Carmenère is vying to be a superstar varietal for Chile! However, when people think of Chilean wines, a big association is still made with Cabernet Sauvignon. And righteously so, as Cabernet now accounts for nearly a half of all the black varieties planted in Chile. Cab is used foremost in entry level red blends, and increasingly in top-notch single varietal wines. But Carmenère is special – a Bordeaux variety that was abandoned after phylloxera, it is hard to believe that this burgeoning grape varietal was originally said to be planted by accident when in the nineteenth century, some Carmenère vine cuttings were mistaken as Merlot and planted anyways. It was left that way until 1994 when these vines were finally identified as indeed, Carmenère. And they had been flourishing next to their Merlot counterparts. It was then that Carmenère vines became intentionally planted and grown commercially, however, officially, Merlot is still more widely planted than Carmenère.
Carmenère is still begging for Chile to adopt it wholeheartedly. Many people don’t have a love affair with this wine like they do with its neighbour, the ever sexy Malbec from Mendoza. Here at iYellow, we say that Malbec is ‘Malbec-a-licious’… But from time to time, we also like to ‘Throw Our Hands In The Air For Carmenère’ (wut wut )
Last month the Angels welcomed Caliterra Winery into the #WineCave and we were so happy to see a rich and robust Carménère from the Caliterra Tributo Series that was EXACTLY how Carménère from Chile should be – chalk full of ripe dark fruits and with some rich spicy notes that kept us begging for that second glass!
Many people don’t know that Caliterra Winery was founded 20 years ago as a joint venture with Robert Mondavi. They make wine mainly in the gorgeous Colchagua Valley which is 3 hours south of Santiago. As with the beautiful climate that surrounds them, they enjoy a fabulous growing season for Carménère!
Carménère is a late ripening varietal that benefits greatly from these warm sunny growing sites. If all of Chile embraces and harnesses the power of Carménère, it can continue to lend itself to a unique selling point in the market. In a wine market where ‘value for money’ wines dominate, single varietal wines of character can rise above.
Brand Ambassador Anna Norris, introduced us to the Caliterra two-tier portfolio, and it didn’t disappoint. With a Sauvignon Blanc ($10.95) and a Cabernet Sauvignon ($10.95) in the reserve series, these entry-level wines are performing well at the value price point.
Look for Caliterra wines in the Chile section and the Tributo Series in the VINTAGES section of your favourite LCBO store!