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Quick Picks 10 – Santa Ema Rivalta 2003

by Tim Elliott on December 19, 2008

Vina Santa Ema Rivalta 2003I’m back in action on the 4th anniversary of my first podcast with a high-end Carmenere-led blend from Chile.

Vina Santa Ema, “Rivalta” 2003 – ($68/sample) Dark purple in color with aromas of black currant, plum, blueberry, fennel, mint and vanilla. Rich and concentrated dark currant and blackberry fruit with black pepper and dark chocolate finishing with firm tannins. A delicious Carmenere-led blend that will age at least 4-6 more years.

13.8% ABV
Natural cork closure
Rating: ★★★★☆

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WBW 52: Chilean Value Reds

by Tim Elliott on December 10, 2008

It’s time for another Wine Blogging Wednesday, our virtual tasting now in it’s 52nd edition. This month, Tim from Cheap Wine Ratings is hosting and has chosen the theme of Value Reds from Chile. I go way back with reds from Chile but have not really tasted many in the past few years. As luck or fate would have it, the folks from the Wines of Chile organization had just sent a half case of Carménère samples so I was all set. Of these wines, two really stood out… a very complex and interesting blend for $68 and a straight-up Carménère for $19. I’ll be reviewing the latter tonight.

Carménère has long been a favorite variety of mine and it’s not grown much outside of Chile. When you see it in Dry Creek Valley or Bordeaux, it’s almost always lost in Cabernet or Merlot-led blends. But in Chile, there are many examples of the grape on it’s own as is the case in my selection this evening.

One of the six permitted red varieties in Bordeaux, it’s not much planted there anymore due to it’s low production and late ripening. But in the 18th and 19th Century, Carménère was highly prized in this region of France and was exported to Chile before Phylloxera claimed most the vines in it’s home country. But the root louse never made it to Chile, in large part due the the barrier of the Andes Mountains. Until 1994 DNA typing, most Chilean Carménère was thought to be Merlot and many low-end Merlot from Chile today still have the tell-tale “gun metal” aromas of Carménère in the blend.

Tasting Notes:

Vina Casa Silva, “Los Lingues”, Carménère, Gran Reserva, Colchagua Valley 2006 ($19/sample) – Very dark purple-black in color with aromas of black currant, raspberry, licorice, gun metal and vanilla. Focused and concentrated black raspberry and blueberry fruit flavors with cocoa, mint and bell pepper finishing with moderate tannins. A well balanced, delicious Carménère that will age and is also an excellent value.

14.5% ABV
Natural cork closure
Rating: ★★★★☆

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Thanks to Tim from Cheap Wine Ratings for hosting this month and I’m already looking forward to January when we are picking wines for breakfast… for real. I’m thinking another value red here but most likely from California; or something with bubbles.

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Maniña Vineyards, Carmenere 2004

by Tim Elliott on November 4, 2006

So this one is more what I had in mind when I started looking for a house red. Put it in a decanter and many tasters will think this wine is 3 or 4 times more expensive than it is. This is probably because Carmenere is not as well known as Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. It could also be that the cost of production in Chile is quite a bit less than in most other fine winemaking regions. Whatever the reason, go to your local Trader Joe’s and check out this smokin’ value.

Maniña Vineyards, Carmenere, Maipo Valey, Chile 2004 ($6) – Dark purple in color with aromas of black currant, spice and vanilla. Soft blackberry, black pepper and gun-metal flavors with moderate tannins. A very smooth and satisfying Carmenere that might just become my new house red.

13.5% ABV
Natural cork closure
Score: 86

Luis Felipe Edwards, Carmenere 2003

by Tim Elliott on October 29, 2005

Luis Felipe Edwards, Carmenere, Colchagua, Chile 2003 ($8) – Garnet color with dark fruit and characteristic metallic aromas; blackberry, black pepper and gunmetal flavors with moderate tannins. Very good and a fine value. Score: 8.5/10