(2019) Spicy, full-bodied and rich, there's also elegance to the tannins and acidity of this wine, perhaps due to the relative altitude of the vineyards in the Puente Alto sub-region of Maipo, which sit at almost 650 metres above sea level. Brimming with chocolate, spice and blackcurrant aromas, the palate is juicy and lively, the refreshing burst of acidity seeing to that. Price and stockist quoted at time of review is for the 2015 vintage.
(2018) Carmen was one of my first go-to Chilean producers, thanks largely to a wine called 'Grand Vidure', a real favourite of mine in the 1990s, and one of the first wave of Carmenere-based wines before the variety became established as Chile's 'signature' grape. Here we have Carignan, one of Chile's current superstar grapes thanks to old-vine plantings, this aged 12 months in French oak. There's an interesting melange of meat-stock cherry and vine fruit on the nose, a dark and savoury character. In the mouth it's very much about the fruit, quite sinewy and chewy, the oak well into the background, with a balanced savoury finish.
(2016) Maule fruit, 15 months in oak. 70% Syrah and 30% Carignan from dry farmed vineyards. Named after a volcano on the border with Bolivia, which has the highest lake in Chile that is home to colonies of flamingos. A touch closed, but a deep and meaty fruit richness comes through with swirling, and a full, dry extract weight of fruit, quite dry and grippy, but with delicious fruitcake and prune ripeness.
(2016) Quite a lifted nose, violetty and a touch sappy, with some olivey characters and a plush red fruit. Smooth tannins, long and creamy, with a smoothing creamy oak.
(2016) Lovely raspberry lift to this, a real sense of elegant freshness fom the first sniff, with little spice and tobacco touches, and some fudge notes, and still that fine red fruit freshness. The palate has that lovely nut husk hint of dryness, but such delightful wine.
(2015) We don't often see the great red grape of the Loire Valley and Right Bank Bordeaux appearing as a stand-alone variety on New World wines. In this instance it has been fashioned into a juicy, up-front and easy-drinking red, this has a lightly bubblegummy, fresh and cherry-infused nose, with a little grass and pepper quality. In the mouth there's enough tannin to give it some structure, plenty of cherry-bright fruit, and a nicely balanced finish. Highly gluggable, and great with burgers or a bowl of chilli.
(2015) Aitken Wines of Dundee (and on the web) currently have a good price on this Fairtrade Carmenere from Torres in Chile. There's a keen, almost Rhône-like note of pepper and schist at first, certainly a touch of greenness about this, but I like the lively cherry and blackberry fruit that comes through. In the mouth it has a richness and chocolaty weight, beefed up with its 14% alcohol, but it does retain good freshness, a keen edge from that herbal and cherry-skin character, with a nicely roughening rasp of tannin too.
(2011) Creamy texture and finish with good balancing tannin and acidity. Impressive.
(2010) In my report from Chile published earlier this year, I stated that I'd found the few Carignan wines around to be hugely impressive, so I was intrigued to see this in the Santa Carolina line-up. It comes from 80-year-old vines in Cauquenes in Maule, and has a beautiful nose, with a creaminess to the plush blueberry and damson fruit, an exotic lift of incense and a touch of violet. On the palate this has beautiful structure and elegance: it is a crisply-delineated wine, the fruit confident and focused, the tannin and acid balance juicy and taut, and the wine finishing with juicy depth but real elegance too.
(2010) Whisper it, but Chile's neighbours across the Andes need to know that they don't have it all their own way with their signature grape. There are some fine Chilean Malbecs about. This comes from Cachapoal and has a certain meatiness on the nose, with baked plum fruit and quite a solid character. The palate delivers a flood of sweet and spicy black fruit, the chewy, grainy tannins, acidity and plum-skin bite of the fruit making a robust and full-throttle impact, though not without a little light and shade. A warming, spicy and authentic wine.