Tuesday, April 11, 2006

A Chilean Treasure

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon an episode of The Thirsty Traveler on the Fine Living channel. I had never seen the show before, but being a fan of Iron Chef America, I was familiar with the host, Kevin Brauch. So I watched in fascination as Kevin took me on a tour of Chile and tasted some Chilean wines. It was a very interesting show, and I learned quite a bit. One of the standouts of that episode was the story of the Carmenere Grape. What a great story.

Carmenere was once a reverred wine grape grown in the Bordeaux region of France. In the late 1800's a blight ravaged Europe and the Carmenere Grape was lost to the world. Fast forward nearly 100 years. Chile has become well known for it's wine producing. It's climate is perfect for growing grapes, and they take great pride in their winemaking skills. In the mid 1990's winemakers distinguished several of the Chilean Merlots as having something unique about them and proceeded to investigate. Investigation of the merlot vineyards found vines of Carmenere planted amongst the merlot- unbeknownst to the vintners. While very similar, the Carmenere grape leaves have a slight pinkish tinge at the end of the leaves. Let the world rejoice! The carmenere grape has been found again!

So imagine the joy I had when I discovered a bottle of Carmenere on my grocers shelves last week! I immediately snagged a bottle, resisting the urge to grab more than one bottle...just in case. So while Andy's parents were here for the weekend, we had to give this one a try. Now I am far from a sommelier, but this was a darn good wine. It is on the dry side, and while it is similar to a merlot, it has a lingering spiciness that has you diving back into the glass for more. It has such depth...it is full-bodied and really, in simple terms, it is delicious. Full and fruity, I really can detect the notes of blackberry that set Carmenere apart from other wines. I suspect many a bottle of Carmenere making it's way into my wine cellar. I am eager to try other vineyards take on this lucious grape, but in the meantime, for less than $10 a bottle, this one is a bargain to boot.

I have really enjoyed all of the Chilean wines that I have managed to try out, and this one certainly won't be the last. In fact, I have half a mind to build a wine cellar around Chilean specialties. So I raise my glass today to the wonderful country of Chile and their beautiful vineyards.

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