When I think about underrated or under appreciated grapes, Carmenere is one that usually comes to mind. And it is so unfortunate because the grape is amazing!! So any opportunity I have to taste or sample one, I’m all over it.
I had the esteemed pleasure of receiving a 2011 and a 2009 Reserva Carmenere from Rios de Chile. These years would allow me to do a comparative tasting of sorts. What type of difference did those 2 years make in the flavor?? Keep reading…
According to their website and label, Rios de Chile is about paying tribute to the major element in making their wines what they are: The Rivers. The waters from the river come from the melting snow of the Andes Mountains. This along with the Mediterranean climate will definitely have an effect on the grapes and the resulting wines.
Deep ruby color in the glass, aromas of baked cherries and strawberries. Hints of dried fruit ‘sweetness’ on the palate with some baking spices and pepper throughout. Med tannins, a bit rough but this wine is still fairly easy drinking. Pair this Carmenere with something high acid, like a tomato-based pasta sauce or pizza. Or since it’s around $10, you can just pair it with your glass and sip it as you watch television on a Thursday night.
2009 Carmenere Reserva
Color leans a little more purple with ruby undertones on this aged Carmenere. The 8 months aged in oak also lends to more complexity and depth of flavors. More aromas of dried dark fruit like blackberries and plums. Nice notes of vanilla and cigar box as well, probably due to the extra oak aging. I’m such a fan of smoke/tobacco/cigar box aromas and flavors in wine. This wine definitely has that! Therefore I think it needs a bit more as far as a pairing, I’m thinking barbecue, grilled foods, or wild game.
Final thoughts - I definitely lean a little more towards the 2009 Reserva due to the smoky and tobacco flavors. I also like the complexity of it and think it’d be a hit at picnics and barbecues this summers. I love taking something new or unexpected to share with friends, this surely fits the bill. And being priced at around $15 retail, yes I’ll have another!