As wine connoisseurship evolves, I look toward developing ways to express the aspects of wine I love the most. I recognize that wine is a product of nature and science; my goal is as natural as can be: to help make the connection between joy of taste and the bountiful pleasures of life.”

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

dont punch me in the eye again man ...please.

driving through the central valley of Chile today at a steady clip ...i cannot ever recall driving for hours , falling asleep for 40 minutes and waking to an almost identical backdrop of mountains encircling 360degrees. honestly, I thought the atlas and the rockies were intense..the Andes...yeah ,..the joke people. Bigness in a really big way. A few things to consider.

the very recent science driven discovery in the summer of 1994 once and for all proclaimed the true genetic difference between the lost bordelaise varietal ( Carmenere) and the well known Merlot, since then, the wine world and the whole of Chile and its agricultural legions/ viticultural peeps have been working to better understand the varietal and its nature. From the perspective and ultimate response to (carmenere) as a single varietal wine in its bottled form the Chileans have come full circle. from both a qualatitaive and evlutionary standpoint, Carmenere for the longest time(again,..thought to be Merlot in most vineyards and bottled and sold as such ) was ravishingly green and showed both aromatic and palate characteristics not unlike its sister Bordeaux brethren but in a way that was just a bit more intense and recognizably green and vegetal.all it really took was a few wine critics to utter the word "green" yet some show, suddeny the just were in the minds of the masses. Ultimately so much that the masses torched it with faint praise and ultimately, not long after, dubbed it an inferior varietal like, say,…Pinotage. So, for the immediate years after the discovery and realization that the vineyards were actually planted to all Carmenere, or a mix of Carmenere and Merlot, the Chileans did what they could to find ways to diminish this “greeness” and stewed veggie like profile. In the end, regardless of efforts to circumvent the will of the grape, the critics and consumers found the wines made from Carmenere noteably offensive or minimally odd and polarized to the extent that the wines applicability as an everyday table wine was undermined and its reputation was a tad bit tarnished.

During this time of trials and tribulation with this so called "lost varietal" ( Carmenere), the wine growers here in Chile tried everything from relocating and replanting vineyards in different regions, to/in different soils, and a myriad of other efforts to find some way to make use of this grape vine that was so heavily cultivated. Initially, or I should say the first round of recognizable adjustment that was made to the whole of Carmenere country wide was one that could be characterized as over ripe, reductive, sun dried or just overly extracted with gobs of dark monochromatic brooding fruit.

Now, looking back over just a few short years, (and I should say today’s comparative tasting of top flight Carmenere made this more than clear) the disposition of the varietal and the generalized understanding about how to best manage it viticulturally and during vinification has come full circle. Whilst Carmenere remains a gob stopping, densely packed, fine grained, suave, fruit driven varietal, it is only in recent vintages,..say, the last 5 years or so that this varietal has been caressed and understood enough to produce wines that have real mid term maturation potential, secondary flavors, world class balance and flavor complexity. With great value at the top of the lsit of attributes, Carmenere is seriously, (and im not just saying this because im typing this in my hotel room in Chile) a new force to reckon with. so if you gots a few dollaz,..Get down on your knees people, do a couple rounds of down dog and take a breath cuzz there’s a new kid in town and the black eye has healed. Don’t be afraid,…he forgave you a long time ago. Now its your turn….

Some highly recommended Carmenere listed below:

Concha Y Toro – “Terrunyo”
Montes – “Purple Angel”
Ventisquero- “Grey”
La Rosa – “ La Capitana”
La Rosa – “ Don Reca”

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