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"That Useful Wine Site"
The Carménère Grape

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About Carménère

(Synonyms: Bouton Blanc, Cabernelle, Carbouet, Carbonet, CarmÉNeyre, Carmenelle, Grande Vidure)


Carménère grapes Map showing Bordeaux Map showing Chile

Carménère is a red-wine grape originating in Bordeaux, but now grown almost exclusively in Chile (chiefly in the Colchagua Valley, Rapel Valley, and Maipo Province). It is generally considered one of the dozen and a half or so of world-class red-wine grapes (those in boldface in the varietals list to the left of the page).

In Bordeaux, Carménère was, and to a small extent still is, one of the minor blending grapes in the red-wine blends characteristic of that region. In the New World, it has achieved respect and is typically bottled as a monovarietal, or with only small admixtures of other reds. A key factor is that it needs a long, warm growing season to succeed: Bordeaux lacks that, but Chile does not. Chile "inherited" the varietal from French emigrés who brought cuttings over in the 19th century. For a long time, those were mistakenly thought to be Merlot, but genetic analysis corrected the error and led to the grape's resurgence as a premier varietal.

Its qualities are broadly similar to those of its Bordeaux "stablemates", Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. Its chief distinguishing characteristic is a smoky, dusty quality; its fruit tends to be "darker", and it is fairly light on tannins.

Tasters regularly report two broad styles, which might crudely be called "good" and "bad". The grape seems always to have a bit of green-pepper taste; the distinction is whether that is an accent (good) or dominates (bad). Even the same vintner can produce lines of both kinds in a given year.

Note: the original spelling of the grape and wine is Carménère, and we use that throughout; but more and more nowadays, it is being rendered without the accents as just "Carmenere".

Factoid: Carménère might be the Biturica, an valued grape in ancient Rome and the name by which what is now the city of Bordeaux was then known.

Some Descriptions of Carménère Wines

  • Wikipedia

    "Carménère wine has a deep red color and aromas found in red fruits, spices and berries. The tannins are gentler and softer than those in Cabernet Sauvignon and it is a medium body wine. . . [W]hen produced from grapes at optimal ripeness, [Carménère] imparts a cherry-like, fruity flavor with smoky, spicy and earthy notes and a deep crimson color. Its taste might also be reminiscent of dark chocolate, tobacco, and leather. The wine is best to drink while it is young."

  • Bill St. John, The mystery of carmenere, Chicago Tribune

    "Its flavor is excellent. The taste is even better than the two cabernets; the wine it produces reflects these qualities. It is mellow, yet full and rich in body. It mixes well with (the) cabernets, to which it adds a rounder flavor. It lasts about as long, and with age, improves toward perfection." [from Armand d'Armailhacq, a 19th-century proprietor and magistrate in Bordeaux's Medoc]

  • Chris Kern, Forgotten Grapes

    "Black currants, blackberries, pomegranate. The dark fruits hit you up front and then evolve into even darker flavors as the wine sits in your mouth: more semi-sweet chocolate (maybe even bordering on one of those 71% cacao bars you find in those chic-chic chocolate boutiques that have popped up in malls recently), tobacco, licorice root. The richness of Carmenere won't be denied, although there will be one notable thing missing from your mouthful – tannins. Tannins are virtually nonexistent in a Carmenere. As you swallow, you may get no aftertaste, or you may get a strong coffee flavor that will stay with you. That's the beauty of Carmenere: like a box of espresso-and-tobacco laced chocolates, you never know what you're going to get, but you're going to want to come back for more and more again and again."

  • Jason Wilson, The Washington Post

    "What I like about the best Carmenere is its distinctive pepper, spice and deep, dark fruit character, more plum than berry. When it's good, there's really nothing like it. The grape has been found to have very high concentrations of compounds called methoxypyrazines, which in some wines produce a strong herbaceous or green pepper aroma - even higher than, say, cabernet franc or cabernet sauvignon. At times, that can be a flaw: When Carmenere smells too much like musty bell pepper, it's out of balance. But when you get a hint of spicy green pepper on the nose, along with jammy or stewed-fruit notes, Carmenere can be delicious."

