I might be temporarily abstaining from wine on school nights (due to lent) but that doesn’t mean that I can’t continue to talk about the wines that I have already tasted. This wine, like the Passion Has Red Lips, also falls into the Tip O’Neil Corollary territory and I was lucky enough to get to taste it when the rep came into the store.
The Chono wines are associated with a wine I discussed a while ago… say, in the Fall of 2008, the Palin Syrah, which are both distributed by GeoWines. I always like Chilean Carménère because it reminds me of my wine history. Carménère is the lost grape of Bordeaux where it was used to enhance the flavors of the other noble grapes of the region, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petite Verdot and Merlot. After Phylloxera destroyed most of the vineyards in the region, it was believed that Carménère was all but wiped out. In 1994, an oenologist discovered that a variety of Merlot in Chile that tended to ripen faster was in fact the long, lost grape. They were interplanted with Merlot which they resemble and accounted for a large percentage of the grapes produced. It turns out that Chilean winemaking owed more to France than Spain as one might have expected.
I have also learned that there were so many Carménère grapes produced that they were often used in the production of Pisco and Aguardiente.
The Carménère is produced in the Maipo River Valley of Chile which is in the heart of the most productive vineyards in the country and relatively close to Santiago. The grapes are picked in the second week of May are macerated in stainless steel and then partially aged in oak. My first sip gave me a smokey taste of dark fruit. The second sip after a few minutes allowed the wine to open up and become smoother and fuller with more of an emphasis on black cherries and less on the smoke. Clearly, a wine to let breathe a moment or two.