Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Carmenère - This Is Love

Last night, by some oversight, my dear friend J. Cheever Loophole and I were invited to a wine tasting. In the course of this Bacchanal, I discovered a grape I had never come across before, and I was hopelessly smitten as soon as it passed my lips. Carmenère is the great 'lost wine' of Bordeaux, rediscovered by an amazed French viticulturalist in Chile, where it had been cheerfully growing, unidentified, since the early 19th century when Chileans had sailed over to Bordeaux and taken cuttings of whatever they found (and were allowed to take). As they were foraging in some of world's great vineyards, they got good stuff. Then Phylloxera wiped out the Carmenère, along with everything else, in France. In Chile it thrived, and by the 1980s the enterprising Chileans were flogging it as Merlot to the Americans (Merlot being the only red wine they'd heard of). Now the Chileans value it for itself - and even the French are deigning to replant it.
What's it like? Well, I'm no connoisseur, but it's a stunning mouthful, packed with the usual berry and spice stuff, but with sharp, intriguing savoury notes - like nothing I'd tasted before. The really good news is that you can get a decent bottle of this nectar, this elixir for barely £6. If it was French, it would be four times that - it is seriously good. Stock up. Santé!


  1. i'll certainly hunt that out, if i can find a good pie & war film to accompany it, that is.

  2. The perfect accompaniment, Elberry. By the way, the bottle I was 'tasting' was an Adobe Carmenere from the Colchuaga Valley.

  3. i found one last night at my local wine shop - not sure if it's the same as yours but it cost about £5.50 and is pretty good. i had half of it last night while watching 'American Gangster' and eating a pizza (nearest i could get to a war film & pie!). My guess is the remaining half will have come into its power by tonight, and i'll see where it takes me then.