  • Dorothy J. Gaiter & John Breche, The Wall Stret Journal

    "Carmenere is a unique taste. It has not-so-easy-to-cozy-up-to tastes of black pepper and herbal green bell pepper that are quite unusual, and it has a very dark color and a medium body. We have written in the past that it might not be for everybody because it's slightly challenging. In our tasting, we found that, too often, winemakers had decided that the character of Carmenere might indeed be too challenging and, as a result, they clobbered their wine with wood. Too many of the wines were heavy with oaky, sweet-wood, vanilla tastes that obscured the essential character of the grape and left it a fairly generic red. Many, in fact, could easily have passed for forgettable, inexpensive Merlots. It's not that any of the wines were terrible, but simply that too many were boring and lead-footed. They were shrugging, why-bother wines. The best of the wines, however, showed what a shame this development is."

  • Jennifer Raezer, ApproachGuides

    "At its best, it delivers smooth full-bodied wines, packed with huge fruit and savory, spicy notes; flavors include herbs, bell pepper, smoke, coffee, blackcurrants, leather, and tobacco. Acidity levels are low and it is best consumed young. While there are certainly varietally-produced versions, carmenère-based wines often incorporate small amounts of other grape varieties — cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot — to provide structure and acidity."

  • Ted Loos, epicurious

    "Carmenere is a bit softer than Cabernet Sauvignon and a touch gamier than Merlot in the flavor department. Red fruit (raspberries, red currants, and the like) and spice are usually Carmenere's dominant notes, with a plush, mouth-filling feel when it's done right."

  • theKitchn

    "Wines are not as firmly tannic as Cabernet Sauvignon or as fleshy as Merlot – sitting somewhere in between in terms of structure. Flavors are typically spicy with an underlying savory soy and herbaceous note with dark plummy-blackberry fruit. "

  • Boston Magazine

    "But it's not entirely like merlot. Or cabernet. It's something in between. While carmenère has great depth of deep purple color, a jammy-fruity-berry aroma, and soft tannins—just like merlot—it also seems to have more complexity and earthiness, like cabernet. "

  • Tim Atkin, The Guardian

    "If you taste the wine and it combines high alcohol with notes of chocolate and green pepper, often with violets on the nose, plummy fruit and a deep colour, then you're in Carmenère country. Encouragingly, the best producers have toned down the new oak to emphasise the grape's unique flavours."

Some Carménères to Try

(About this list.)

Many, many Carménères are absurdly inexpensive; but you mustn't think that that in itself means they're plonk. The bargains here are simply amazing (in part because Carménère has yet to make much of a dent in the American market).

The quotations below are excerpts; we strenuously urge you to click on the green diamond symbol by each quoted review to see the full article.
  • Santa Rita "120" Carménère, $5 - $12.
         ($14.94 at Saratoga Wine Exchange).

    Some quotations and facts:

    "Peppery" is a word I sometimes see used to describe the taste of Carménère. For my palate, that kind of flavor in a red wine is a good thing. If you're not so sure, then the 2008 Santa Rita 120 Carménère may be a nice choice for introducing yourself to this varietal that originated in Europe but is now produced primarily in the Central Valley of Chile — or in this case a sub region known as the Rapel Valley. The Santa Rita 120 does indeed show some of that peppery personality, but as I was tasting it I got to thinking about a Concha y Toro Carménère I also got the chance to try recently. I found the Santa Rita to be much more subtle (though ultimately, not necessarily better) than the Concha y Toro. Still, this gentler approach of the Santa Rita 120 may be something that might appeal to someone wanting to try a Carménère but is a little concerned about all this talk about pepper.

