Rios de Chile Carmenère

Rios de Chile Carmenères
Rios de Chile Carmenères

This blog post comes almost three months after my move to Napa and four weeks away from my trip to Philadelphia to take my Wine & Spirit Education Trust Level 3 Advanced Exam in Wine and Spirits. Truth be told, I am very nervous about this exam and I probably shouldn’t have tried to take on a new life, career, time zone, and advanced wine certification course at the same time. Every day I am thankful for the support and patience of my wine study partner, Uncorked Remarks, who has had to bear the brunt of this craziness since I arrived in California and committed myself to this home study version of the course.

Carmenère has experienced its own tumultuous ride and rebirth after being misidentified until two decades ago. Once it thrived in Bordeaux, France. However, after the phylloxera plague, it was not replanted there, but made its way to Chile and reappeared among Merlot vineyards. For a long time, it was thought that Carmenère was a Chilean version of Merlot until Jean-Michel Boursiquot, a French ampelographer (someone who identifies and classifies grapevines), helped discover Carmenère in Chile’s Maule Valley. Ninety-eight percent of all Carmènere is found in Chile and it is second in production only to Cabernet Sauvignon. (Reference: “The Accidental Wine” in Wine Enthusiast, March 2014 issue, pp. 34-39.)

When The Baddish Group contacted me about tasting some samples from Rios de Chile, I jumped on the opportunity to taste Carmenère for the first time and practice writing tasting notes according to WSET’s Systematic Approach to Tasting (SAT). I decided to taste the two differently produced Carmenères side by side.

2011 Rios de Chile Carmenère
2011 Rios de Chile Carmenère

2011 Rios de Chile Carmenère D.O. Central Valley, Chile
Appearance/Color (in natural daylight) – The wine is clear, with a deep ruby color and clingy sheeting on the glass that leaves behind a ruby coating.
Nose – The nose is clean and developing, with medium intense aromas of dried dark berries and spices.
Palate – The wine is dry and has medium plus alcohol, medium tannins, medium acidity, medium plus body, flavors of baked blackberry and black cherry, spices, and pepper, and a medium plus finish. Due to stainless steel production, this wine exhibits an intense and very pure expression of fruit.
Quality – The wine is good. It’s young and vibrant, so drink now, not suitable for further aging.
Price – MSRP of $9.95.

Other specifications:
100% Carmenère
Vertical Espalier Vintification
Alcohol 13.5%
Residual Sugar 2.3 g
Acidity 5.08 g/l
Aged in Stainless Steel
Natural Cork Closure

2009 Rios de Chile Reserva Carmenère
2009 Rios de Chile Reserva Carmenère

2009 Rios de Chile Reserva Carmenère, D.O. Cachapoal Valley, Chile
Appearance/Color (in natural daylight) – The wine is clear with a medium ruby color, but is starting to tend a bit towards garnet after a few years in the bottle, with sheeting on the glass, but less than the more youthful 2011.
Nose – The nose is clean and fully developed, with medium intense aromas of dark berries and fruit, mint, smoke, spices, and vanilla.
Palate – The wine is dry and has medium plus alcohol, medium plus tannins, medium acidity, medium plus body, flavors of dark berries and fruits, mint, spices, and vanilla, and a medium plus finish.  It presents itself as slightly more refined, complex, older sibling of the 2011.
Quality – The wine is good. I would drink now, not suitable for further aging.
Price – MSRP of $14.95.

Other specifications:
100% Carmenère
Vertical Espalier Vintification
Alcohol 14%
Residual Sugar 2.51 g
Acidity 4.99 g/l
Aged 8 Months in Oak Barrels
Natural Cork Closure

Both wines demonstrate how Carmenère can shine at a very good price-to-quality ratio. If you’ve never tried Carmenère, these two would be great examples with which to begin. To learn more about Rios de Chile wines, please visit them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.

Cheers!
Beth


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