Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Beauty of Carmenere - Casa Silva Cuvee Colchagua 2012

I'm becoming more and more a fan of Carmenere. Every bottle I open seems to up the ante on the amount of complexity that this grape can achieve, even at the everyday price points. Carmenere has a traveler's story of course having been brought to Chile from the vineyards of Bordeaux many moons ago. As it turns out, Carmenere was especially sensitive to Phylloxera when the vine louse destroyed much of the vines in Europe. Add to that the fact that Carmenere doesn't graft easily, so when European wines were grafted to the more Phylloxera resistant American rootstock, Carmenere lost favor with the Bordelais. Chilean vintners had taken Carmenere cuttings back home prior to that 19th century Phylloxera outbreak, so it was there that the grape found it's new, permanent home.

Given that history of the grape, it's no wonder that the family that owns Casa Silva has been around since 1892. Although they have been making wine since then, they only recently launched their own Casa Silva label in 1997. Carmenere is a grape that presents similar aroma and flavor profiles as Cabernet Sauvignon, which would explain why it was once important in Bordeaux. The entry level Carmenere from Casa Silva bears the "Cuvee Colchagua" designation and it cost me a mere $13.99. Like Cab Sauv, you're greeted with very earthy, herbaceous aromas that give way to dark berry fruit. There's a bit of alcoholic heat as well. In the mouth the blackberry and plummy fruit flavors take the lead and are supported by the earthy and mineral notes. It's really a wonderful wine for the price. Most bottles at this price point don't give you anywhere near this amount of complexity. This wine is produced from vineyards at 1,000 ft. of altitude and 50% spends 8 months in barrel prior to bottling. Only 5,000 cases were produced. Imported by South America specialist Vine Connections, this Carmenere is an everyday winner and will go beautifully with burgers or a grilled steak. Bottoms up!