Viña Carmen Carménère

Viña Carmen CarménèreAs I’ve mentioned in previous posts, Carménère is a variety once used in Bordeaux wines that has recently made a revival.  It was always a hard grape in Bordeaux, due mostly to late ripening.  And then it was wiped in France, in part by a phylloxera infestation in the 1880’s.  For years it was considered a lost grape, but was in fact subdue growing in Chile, misidentified as Merlot for years.  It was in fact in the vineyards of Viña Carmen that Carménère was rediscovered and they just celebrated the 15th anniversary of that rediscovery this past fall.
This particular Carménère is also a wine that you can read about in my recent column about bargain-priced Chilean red wines in the January/February issue of Mutineer Magazine. Read more

Odfjell Armador Carménère

Odfjell Armador CarménèreThe tale of Odjfell Vineyards started about 25 years ago when Norwegian ship owner Dan Odfjell bought property in the Maipo Valley of Chile.  But, the planting of vineyards didn’t start until about 15 years ago.  They now have vineyards in a few different Chilean appellations.
In addition to wine production, they also breed Norwegian Fjord Ponies on the Odfjell property.  Hence the pony image on the mark.
This Carménère is labeled as being from “Central Valley” but if you look at the wine regions in Chile you’ll find that there is no Central Valley.  In fact, this wine is 50% from Maipo and 50% from Colchagua.  The term “Central Valley” is a generalization, rather than a specific wine province.  Because the grapes in this wine come from two different regions it must be categorized as Central Valley. Read more

Viña La Rosa La Capitana Carmenere

Viña La Rosa La Capitana CarmenereViña La Rosa is one of the oldest wineries in Chile, established in 1824 by don Francisco Ignacio Ossa y Mercado.  That’s a name and a half, if you question me.
I’m not going to get into a lot of background on this wine, but instead jump ahead to, “90 alert, 90 alert!!!”  As a website all ears on relatively inexpensive wine, we don’t come across a lot of wine that we score in the 90′s.  There’s a lot of excellent wine, some very excellent wine, but the exceptional wine is limited in this fee range.  And at $18, this is edging toward the high end of our fee range. I realize that it’s just a number, and some folks dislike intensely the 100 point system, but what I’m really saying here is “this is an awesome wine!”
And while the 2008 was exceptional, we also tasted a bottle of the 2006 that was flawed and undrinkable.  So, if you seek this wine out, be sure to check the vintage. Read more

Cono Sur Visión Carménère

Cono Sur Visión CarménèreWe’ve earlier reviewed a number of excellent wines from Cono Sur, and I’d even go so far as to say I’m a fan.  The breadth of the wines they produce is phenomenal and the quality of what we’ve tasted has been consistently excellent.
I reckon of them as an innovative and untried producer from Chile, willing to try new techniques in order to increase the quality and character of their wines.  They even produce some really unique styles of wine, like a Carmenere Rosé—which I haven’t tasted, but piques my curiosity.
The 2007 Cono Sur Visión Carménère continues the trend of excellent wine appearance from Cono Sur.  But this is one that I’d say is just “excellent” and not as excellent as some additional wines I’ve tried from them.
Something that is fascinating about this wine is the fact that they not only list the province on the mark, Colchagua Valley, but they also list the block within their vineyard, Peumo.  Not that this is an unheard of practice, but I don’t see this on many wines in this fee range.  Why does it matter?  If you really like this wine, there’s a excellent chance that you’ll find some consistency with wine from this block and can look for it in future vintages. Read more

Santa Carolina Carménère

Santa Carolina CarménèreLet’s check out another ten dollar Carménère today, this one from Santa Carolina.
Although the popularity of Chilean wines has only recently exploded in the US, Santa Carolina has been around since 1875.  Founded by Luis Pereyra Cotapos, it was named after his wife, Carolina Iñiguez Vicuña.  The roots of wine production at Santa Carolina come from French winemakers, led by enologist Germain Bachelet, recruited to establish the vineyards and production.  Their original cellar is subdue in use today and was declared a national tombstone in 1973.
One thing you may notice on a lot of Chilean wine is the word “reserva.”  It should be noted that while in some regions, “reserve” has a specific meaning (e.g. number of years in oak), in Chile it is just a marketing term with no consistent definition. Read more

Undurraga Terroir Hunter Syrah

Undurraga Terroir Hunter SyrahSo the bottle says T.H. and that stands for Terroir Hunter.  Sounds exciting doesn’t it? And it is.  This is the first wine I’ve had the opportunity to taste from the Limari province in Chile.  This is one of the northernmost wine regions in the country and generally has a dry, hot climate.  The grapes for this wine, but, were sourced from a vineyard in an area called Flor del Norte, which is a cool weather province as a result of winds from the Pacific ocean. Read more

Haras Character, Chilean Red Blend

Haras Character, Chilean Red BlendNothing goes better with wine than raising pure-bred horses.  Or wait, I thought it was cheese.  Yes, cheese goes fantastic with wine.  But industrialist Eduardo Matte has made a pairing of wine production and raising pure-bred horses at his estate, named Haras de Pirque.  The estate is named after Chile’s oldest pure-bred breeding stud.  And you’ll notice the horse and wine theme carried through on their mark. Read more

Veramonte Primus Red Blend

Veramonte Primus Red BlendI’ve long been a fan of colorless wines from Veramonte.  Both their Chardonnay and their Sauvignon Blanc have garnered fantastic ratings on this site.  I was less thrilled with their Cabernet Sauvignon, but I was glad to have the opportunity to try another red wine from Veramonte.  And this one is excellent!
Primus is a Bordeaux-style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Carmenere.  I’m certainly not the first one to proclaim this wine as excellent.  The past few vintages of Primus have gotten numerous accolades and it has consistently proven to be a fantastic wine at a decent fee (decent, although at the top end of the budget for us cheap wine folks.) Read more