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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Carménère, I toast you.

Don't worry. I'm not going to get all wine-snobby here. First of all, I'm not equipped and secondly, I'd like to think I'm not that pretentious.

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 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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8 chiming in:

Tracy said... I'll have to see if I can find this one. Thanks for the review - I'm always looking for new wines to try.

mary elizabeth said...

my dear friend. your talent for writing amazes me each time i read the blog. love the new segment on thumbs up and thumbs down. i will be looking for this wine immediately...the epi...not so sure but fun review to read!
i am your biggest fan!

Pamela Jeanne said...

Ah, yes, I remember graduating from my mid-west palate (piesporter and white zin) to the wonderful world of rich, red wines. I'm working my way around the the world (so to speak) trying various varieties. Will put this on the list. cheers!

Lori said...

Tracy -- let me know what you think, once you're able to drink again!

MaryBeth -- let's share a glass. It's always 5:00 somewhere.

Pamela Jeanne -- yet another thing we have in common!

Dottie said...

Thank you for sharing a glass of Carmenere with my this weekend. It was everything you said. I loved it. Can we do it again soon?

My name is Andy. said...

I'm always looking for a new wine to try. I'll add this to the list!!

Lori said...

Mom -- YES! All freaking weekend.

Andy -- let us know what you think of it.

Time4Mommy said...

You make me laugh. You are right, the only ones who drink White Zin are the ones who no no better ;) Love your post and I'll have to try this wine.

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