley Carmenère 2008 ($15) Montes Alpha makes consistently good value wine.
- Margues de Casa Concha Carmenère 2009 ($16) Made by Concha y Toro, another big name and easy to find.
- Carmen Gran Reserva, Apalta Carmenère 2009 ($17)
- Novas Limited Selection Carmenère / Cabernet Sauvignon ($15) This is what I call a Saturday night wine – complex, smooth, drinkable now. Very nice wine.
Most of these wines are widely distributed thus easy to find. I hope you enjoy them.
*Chilean White Wine post coming soon~ I’m tasting a bunch of Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blancs this month.
Picture taken in Chile on the Wine Writer’s Trip sponsored by Winebow. I’m in the hat and that’s the famous Karen MacNeil who wrote The Wine Bible next to me.