    Central [Maipo] Valley. Rich and chocolaty nose, lots of ripe, creamy black fruit. The palate has a touch of earthy, gravelly quality but the sweet fruit pushes through, with low-ish acidity and a nice roughening edge of tannin. 86/100.

    The 120 Carmenere from Santa Rita is a marvolous example of the potential of this varietal and why I think Carmenere is Chile's best hope for classic wines. . . On the nose I get huge luscious black raspberry aromas, combined with pepper, eucalyptus, and espresso grind. It's a beautiful aroma profile and one distinctively unique to Chile but has all the seduction and fruit of a California Cabernet. On the palate the wine is just as big and delicious at the nose and boasts flavors of black raspberry, black cherry, espresso, chocolate, coco powder, and hints of pepper and dried herb. This is a spicy but voluptuous wine that has a long complex finish of black cherry, licorice, and coco. To be quite honest I'm completely blown away by this wine. It is the best wine under ten dollars that I have tasted in my wine career and it beats out many California and French wines that are triple the price. Amazing Stuff! - seek it out! 91 points

    This 2008 Carmenere is very dark and smells of smoky black fruits and mineral. The mouth is rich with deep black cherry, mild tannin and a mid pallet depth and texture that, for the money, is absolutely amazing. Gone are the under ripe green characteristics of old.

    A ruffled texture, bolstered with thick ripeness and the classic carmenere smell of black tea leaves and mulberries, with spice that comes from six months in French oak; here is a red to sit happily on the table next to a Lea & Perrins-heavy, crusty-topped cottage pie.

    When I opened my 2005 bottle of Santa Rita's 120 Carmenere (which regardless of vintage is a solid example of this varietal all around!) I had my trepidations. I had accidentally left the bottle in a hot car overnight, so I thought for sure it was a goner! But, my little “Carmenere that could” prevailed! When it was finally poured, this 2005 [opened in 2012] was phenomenal! From the deep purple hue (tinged with the rustic reddish-brown you would expect from aged wines) to the dark fruit aroma and slight earthy musk of its bouquet, it was magnificent from the moment I removed the cork! The medium body with soft, resolved tannins on the palate and appropriate acidity was indicative of the bottle-aging, the dark fruity flavors along with the earthiness indicated in the bouquet were fantastic and well balanced! This wine even finished like a well aged Merlot and was stern enough to stand on its own, though it would have been well paired with a decent steak or even dark chocolate and strawberries. All in all, very pleased all around with this wine! I don't know that I'd age it to the 7yr mark again as the alcohol content was a bit elevated, but a 5yr benchmark might be on the level with this fantastic Carmenere!

    On the initial first sip, "Wow!" Talk about a fruit-forward grape varietal. . . I changed my scoring after further review and consideration. Subsequent sips dictated a higher rating for the balance of this wine. It was a symphonious blossom of taste that occurred from the initial sip. The angels of grape danced happily upon my taste buds. A Balance rating of "3 - Nice" simply was too low. If you love a big bold red with lots of dark chocolate cherry taste, this one is for you my friend! No, it's not a value. Instead it's a steal of a deal!

    [E]ither grew out of this wine or this was an off vintage because I wasn't very satisfied with this wine. Simply put…it was soupy. The pepper and plum aromas were pleasant enough but the mouth feel lacked acidity. Made me think of Rachel Ray's "thicker than a soup but thinner than a stew" bit from 30 Minute Meals.

  • Francois Lurton Hacienda Araucano Reserva Carménère, $7 - $14.
         ($14.94 at Saratoga Wine Exchange). (Not all Araucano Carmenere is the "Reserva", and at times it's hard to tell which sort is being offered; take care.)

    Some quotations and facts:

    In the nose, we perceive a hint of apricots and leather, a hint of pepper. In the mouth, the attack is soft, with a round and pleasant middle. There are notes of leather and tobacco. The alcohol and the tannins are well balanced. The wine is delicately complex. I also have to add that, given its price, this wine is very good value for money. Another good thing is that the wine can be drunk now.

