Nostros, Reserva, Carmenere, Maipo Valley, Chile, 2015
Carmernere, though vastly declined in popularity in its original Bordeaux home, with just 20ha in 2008, remains a possible ingredient in AOC/AOP Bordeaux wines. It ripens late which is a potential problem in Bordeaux, whereas in Chile, where it was introduced (but mistakenly identified as merlot), along with cabernet sauvignon and merlot in the mid 1800s, the climate is more benevolent, warmer and drier, with a longer ripening period.
Chileans had themselves identified carmenere as different to newer merlot cuttings, and called it merlot chileno. Ampelographic studies in the mid-1990s proved this.
Chile has adopted carmenere as its own, and in 2016 plantings stood at more than 8,000ha (1). The harvest character [Wine Grapes, by Robinson et al] shows as:
- Before fully ripe – green pepper and herbaceous.
- Just ripe – red berries and black pepper.
- Fully ripe – black berry, blueberry, chocolate and coffee; but tends to lose acidity.
This wine: varietal carmenere, screw-cap closure, 13.5% abv, Ann et Vin, £8 (01/17)
Consumer tasting note: a black currant nose morphing into toasty, spicy red fruits, slightly floral, smoky, waxy and after some time dark chocolate; medium-full bodied, with ripe yet grippy tannins, smooth, with a palate of black berry, red berries and an oaky-herbaceous undertone. A medium-long length.
WSET style tasting note
Appearance: clear and bright, deep intensity ruby, showing tears
Nose: clean, medium (+) intensity, developing, with aromas as they come, of black currant, toast-edged red plum, touch of spice, red currant, black berry, peony, smoke, a bit waxy, dark chocolate.
Palate: dry, medium acidity, ripe medium (+) tannins, medium (+) alcohol, medium (+) body, medium intensity, a smooth texture, with flavours of black berry, ripe red cherry, red currant, red plum, a slightly woody-herbaceous undertone. A medium (+) length with a moderately grippy red berry finish.
Quality: good, well-balanced acidity and tannins with alcohol, decent intensity, showing some complexity from time in wood, and bottle, with a tertiary note of chocolate, decent concentration, following into a decent length.
Drinking readiness/ageing potential: drink now, unsuited to further ageing – the concentration and indicative length are not there.
- Carmenere: a uniquely Chilean wine [online] accessed 10/02/17.