Rating Chilean Carmenere

Carmenere is the James Bond of wine grapes.

It’s mysterious, with a past shrouded in conjecture. No one knows how best to handle or contain it. It’s often been on the ropes – but has proved a dogged survivor. It also goes under many pseudonyms, from Shelongzhu in China to Black Bordeaux in Italy.

But it’s in Chile that Carmenere has made its home from home. It was formally ‘re-discovered’ in Chile’s vineyards in the mid-1990s (before then it was blended into Merlot – hence the distinctive peppery character of ‘Chilean Merlot’). Since then, it’s gone from strength to strength and is now pretty well known.

But being well known – even being re-discovered to much fanfare – is no guarantee of quality in the glass. In this tasting we worked through nearly 130 wines. None was good enough to make the top grade (‘Outstanding’, or 98-100 points). But there were some very impressive wines, across a range of styles.

[Peter Richards MW tastes and rates Chilean Carmenere in Decanter magazine October 2017]

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