jamie goode's wine blog

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Vina Casa Silva's 'microterroir' Carmenere

I've grown to really like Carmenere, that uniquely Chilean variety that began life in Bordeaux, but now is all but extinct except in its adopted country. Here's a really good one from Vina Casa Silva, whose microterroir project I have just written up.

Viña Casa Silva Microterroir de los Lingues Carmenère 2005 Colchagua, Chile
14.5% alcohol. Deep coloured and dense, this has a classic Carmenère nose of brooding, sweet red fruit pastille and blackberry fruit with a spicy, chalky dimension. The palate is concentrated, smooth and quite lush with an appealing, smooth grainy tannic structure. Like many serious Carmenères it is very ripe and full, but is far from jammy, with grainy, chalky, spicy notes keeping the fruit really well defined. There’s a hint of dark chocolate, too, but the emphasis here is really on the bold fruit. 92/100 (UK retail c. £25)

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Some Chilean reds that taste Chilean

Why is it Chilean reds taste so Chilean? I can almost always spot them a mile off in blind tastings. It's not that they're bad; it's just that they are recognizably Chilean. It's a combination of ripe blackcurranty fruit (seemingly independent of grape variety) with a sweet, pastille-like character and a hint of rubbery greenness under the sweetness.

Here are three I have open at the moment. Of all of them, the Anakena is least Chilean. The Cantavida Carmenere is less expensive, and works pretty well - I had a quick dig and found out that this is also made by Anakena! [Quick off-topic note: also trying another Chilean Viognier, the Casa Silva Lolol 2007, and it's brilliant. That's the second brilliant Chilean Viognier I've had of late. Is this going to be Chile's hot variety?]

Dona Dominga Andes Vineyard Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 Cochagua, Chile
Sweet blackcurrant pastille nose with some creamy notes. The palate shows pure, sweet blackcurrant fruit with a creamy edge and a hint of herbiness. A little rubbery on the finish. 85/100 (£9.99 Waitrose, Oddbins)

Anakena Ona Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Carmenere 2006 Rapel, Chile
Deep coloured and seductive, with sweet blackcurrant fruit as well as notes of cloves, tar and rubber. Smooth textured and quite pure with some spicy structure. A good effort. 88/100 (£9.99 Oddbins)

Cantavida Carmenere 2007 Rapel, Chile
Unoaked, this is a delicious example of the Carmenere grape variety - one that I'm keen on. It shows sweet blackcurrant fruit with a lovely gravelly, earthy, autumnal edge to it and some smooth but grainy tannins. This is the sort of easy drinking wine that Chile does really well, but there's also a hint of seriousness here. 87/100 (£6.99 Oddbins)

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Two Chileans: Carmenere and Climate Change

Two relatively inexpensive Chilean wines this evening. The first, a really attractive Carmenere, which is a variety that's beginning to show itself as one of Chile's best. When it ripens properly it makes lovely dark, smooth, textured reds with autumnal flavours and a subtly minerally crunch. The second is a Cabernet Carmenere with nice fruit, but whose most distinctive feature is its greenness (although we aren't talking here about 'greenness' as it is normally associated with Chilean wine). It comes with a neck tag that boasts 'CO2 emissions from the transportation of this wine have been offset'. You can read more about what Ventisquero, the producer, have been doing on this issue here. [On this website I found out that the cost of offsetting the flight for my recent Argentina trip is £25, which seems quite reasonable.]

Luis Felipe Edwards Carmenere 2006 Colchagua, Chile
A delicious, inexpensive example of how good Carmenere can be. Broad, richly textured, smooth dark fruits dominate, with a subtle minerally, spicy undercurrent that holds the interest. It's quite blackcurranty, but there's some darker, spicier depth to the fruit that I like. 86/100 (£5.99 Tesco)

Yali Winemaker's Selection Cabernet Carmenere 2006 Colchagua, Chile
With a neck-tag announcing that the CO2 emissions of this wine have been offset. There's a subtle rubbery edge to the nose, which otherwise displays bright, ripe berry fruit, with a hint of plumminess. The palate has a savoury edge to the ripe berryish fruit, with a sort of bittersweet character. Quite attractive in an easy-drinking style. 82/100 (£5.99 Majestic)

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Hello Dorking!

Just back from a 'gig' in Dorking tonight. It was a wine tasting I was hosting for St Paul's church as a favour to a friend, and it turned out to be a really enjoyable evening. I used a powerpoint presentation and got people tasting pretty soon in the evening; there were quite a few questions, which always helps keep things moving along. And the wines (below) showed pretty well.

Bizarrely, Mark and Ali Brookman, who were coordinating the evening, turned out to know my younger sister Hester pretty well. It's a small world...

The wines were (all from Majestic):

  • Lawson's Dry Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2007 Marlborough, New Zealand
  • Louis Latour Grand Ardèche Chardonnay 2005 Vin de Pays des Côteaux de l'Ardèche
  • Susana Balbo Crios Torrontes 2007 Argentina
  • Château Guiot 2006 Costières de Nîmes, France
  • Porcupine Ridge Syrah Viognier 2006 Western Cape, South Africa
  • Concha y Toro Winemaker's Lot Carmenère 'Puemo Lot 114' 2006 Colchagua Valley, Chile
  • Petit Verdot 'Par Preignes' 2005 Vin de Pays d'Oc, France
  • Catena Malbec 2006 Mendoza, Argentina

The star, for me, was the Winemaker's Lot Carmenere. I'm beginning to appreciate this variety, when it's ripe enough. This is a fabulously concentrated, intense wine, but the sweet never shows any sign of straying into soupiness. Instead, it develops this smooth, beguiling texture with an almost autumnal dark fruit quality, framed beautifully by a subtly chalky, minerally greenness that is subtle enough to be a positive feature. But the first place votes among the gathered crowd were spread pretty evenly across the wines, which I find strangely reassuring.

I got home quickly, despite being led on a strange, meandering route by the sat nav, which I'm still getting the hang of.

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