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Monday, 2 January 2012

Errazuriz Carménère Single Vineyard 2009, Chile

Long mistaken for Merlot, Carménère was only rediscovered in Chile in 1994. The vines for this Errazuriz Single Vineyard Carménère were planted in 1992, so the identity of the vines was not even correctly known when the vineyard was established.

I reviewed this wine back-to-back with two other reds from Errazuriz (see here for the Merlot and the Cabernet Sauvignon reviews) with some help from family and it was immediately picked out as the best of the three.

It is, as it happens, the most expensive of the three wines, but I didn't make a point of telling people the prices and I think what appealed was the superior, slightly inky texture that the other two wines do not have.

With the rediscovery of Carménère still only a relatively recent phenomenon, Chile is still somewhat finding its way with the grape and trying to establish what it should be like, but in simple terms I rather like to think of it as Merlot's older, more artsy brother, for whilst it shares Merlot's soft, plummy fruit, it also has a darker, more elusive edge of coffee, soy, dark chocolate and dark spice.

Purple in the glass, the nose is complex yet elusive with dark berry fruits, vanilla spice a touch of earthiness and hints of sour cherry and coffee grounds.

On the palate, there is sour-cherries-and-cream, ripe red plums, dark chocolate, tobacco, peppery spice, pencil shavings and a vanilla sweetness. The acidity is bright, juicy and rounded, whilst the texture feels densely inky, mouthfilling and smooth.

It feels perfumed and warming, whilst the finish shows aromas of plum fruit and more of the dark, spicy elements.

My only slight reservation is that, as with the two other wines, the tannins on the finish are slightly drying rather than grippy and there is a residual hint of hot alcohol - with the emphasis on ripe, cooked fruit and the high level of alcohol (14.5%), it feels more designed for the up-front American market than classical European palates.

With good tannins and acidity, it will match well with red meat dishes, such as roast beef or with spicy, well-flavoured sausages.

£15.25 from Stone, Vine & Sun, Harrods, Hicks & Don, Bacchus et Al, Matthew Clark; provided for review.

Links

Errazuriz- http://www.errazuriz.com/errazuriz/
Stone, Vine & Sun - http://www.stonevine.co.uk/
Harrods - www.harrods.com
Hicks & Don - http://www.hicksanddon.co.uk/
Bacchus et Al - http://www.bacchusetal.co.uk/
Matthew Clark - www.matthewclark.co.uk

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