Tasting Group: Chilean Carmenere



By Kori ~ August 3rd, 2011.

Since we live in Washington State and often drink wines from Washington State, we want to make sure that we continue to hone our knowledge of the entire world of wine and maintain well-rounded palates in order to make us even more objective when we evaluate wines from Washington State. Therefore, we are thoroughly enjoying our Wine Peeps Tasting Group which includes what we think is an excellent peer group of knowledgeable wine lovers to taste, share, and learn more about wine together. Unlike our monthly wine tasting dinners in which the guests rotate, this tasting group includes people who are committed to getting together once a month which we believe benefits all of us. In addition to trying varieties and regions that we do not taste frequently, the other main difference between this group and our wine tasting dinners is that each group member brings a bottle consistent with the month’s theme so no one knows all the wines in the blind tasting.

Last week, our tasting group met and explored Carmenere from Chile. Carmenere, a red varietal originally found in the Bordeaux region of France, disappeared from European vineyards almost completely in the mid-19th century. Today, Carmenere is known as Chile’s signature grape, having been discovered in that country in 1994 among vines that were previously thought to be Merlot. It is a deeply colored red grape that seems to thrive in Chile’s Mediterranean climate with sunny days and dramatically cooler nights. Grown in the right conditions, Carmenere has the ability to produce very fine wines that exhibit the finesse of Merlot and the structure of Cabernet Sauvignon.

We tasted seven bottles of Chilean Carmenere, and the consensus favorite was the 2007 Montes Purple Angel Carmenere from the Colchagua Valley. We also thought that the 2009 Viu Manent Carmenere Reserva and the 2008 Santa Rita Reserva Carmenere were very good. As far as bang-for-your-buck goes, the Viu Manent is hard to beat.

If you’ve never had Carmenere or want something different than Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon for a change, I encourage you to give Chilean Carmenere a try.

From 1st to last in the group consensus rankings:

2007 Montes Purple Angel Carmenere (Colchagua Valley, Chile): 92% Carmenere and 8% Petit Verdot. Dark purplish red in color. Beautiful bouquet with cinnamon, clove, and black cherry aromas. More cinnamon, clove, black cherry, and a hint of smoked meat come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity and medium, drying tannins. Well-balanced with a long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 2 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Fine Wine and Cigars (Redmond, Washington), $54; Available elsewhere, $40 to $64

2009 Viu Manent Carmenere Reserva (Colchagua Valley, Chile): Deep, purplish red. Aromatic with red fruit, vegetal notes, and a bit of barnyard funk on the nose. More red fruit, green bell pepper, and black pepper come through on the palate. Full-bodied with lively acidity, medium to high tannins, and a long, slightly bitter, finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Esquin Wine Merchants (Seattle, Washington), $10; Available elsewhere, $9 to $11

2008 Santa Rita Carmenere Reserva (Rapel Valley, Chile): Deep, dark purplish red. Nice nose with perfume, floral, spice, and smoked meat aromas. Olive, smoked meat, and floral notes on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity, medium tannins, and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Esquin Wine Merchants (Seattle, Washington), $21; Available elsewhere, $10 to $19

2009 Panilonco Carmenere Reserve (Colchagua Valley, Chile): Deep ruby red. Ripe red fruit, green bell pepper, spice, and smoked meat comes through on both the nose and palate. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity, medium to high, drying tannins, and a long finish.
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Trader Joe’s (Seattle, Washington), $4

2006 Alcance de Viña Calina Carmenere (Maule Valley, Chile): Deep, dark purplish red. Very stinky at first with barnyard and vegetal aromas. Ripe red fruit, especially raspberry, and green bell pepper on the palate. Seems slightly fizzy. Medium-bodied with crisp acidity, sweet tannins, and a long finish.
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 1 bang for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Esquin Wine Merchants (Seattle, Washington), $15; Available elsewhere, $14 to $18

2009 Manos Negras Carmenere (Colchagua Valley, Chile): Deep, ruby red in color. Aromas and flavors of ripe black fruit, pencil lead, green bell pepper, and a hint of bacon. Medium to full-bodied with tart acidity, medium to high tannins, and a thin finish.
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 1 bang for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: McCarthy & Schiering Wine Merchants (Seattle, Washington), $15

2009 Haras Carmenere (Maipo Valley, Chile): Deep, dark purplish red. Very stinky nose with canned corn and car exhaust aromas that lead to medicinal and vegetal flavors. Full-bodied with lively acidity, medium, drying tannins, and a long, bitter finish.
Quality: 2.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: NR (not recommended)
Where to buy: McCarthy & Schiering Wine Merchants (Seattle, Washington), $7; Available elsewhere, $10 to $12


Filed under: Carmenere, Chilean Wine, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Red Wine, Tasting Group, Wines NOT To Buy (1 & 2 Star), Wines Over $25, Wines Under $10, Wines Under $15, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25

Reader's Comments

  1. Mike Veseth | August 4th, 2011 at 10:46 am

    Do you have any of that Haras left? Can’t resist canned corn and car exhaust (diesel or unleaded?).

  2. Kori | August 5th, 2011 at 8:43 am

    Mike,
    Sorry, the leftover Haras went down the drain. :) I’d say it was unleaded, more sulfur than oil. Cheers!

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