    Good wine: very dark ruby colour, blackberries on the nose, complex full body wine, dark cherries, plums, cedar, coffe and hint of vanilla on the palate. Rated 3.5/5

    Carmenere can be aggressively tough and weedy, but this fine version keeps that vegetal aspect in check with aromas of mint and a silky texture that makes the wine feel as if it's dancing across your palate. It's similar to some Virginia petit verdot, only lighter in body.

    Deep black red with crimson rims. Earthy, savoury aromas with a myriad of dried herbs and juicy, jammy red fruits with vanillin oak, blackberries, chocolate, earth, tar and herbs. Plenty of flavour and a long savoury finish. Lots of similarity to [another] wine, just a little deeper in colour and a little more chocolatey in flavour. Synthetic closure. 13% alc.

  • Cono Sur "Bicicleta" Carménère, 85% Carménère, $7 - $15.
         ($9.24 at Saratoga Wine Exchange). (Cono Sur makes several lines of Carménère; this is about the "Bicicleta" line.)

    Some quotations and facts:

    We took a sip and liked it. It was round and easy, with all sorts of ripe, black-fruit tastes. Very pleasant. But over the course of the next hour, as the wine got air and warmed, an amazing thing happened. It got tighter, far more herbal, with intense smells and tastes of black pepper and green bell pepper. . . To us, this simple bottle was a triumph: Even though inexpensive, it remained true to its varietal even as it provided a top layer of friendly fruit that anyone could like. It was a wine with serious character that novices could enjoy and experts could talk about. . . And here's an interesting postscript: While the wines we tasted, including our favorites, generally had seen quite a bit of oak, the Cono Sur never touched oak. It was just pure, ripe, marvelous fruit (including 10% Cabernet Sauvignon). Bravo!

    Intense flavours of plum, black fruit and spice add a depth to the spicy warmth of the curry; matching well with the lamb. The richness of the wine intensifies the heat and spicing in the dish so that the flavour level is taken up a notch. The juicy flavours carry through to the end, sparring with bursts of spice and carrying through the warm intense taste to linger on the palate.

    Very purple, deep inky colour in the glass. What hits you first smell wise is green peppers, this has a very earthy vegetable aroma. There is some fruit but mainly vegetable including onions, freshly dug potatoes and tomato. Tobacco and smoke are next coming out of the glass. It's a very heady mix! Taste is where the fruit kicks in and the vegetables take a back seat, blackberries and sour cherries, very smokey tobacco flavour and a touch of spice. Liquorice is also there although it still seems on the sweet side. Low in acidity and velvety. You either like this or hate it. I like it a lot, love the way it smells like a vegetable garden but tastes completely different. A wine that seems to be very food friendly as well. If you've not tried Carmenere before it's well worth a go!

    The wine is plump, round and easy to drink, with bright cherry, a slight peppery note and medium tannins.

    Finally, a red Bordeaux varietal wine from this producer that isn't ruined with excessive oak! It's there, to be sure, but it's in good proportion to the attractive blackberry and black currant fruit, gracing, rather than dominating or worse. Medium-full bodied, with clean, dark color, good structure for at least a few years in the cellar and good length. Nice earthy undertones add interest and appeal for this taster. An ever-so-subtle note of chocolate also make itself known, but never intrudes. Hand Picked 50%, Mechanical 50%; 20% in French oak barrels for 7 months, 7 months in stainless steel.

    Overall, the 2007 Cono Sur Cab / Carmenere was disappointing. This wine tasted very "green" to me. What I mean by tasting “green” is that the red grapes used to make this wine tasted as if they were picked and crushed way too early in the season. It also had a smoky tobacco taste that I didn't particularly care for, much like some South African red wines. Finally, this wine was rather boring to me. The blend offered my taste buds very little excitement. This red wine is not awful, but it just seemed as though the winemakers at Cono Sur were too eager to pick the grapes, get the wine made, and on the shelves.

