Lots of people think they know a thing or two about Carmenere, Chile’s signature grape–and some really do, but a lot of people got stuck about 10 years back when this rediscovered French varietal was just coming onto the market. And it’s come a long way since then!
Adios to that green pepper bonanza, and well hello there luscious dark fruit, fresh-cracked black pepper, balanced acidity, and silky-smooth tannins.
Wines of Chile just held its 2nd On-Line Blogger Tasting to help get that point across by inviting US wine bloggers to “Discover Carmenere: the Lost Grape” during a 2-hour on-line tasting of 8 Chilean Carmeneres.
The bloggers received their wines and technical sheets in advance and at the appointed hour signed in to a special intercontinental session that brought together the 40 bloggers in their homes all across the US, with the 8 winemakers in Chile, and host Michael Greene in New York.
While Greene interviewed the winemakers, the bloggers used the session chat box to ask questions and make comments, as well as Twitter to send out general messages (check out their tweets by doing a Twitter search on #winesofchile).
You can see the entire session here: Discover Carmenere: the Lost Grape.
The evening’s lineup of 8 Carmeneres included some pure Carmenere’s and some blends, some young and fruity, some aged and complex–an interesting assortment that brilliantly highlighted the variety’s different nuances.
You can click on the wine name to download its technical sheet.
Santa Carolina Reserva Carmenere 2008: Presented by Magdalena Sosa
Denomination of Origin (D.O.) Rapel Valley
Blogger tasting notes: toast, coffee, bramble, woody, oaky, subtle pepper, just a little green pepper, nicely balanced, ripe tannins, fresh acidity
Blogger Pairing Suggestion: Steak and eggs (would be perfect with the Chilean favorite “Lomo al lo pobre”)
Odfjell Armador Carmenere 2007: Presented by Arnaud Hereu
D.O. Central Valley (50% Maipo, 50% Colchagua)
Blogger tasting notes: tar, blackberry, leather, earth, spicy, cedary, cigar, dark & floral, well-balanced, great tannins, not pretentious, fresh cracked black pepper on the finish
Blogger Pairing Suggestion: Beef stew, NY Strip steak with chimichurri, flank steak with black pepper
Viu Manent Carmenere Reserva 2007: Presented by Grant Phelps
Blogger tasting notes: earth, dark, black pepper, carnation, bell pepper, charred asparagus tips, eggplant, lots of texture, less fruity-more floral, a bit sweet, smokey, nice spice
Blogger Pairing Suggestion: Grilled hangar steak, spring lamb
Cono Sur Visión Carmenere 2007: Presented by Matías Ríos
85% Carmenere, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Syrah
D.O. Rapel Valley
Blogger tasting notes: bright berry fruit, black currant, cherry, “through the bell pepper and on to the berry patch”, smoky tomato, white & black pepper, licorice, leather, cherry cola, eucalyptus, nice mouthfeel, nice tannins and texture
Blogger Pairing Suggestion: blue cheese bacon pizza, BBQ beef
Viña La Rosa La Capitana Carmenere 2008: Presented by Gonzalo Cárcamo
D.O. Cachapoal Valley (Estate grown)
Blogger tasting notes: smoky paprika, gorgeous nose, incense, earthy cocoa and smoke, no bell pepper, blueberry, blackberry, smoky Mexican chocolate with baby powder nose, baking spices, cured tobacco, lots of chocolate, nutmeg, bitter chocolatem not a lot of oak
Blogger Pairing Suggestion: Duck Confit, ribs
Ventisquero Grey Carmenere 2007: Presented by Felipe Tosso
D.O. Maipo Valley
Named after the Grey Glaciar in southern Chile.
Blogger tasting notes: pine cone, spice, black pepper, dark-dark-dark, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, cracked black pepper, green pepper on the finish, tar, meaty, very supple mouthfeel, very personal style
Terra Andina Altos Carmenere-Carignan 2007: Presented by Oscar Salas
60% Carmenere from Maipo, 40% Carignan from Maule (Cauquenes)
D.O. Central Valley
Blogger tasting notes: cherry, canned tomato, blueberries, raspberries, Dr. Pepper, flat Coke, blueberry schnapps, pomegranate, toffee, bramble, spicy, menthol, blueberry pie, complex!, Tastes like Old World, earthy flavors, lower in alcohol,
Blogger Pairing Suggestion: Indian food
Carmen Wine Maker’s Reserve Red 2004: Presented by Sebastián Gandiolini
45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25 % Carmenere, 8.5% Syrah, 14.5% Merlot, 7 % Petite Sirah
D.O. Maipo Valley
Blogger tasting notes: elegant, refined, chocolate, subtle, vanilla tapioca, age-worthy, baking spice, dark fruit, black cherry, currants, bell pepper, black licorice, sexy nose
The two hours allotted for the tasting allowed plenty of time to explore this little-known grape and certainly changed the opinions of some of the bloggers, many of whom confessed that they had had little experience with the grape prior to the tasting.
Here’s a sampling of some of their comments:
- There are definitely Carms I would buy now. Nice to know I actually DO like them.
- Wow- Napa would do well to learn what’s going on in Chile!
- Awesome live tasting tonite! THANK YOU to ALL!
- Chilean Wine —- ROCKS!
To see the entire tasting and hear the winemakers’ comments on aspects such as oak treatment, acidification, terroir, blending grapes vs. blending terroir, where Carmenere can be grown (and can’t), the history of Carmenere, and more, see:
You can also read what the bloggers had to say on their blogs (this section will be continuously updated as new blog posts are published–let us know if we’re missing yours!):
Decatur Wine & Food Dude: Wines of Chile: Some Awesome Values in Carmenere
Atlanta Wine Guy: Wines of Chile
About.Com Wine–Stacy’s Wine Blog: Wines of Chile: Carmenere Online Tasting
Hudson Valley Wine Goddess: Wines of Chile: Carmenere – What I learned, What I Tasted
Gonzo Gastronomy: I do things I never should do, I drink much more than I ought to drink…
Wine Peeps: Wines of Chile: Wines of Chile: Exploring Carmenere
Benito’s Wine Reviews: Chilean Carmenere, Vol 2
Also of interest:
Good Grape: Making the Muse (on good wine marketing)