Although Carmenere has not caught on the way Malbec has in the last few years, it is still an interesting and noteworthy grape variety in my book. Synonymous with Chile (much as Malbec is synonymous with Argentina) Carmenere was actually an import from France. Although it has all but faded away in its homeland, Carmenere is very much alive in the wine regions of Chile.
At one time in Chile, Carmenere was incorrectly identified and bottled as Merlot, and it has only been in the last 25 years or so that these so-called “Merlot” vines were identified as this odd rascal of a grape. Carmenere produces wines with a distinct “green” spice quality, that if done poorly can result in an excessive tomato or green pepper quality that can be a little too stinky for most people’s liking. However, If treated with care and grown in the right location, Carmenere can produce a delightful little wine.
If you’re looking to get Carmenere crazy, the 2007 Estampa Reserva “Assemblage” is a good place to start. As the name suggests, this is indeed a blend of 60% Carmenere, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon and 18% Cabernet France. That distinct Carmenere spice shows through on the nose with hints of bell pepper and savoury spice. Accompanying this zesty spice are aromas of bright raspberry, licorice and dark chocolate. On the palate this is smooth like silk and that wild spice adds a pleasant kick that makes this an interesting drop.
For $20 this baby is worth every penny and is a great bet for game meats and hearty stews.