Wine of the Week: Santa Carolina Reserva de Familia Carménère 2011

"Jump back, what's that sound, Here she comes, full blast and top down, hot shoe, burnin' down the avenue, model citizen zero discipline, Don't you know she's coming home with me?" ~ Van Halen

It's time for another wine of the week, and this one to be very excited about. Why do I say that? Two things really, soon as I popped the corked, sipped; slurped and burped I knew this wine would be an instant crowd pleaser. Second, are you kidding, for the low, low price of $17.99 per bottle, you can uncork some unapologetic hedonistic delight, am I right? This wine arrived on my doorstep, not so long ago, a sample, wholly unsolicited and straight from Chile. Man do I like those kinds of surprises. 

Right outta the box, was this hot-shoe was ready to wow you on every twist and turn in the road, it has curves and abundant sex-appeal, its only goal is seduction. Besides its abundant and apparent [from one look in the glass] hedonistic profile, this wine has some nicely polished tannins and fun verve of minerality to keep things interesting. 

Here comes the tasting note portion of this article [look out]. Those lyrics from Van Halen's 'Panama" perfectly sum up for me, what this wine is all about. Smokey and meaty aromas and flavors jump from the glass, ripe plum, and fig and dried underbrush. On the palate you’ll find giving, generous notes of vanilla, toast, a smoky edge, black pepper and ripe dark fruits blueberry, plum and dark cherry; great body and length, balanced acidity, which all fold nicely into the long and generous finish and no, not even a hint of flabbiness on its sleek exterior. 

Carmenère the grateful ex-pat grape which escaped from Bordeaux back in the days when evil Phylloxera was ravaging the French countryside, it found a safe home in Chile where it remains self-rooted in the sandy loam soils of D.OValle de Rapel, thumbing its nose at the bug.

Okay, okay you can still find a few plantings of Carmenère in France, and other wine growing regions, but you’ll soon find out that this grape seems to have found its best expression in the terroir of Chile. For many years, folks thought these vines were Merlot and labeled it as such, they later found out via DNA testing in the go-go nineties that it was actually Carmenère and I’d like to believe delightfully so. 

As far as any comparison between Chile and Argentina, I'd say the experiences are entirely different. If you look at just the two signature grapes from each country, Carmenere, and Malbec respectively, you can see how each of these European varietals somehow made themselves at home in foreign soils. 

With each varietal expressing their unique character and quality, which neither grape was able to achieve on their own as a single varietal in their country of origin. That said, one of the best ways to fully immerse yourself in a particular region is to do so with a small online importer/retailer who can ship to you or a local brick and mortar.

If you'd like to uncork an uber approachable wine, which requires little fuss or muss to be enjoyed than folks this wine is your ticket to ride. Until next time folks, remember as always to sip long and prosper cheers! The suggested retail price is $17.99. My score 90 tasty points!


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