Archive for ‘Carmenere’

August 29, 2017

Errazuriz Aconcagua Alto Carmenere, 2014

Sweet.  In all its meaning: As in good wine, as in good price, as in a tad too much residual sugar.  Now of course this is a dry wine with low residual sugar and it’s purely perception and barreling that throws the harmony of it all, but it does sit on the tongue with a somewhat cloying black currant finish.  But it is astonishingly good value and enormously approachable; a little less of the spice and pepper you might expect in Carmenere and a little more of the violet and rosewater you might get in Merlot, but at the price it’s worth a case.


The back history of Carmenere is interesting, if you have the inclination to Google it, because post-Phylloxera there’s virtually none left planted in Bordeaux.  And Aconcagua is (if you’re ever in Chile) a beautiful if remote valley (north of Santiago) that produces some interesting high altitude wines and worth the minor trek.


Price: $20, give or take, at BC Liquor.


Market Liquidity: This is what Decanter calls a weekday wine but which we call a stupendous value.

December 5, 2013

Carmen Gran Reserve Carmenere, 2011 & Falernia Carmenere, 2011

016So we did a cross-test with two easy to find Carmenere’s.  The Carmen Gran Reserve is a little more expensive, $24 usually, on sale for $22.  The Falernia comes in at $18.


The Carmen was potent and rich; chocolate, leather, pepper, tannic and oaky with a delectable finish and hugely satisfying.  But it also seemed a little predictable.  The Falernia, alternatively, was a shocker.  So much depth and the flavours unique.  It echoed much of the Carmen but with each glass seemed to have sweet or bitter or nutty nuances that made it more interesting.  We drank it over three nights (air vacuum seal) and it just seemed to get better.  However, it’s an inch away from fortified; have nothing nice to say about the ridiculous alcohol content.  15% indeed.


So, Iron Chef style, we give the Carmen full marks for maturity and balance, and full marks to the Falernia for out-of-the-box unexpectedness, and we tip the scales just a smidgen to the Carmen for lower alcohol.  But, seriously, $18 is a great price for decent plonk.  Just don’t drink it all in one go.


Price: Carmen, $24, Falernia, $18, both widely available at BCL.


Market Liquidity: Tie for bronze.

April 10, 2013

Casa Silva Las Lingues Gran Reserva Carmenere, 2010

073Whenever we saw it on a menu we ordered it.  It was just that good.  We didn’t drink as much Carmenere as I expected, but of all the bottles and glasses we tried this was our favorite; maybe not the best, certainly not the cheapest or most expensive, but our favorite.


It was smooth, luscious, extremely food friendly, and big.  It had some spice like a Shiraz but if I was blindfolded and asked what I was drinking I would have guessed a smooth Cab Sauv.  Which seems, in Chile, to be the perfection of Carmenere, or, rather, when Carmenere is perfect: It has all the bigness of a Cab Sauv, some of the edge of a Shiraz, but drinks easier than either, more like Merlot.  We tried glasses of various Carmeneres that didn’t quite hit the mark, but this one was pitch perfect.  And as we tried it several times we saw how flexible it was, pairing with chicken, red meat, stews and braises (as per the ribs above) pasta and even a tapas platter.


Price: In restaurants, the cheapest we came across was $26.


Market Liquidity: Like an old friend.