    I heartily recommend this wine as a “nightly drinker” value wine. Great with dinners at home, or no particular special occasion. As a Carmenère it doesn't stand up to many of the samples I've tried, but it is certainly a reasonable representation of the grape. Lots of flavor, and stands up to spicy foods well. . . Good, but not great.

    Quite an oaky nose, but followed by ground red pepper and green leaves flavours. Powerful stuff.

  • Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Carménère, $7 - $15. (Have a care: Concha y Toro produces a range of lines; this is the "Casillero del Diablo" Carménère.)
         ($6.74 at Saratoga Wine Exchange).

    Some quotations and facts:

    Concha y Toro's Casillero del Diablo Carmenere, Rapel Valley Chile, 2012 is a value driven wine that shows off the true character of Carmenere. It is dark purple in the glass with nice ruby red on its edges. The aroma is filled with ripe cherries, black pepper and graphite. The palate is cherries, blackberries leather and earth. It has smooth silky tannins leading to a medium long finish. This wine calls for meat; either braised or grilled the Casillero del Diablo Carmenere will stand up. Value and quality meet here so enjoy.

    Deep inky purple in the glass with a crimson tint around the very edge this is not a lot to look at, but that color tells you this wine won't dance around the palate, instead settling squarely on your tongue. The aroma from the glass is predominantly blackberry with a little chocolate and the blackberry carries forward into a flavor profile of dark fruit and earth with a touch of green pepper toward the back end. A nice layering of tastes and the combination of oak and stainless steel aging provides a wine that is fresh and fruitful, but with the refined tannins and settled finish of a wine still developing its own character. On its own this was an enjoyable wine, however, one of the real thrills of drinking Carmenere is when it is paired up with a meal of beef.

    Color: Deep ruby-violet. Nose: Blueberries, black pepper, and violets. Taste: Dry. Smooth tannins. Sweet black fruit with mellow acidity. Long finish. Summary: This subtle Carmenere goes down easy. Not overly complex but everything else is nicely balanced and value ratio is always good on Casillero. 3/5

    On the nose, distinctive spices of black pepper and cloves compete for attention alongside a strong but pleasant earthen smell. Quick to follow are rich red fruits which play off fading wood notes. The first mouthful comes as quite a shock as it delivers a powerful punch. Smooth damson and blackberry play second fiddle to high tannins and a rich wooden taste but they combine well to form a solid texture which feels well balanced and smooth. I expected a small nod towards spice during the aftertaste but couldn't detect any with this particular bottle. . . I have had previous Carmeneres that play more towards the fruit and spice and are perfectly delicious however, this wine goes one step further and reveals a glimpse of the raw power that makes this Chilean grape so great.

    There was a little dark cherry and blueberry hidden under the aromas of tobacco and chocolate. The mouth was offering the same with a little spice leading to a dry, but peppery finish.

    This wine is perfect for the weather [drizzly and rainy and about 65 degrees]. It is full of dark fruits, spice, and a hint of chocolate flavors. It has a warm feeling. It is not too tannic and is easy sipping with or without food. I will purchase this wine again and enjoy it throughout fall and into winter.

    Popular agreement round my tasting table: this is the best buy of today's bunch. Very dark and intense, it even smells dark and deep. Very smooth and meaty/chocolate-y; peppery and surprisingly soft come the finish.

    [H]ighly pigmented like a Syrah with really big aromas of deep lush dark fruit with cigar box fragrances, elderberry and with breathing, chocolate and more dark fruit. In the mouth the wine has an initial front palate of nice spice with young tannins, and dark rich berries with fruit that hangs on and a smokey charcoal finish. A rich extracted wine from Chile and decent for the $10 tag.

  • MontGras Reserva Carménère, $8 - $18.
         ($13.64 at Saratoga Wine Exchange).

