Chile, eventhough it has been making wine since the 1500’s, still holds surprises. One more recent surprise was that some of the Merlot grapes that they thought they were growing was actually the Bordeaux variety, Carmenere; a grape that was long forgotten in Bordeaux as it was too difficult to ripen. Carmenere and Merlot look very similar but ripen differently. In the past with these Merlot “blends”, you may have tasted a capsicum flavour in your wine. This came from the not quite yet ripe Carmenere grape. Now that the Carmenere grape was “discovered” in Chile, it is being separated out and harvested later, when it is fully ripe. One result of this is the bottle of (oops) Carmenere Merlot 2013 that I received to taste.
The Merlot grapes come from the Maipo Valley while the Carmenere comes from the Colchagua Valley. The wines are fermented separately then blended, with 2/3 of the blend aged with oak staves for 5 months. It is not clear to me, but I think the grapes come from the Undurraga winery and the wines are made by well-renowned wine maker Alvaro Espinoza, from Undurraga in the past, but now running Antiyal winery.
My Review of (oops) Carmenere Merlot 2013 ($14.95)
Solid deep ruby in colour from the core, almost to the rim. A medium intensity, youthful, pretty nose, with aromas of very ripe raspberries, plums, oak, sweet black fruit, and hints of roses, smoke, and dried herbs. As usual I tried the wine after 3 hrs of decanting and there was more of a smoky raspberry and ripe cassis and blueberry aroma. The wine is very round, soft, and silky in your mouth. Medium mouth feel. Flavours of ripe black fruit, raspberries, black cherries and vanilla, and toward the mid palate red cherries. I also picked up a hint of roses. The wine is smooth to the finish, then you get an increase in tannins and acidity, but not too much to be overly harsh. Some black currant leaf and red cherry fruit on the finish. Re-tasting after 3hrs, I picked up some minerality at the start, which went away, and picked up a bit of blueberry flavour. This wine was made for drinking now, but I think you could let it age for a year or two and still have a very enjoyable wine. Give this wine a try with some grilled meats or maybe an assorted plate of cheese.