Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Apaltagua Reserva Carmenere 2008

The Carmenere is a varietal that is still unfamiliar to many wine drinkers, but it is catching on quickly.  I, like many of you, had not tasted the Carmenere until Cristobal Undurraga introduced me to it about 2 years ago.  This grape was originally from France and was actually 1 of 6 grapes that could be blended in Bordeaux wines.  Unfortunately, it was a late ripening grape and was not flourishing in the cold weather.  Since being planted in Chile, the varietal has really gained an audience in Chile.  Today, it is one of the most planted grapes.  Historically, it has been used as a blending grape but now it can stand on it's own.  The Apaltagua Reserva is a wonderful wine that is 100% carmenere which was harvested from 60+ year old vines in the Apalta Valley Estate.  This crimson colored wine starts off with aromas of a basket of black cherries and cassis along with some green herbs.  My wife compared it to a fir tree.  There was also a bit of smokiness and spices.  On the palate, the initial cherry and plum flavors are followed up by raspberries and then some spicy dark chocolate and a slight creaminess from the French oak back end.  This unfiltered Reserva was well structured with nice acidity and very smooth tannins with a long finish.  If you are not familiar with Carmenere, give it a try.  It might remind you of a cabernet franc.  For $10-$14/bottle, this might be the next big following.  We served it with a grilled (wood fired) flank steak with a smoked paprika chimichura sauce along with a side of grilled corn and tomato salad.  Paired well with both dishes.  I opened this bottle about 30-45 minutes before dinner was served.  Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar rated this 88 points.  This was a very enjoyable wine and it received two thumbs up at our house.  This was purchased at Wine Wise (see side bar for link).

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