    Some quotations and facts:

    Montgras Reserva Carmenere is a deep, dense blood-red color with an opaque core going out into a fine crimson to slightly tinged rim definition with high viscosity. On the nose, the wine comes out with crushed black fruits with underlying spice elements, peppery crushed blackberries, black truffle, tobacco leaf, phenolic compounds, earthy minerals, licorice root, herbs, tar and light wood components. On the palate, there is an immediate huge mouth-feel with concentrated wild cherries, pepper-laced and spicy blackberries, huckleberries, bell peppers, massive phenol-laden structure, earthy minerals and oak references. The midpalate is highly impacted by the liqueurlike cherry and elderberry fruit with notes of sloe fruit, herbs and earthy minerals. Then the bombastic finish sets in, lasting for a full minute with yet more licorice root, star anise and wood. That is some delivery for a $10 bottle of wine!

    This is a great example of Carmenere: soft, smooth and silky, with plenty of body to stand up to a meal. In the glass the wine is a deep violet red, with nice aromas of spices and red fruit. On the palate it is well-rounded with black fruit flavors and rich and creamy tannins. The finish is long and smooth. There is just enough oak to give the wine a toasty accent. It really is a fun wine to just sit and sip.

    Color, deep purple with ruby edges. Smell, a hint of cherry mixed with mild spices. Taste, a pleasantly sweet (but not too sweet) start, with a smooth finish. It tastes like it has aged longer than it really has, and that's a good thing. The flavor is not overwhelming on the palate, but is consistently good from beginning to end.

    I enjoyed this wine, but didn't fall in love. The flavor is rich and smooth, and overall very tasty. The finish was ever-so-slightly sour. I thought it was generally well-balanced, but I came away feeling rather non-committal about it. I wavered between a three and a four through two glasses, and finally settled on a three. I'm not running to the store for more, but I wouldn't say no to another glass.

    [A]n intense ruby colour with hints of violet appearing towards the rim. On swirling, obvious alcoholic legs are revealed which indicate the 14% abv alcoholic content . . . Aromatically very (almost overpoweringly) earthy in nature at first, aromas of anise and damson do eventually break through the musty facade of this 2010 MontGras Carmenere Reserva. A hint of less ripe red fruit notes also assist. . . Dry and medium to full bodied in style . . .offers what are primarily fairly robust fruit notes in the mouth. Dark cherries, plums and damsons are all in evidence, along with a little anise spice too. A few slightly confected red fruit notes are also present alongside the chunky tannins . . . A juicy acidity freshens this [wine] as it swallowed, although [it] remains relatively simple and only moderately long.

    Forceful aroma – brambly, spicey, leathery. Full-flavoured and full-bodied on the palate. Plenty of flavour dominated by briary blackberries and a healthy smear of tannin to remind you this is Carmenere. Oaky notes and sweet new world fruit that masks a slight lack in complexity of flavour and a touch too much alcohol but it drinks very nicely, especially with food. Classily packaged, heavy weight tapered bottle. High alcohol at 14.5%.

    Nose/Aroma - Black fruit, pepper, and toasted oak. Little bit minty too. Palate/Flavors - Rhubarb and raspberries, white pepper. Pretty tart, but not overly bitter or astringent. Med finish of toasted oak and dried fruit. Style - Carmenere is Chile's bread and butter, with far more plantings than anywhere else in the world. . . Comments - Nice wine, showing well for how young it is. Definitely a buy and drink type of wine, though it's probably been released a bit early. Good flavors.

    [E]xpect the MontGras carmenère to have a nose of black fruit, but very fresh and bright as compared to that of cabernet sauvignon. On the palate, the wine will have plum and black fruit, licorice and vanilla. The tannins are soft, but still noticeable. Overall, I enjoyed this wine and it's very reasonably priced buy if you're looking to experiment a little with different varietals.

    There's welcoming grapeball and sweet berry aromas mixed with olive and tobacco. The feel is smooth and medium-deep, and the blackberry and plum flavors are just right. Barely herbal, with a long finish. Carmenère in its simple glory. 90 points.

