In the early 1990s, I dated a handsome and worldly New Zealander. (Is it OK to use the word "dated," Iain? -- you were so averse at the time to be committed in any way.)
Ours was a relationship of fun and laughter. Even today -- significant others and 4 children later -- we can banter like old times. He never lets me forget my early-in-the-relationship faux pas...
...when I ordered a White Zinfandel. He looked SO horrified that it was also the LAST time I ordered White Zinfandel. I didn't know it was made of a waste-byproduct. I didn't know it was the wine equivalent of Pabst Blue Ribbon. I just liked it because it was pretty and somewhat sweet -- I hated the vinegary taste that most wines produced in my young mouth.
I had never been much of a wine drinker. I attended some wine tastings and learned I liked some of the sweeter white wines like Johannesburg-Rieslings and Gewurtztraminers.
Sometime in the past two years my palate has matured. I began to seek out red wines. I surprised myself by seeking out bold and hearty reds, not demure and flowery ones.
Enter my new fave: Carménère. Carmenere was a grape grown in the Bordeaux region of France, related to the Cabernet. It was wiped out by a plague a century-and-a-half ago. But the vines were preserved and imported into Chile. Protected by the Andes Mountains, the Pacific Ocean and the Atacama Desert, the grape thrives because the plague has been thwarted.
Concha y Toro makes two very affordable Carménères under its Frontera brand and Casillero del Diablo brand. Both are often available at my Cost.co Liquors, making them even more affordable.
It's the only wine I've ever bought by the case.
Carménère is beautiful to look at. Purplish-red in jewel-tones, and not wimpy at all. I could go on with my nose in the air about the legs it has and its bouquet, but instead I'll just say that it has layers and complexity in my mouth. I like how it speaks to me for a few moments after the initial sip.
I cannot think of any downside to this wine. Except that in writing about it, I've made myself thirsty. I'm sure you'll excuse me.
Two thumbs up.
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