Chile has an ideal climate for grapes with the Andes Mountains protecting the vineyards along with cooling ocean breezes and unique mesoclimates. Carmen Gran Reserva originates in the heart of Colchagua Valley, known for its red wines. It is Chile’s trendiest wine region.
While taking a break from a home flooring project, we relaxed with this bottle of Carmenère. While Carmenère is wildly popular in Chile, it is still relatively undiscovered in the United States. It has the complexity of Cabernet Sauvignon in structure, but the soft roundness of a Merlot.
In the glass this is an intense dark color. The Gran Reserva is aged for 10 months in oak barrels, and so the tannins were more up front than I expected. As the wine opened up, it mellowed into a silky texture.
It offers a delicious tapestry of flavors. Against a background of ripe red berries, there was mocha, graphite and later, fresh mushrooms. This is a wine to sip and savor, or pair with a special meal.
Carmen, Chile’s oldest winery, is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the rediscovery of Carmenère, a variety that has become the signature wine of Chile. Thought to be extinct, the treasured grape was rediscovered on November 24, 1994, in one of Carmen’s estate vineyards.
Carmen’s 2011 Gran Reserva Carmenère comes from the winery’s “Los Peñascos” vineyard, which means “the rocks,” a nod to the rocky soils where Carmenère thrives. It is cultivated and harvested entirely by hand in the Apalta Valley, a smaller, elite valley within Chile’s Colchagua Valley.
If you are looking for a holiday gift for a wine lover, let me humbly suggest this Gran Reserva Carmenère from Carmen. It packs an ensemble of unique flavors at a tasty price: under $20.
Full disclosure: We received this wine as a marketing sample.