  • Maquis Carménère, $16 - $21. (Maquis also makes a Lien" Carménère that is more expensive.)

    Some quotations and facts:

    [H]as intense aromas of smoke, oak, prune, dates, light notes of dark chocolate and earthiness. It is a full-bodied, extra-dry, fruity to integrated wine, with checked acidity, refined tannins (decant for 30 min) and a long, hot, chalky and smooth finish. Drink as a sipper; drink now – 2016. My impression: NICE, 89 pts.

    Unlike the richer style Cabernet that we tried polished off, this red just calmly and steadily thumped our taste buds from start to finish. Made with 100% estate grown Carmenère (also hand-picked), this red showcases brilliant sweet raspberry, chased by cinnamon and black pepper from the very first sip! 3 Stars out 4 for the 2009 Viña Maquis Carmenère. It's succulent and super cool.

    14% alc. Dry, dusty and earthy; blatantly spicy, earthy and mineral-laced; very intense and concentrated; the blackest and bluest of fruit, spiced and macerated, a little roasted and fleshy; lots of stones and bones, bastions of fine-grained tannins. Needs a bowl of chili to unleash its testosterone. Very Good+.

    This wine has a fairly compact and closed nose, with black fruit and spiced plum aromas that are common for the variety. This is compact, firm and hard on the tongue, with dark fruit and roasted meat flavors that are marked by some bitterness. The finish tastes and feels toasted and narrow. 86 points

    Spicy and supple, its dark-fruit aromas with a tinge of fresh herbs make it a wine that intrigues (and pleases).

    [L]ovely, smooth and full of juice! ***(*)

  • Odfjell Orzada Maipo Valley Carménère, $17 - $21.
         ($17.94 at Saratoga Wine Exchange).

    Some quotations and facts:

    The fruits are a rich blend of blackberry conserve, black plum jam, blueberry and black currant juice. The lush fruit is supported by well integrated smoke, vanilla extract, and dulce de leche notes from the oak aging. What's impressive about this wine is the complete ripeness of the grapes which allows the richness of carménère to come to the front while putting the herbal characters in the back. The finish is very long and cycles through the same black fruits, roasted red pepper, flint and fresh mint leaves. This is really great carménère! QE=4.5

    This wine has a great track record and the 2006 is staunch and ready to go, with shoe polish, licorice nib, sandalwood and spice aromas to go with big black-fruit scents. The palate is smooth and easy, with blackberry, fig, tobacco and herbal flavors. Cedary and woody late, with some mocha. Still flush and healthy more than four years removed from harvest. 91 points

    ♣ Wine Advocate (2009), 88 Points

    ♣ Wine Spectator (August 2008), 86)

    ♣ Wine Enthusiast (September 2008), 91

    Very fruity, spicy and smoky, tobacco, cedar wood, leather, cloves, bitter chocolate, black olives and some menthol. Good structure, juicy, quite old-fashioned type of carmenère.

    Lovely rich blackcurrant fruit nose with some spiciness. Nice freshness. The palate is smooth, concentrated and sweet with dense blackcurrant fruit. Rich but with nice definition. 90/100

    [R]icher more green character with a classic fresh black plums and stem. Good juice and softer tannins. Experimenting with picking early and picking later. Mix of oak treatment. Round and supple

    This wine has lots of red, juicy ripe fruit like cherries, raspberries and plum coupled with spice, tobacco and vanilla. A complex, powerful wine with smooth tannins that is sturdy and can stand up to strong, smoky barbecue flavors.

For a Splurge

"President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle, and Chilean President Sebastian Piñera and his wife Cecilia had dinner last night in the Presidential Palace in Santiago. They enjoyed Montes Purple Angel and Montes Late Harvest."

From $42 up to $80. "Purple Angel continues to press the case for high-end Chilean Carmenère," Wine Spectator, 5/1/2008, 91 points.

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