Cost: Average price $14
Where buy now: Zipp’s Liquors, South Lyndale Liquors, Swirl My Wine, France 44, Apple Valley Liquor, Century Wines and Spirits, Tonka Bottle, The Wine Shop, Liquor Barrel Golden Valley, Richfield Liquor Store No. 1
Grapes: 90% Carmenere, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon
Region: Colchagua Valley, Chile
I waxed poetic about Famiglia Meschini’s Pinot Noir last week. Now, let’s get a little dirtier, wait, I mean “earthier” and drink some Carmenere. I first tried this wine at the now defunct Babalu Restaurant [now Bar La Grassa]. I really liked it. Since then, I haven’t been wowed by Carmenere. It always seemed to be too high in alcohol with harshly gritty spice. Would I ever find a good Carmenere for under $20 that didn’t taste of cheap vodka and mudpie?
The FM Carmenere hails from Colchagua Valley, about 500 ft above sea level, in the Central Valley. This valley is where most of the award winning Chilean wines are coming from. Vines grow in a mix of soil, sand and granite. The typical hot daylight temperatures are yielding full bodied reds such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Syrah and Carmenere.
I fell in love with this wine upon first sip. What makes this Carmenere stand out is the 10% Cabernet, which for my palate, balances the wine. It’s medium bodied with dark, smokey fruit flavors, followed by chocolate undertones and fresh cracked pepper- all of which scream “FALL WINE”! The tasting notes state the wine is aged in American oak that is 50% new and 50% used. The newer oak helps give wine that smoky, toasty flavor. If this is something you enjoy, start looking for labels that say “aged in new oak”. Clever.
I’m deeming this my Autumnal wine. (One cannot say that word enough, IMHO!) As the days continue to shorten and the cooler breezes start to invade, this wine will become your best friend. Grill up flank steak and make tacos- this Carmenere would pair beautifully. Then, keep that fire stoked- s’mores with dark chocolate would be sooo stupid good with this wine. Or, simply pour a big ol’ glass, snuggle up in a blanket with your dog/cat/child/”Rabbit” (ahem), and sip as you watch the leaves gently fall to the ground. You know how I’ll be spending my Autumnal (yes!) weekends.
If you’re interested in sampling this wine (and other Savvy faves), you’re in luck! I’ll be at Zipp’s Liquors on Sat., Sept. 15 from 4-7pm. C’mon down to say hello (and/or “Autumnal”), and meet their wine buyer, Jeff. This is a great, easy-going environment to sip, sample and hang. Should you want to buy a bottle or two (or nine), you’re in luck: Zipp’s will have special sale prices during the tasting!