Where in the world is Carmenère Santa Carolina? Answer gumshoes: Chile.
Wouldn’t you just hate the kid that got a dumb f’in question like that wrong? Cheers to 90’s education.
THE FACTS: Carmenère is thee flagship red varietal of Chile. Just like Malbec to Argentina, this is another squirrelly Bordeaux varietal that said F off to France and found a new home on the South side of the Americas.
Well, kinda. Long story short, the disease phylloxera rapes and pillages the world’s vineyards. The world is then forced to replant on phylloxera-restistant rootstock from America (fuck yeah!). Vines are replanted and the world’s vineyards are saved, including the ever so prestigious French Bordeaux vineyards (fuck yea!).
But what about Carmenère? Well, before all this disease business nobody really liked Carmenère anyway in Bordeaux because it ripened too late. So post-phylloxera nobody really replants/cares about it 🙁 .
So what’s its resilient immigrant ass do? …..Disguise itself as the likable Merlot and hitch a ride across the Atlantic of course. There, people are like “Merlot is tearing shit up over here!” (but in Spanish). It’s not until 1994, a full century later mind you, Carmenère comes out and says “I’m not Merlot at all, I’m Carmenère! Suckers!” Not only is it a great grape that turns into great wine, its also got jokes.
Jokes aside, Merlot is technically the more widely planted grape in Chile, but most wienetists (wine scientists) will tell you….Carmenère still messin’ with folks.
THE LOWDOWN: Black cherry and plum abound on the nose (sounds like Merlot right?), but with a distinct red pepper nuance. Down the palate we go and its got that classic medium-to-low Merlot type acidity with noticeable but chilled out tannin. Don’t be “fooled” though, there’s some big big fruit smack dab in the middle palate. Plus, you guessed it, a distinct red pepperiness especially on the finish.
THE SCORECARD (out of ten)
Color : Dark red