Carmenere, Chile, Great wines under $10, Red wine

Oops Carmenère 2008

Winemaker: Alvaro Espinozaand
Head winemaker Hernan Amenabar
Grape: 100% Carmenère
Region: Chile

As the family owned Viña Undurraga winery claims, there’s a good reason the Merlot of Chile doesn’t taste like other Merlot. It wasn’t long ago (in 1994) when viticulturist Jean-Michel Boursiquit discovered that parts of some vineyards, mistaken for Merlot, were in fact planted with Carmenère and Merlot.

Yes, the same noble grape variety, originally planted in the Médoc region of Bordeaux and used in Bordeaux blends for its deep structure and flavor. Therefore Carmenère is sometimes referred to as “Lost grape of Bordeaux”.

Carmenère root stock had been transplanted to Chile from France over a century ago and were soon forgotten. So it grew wildly with Merlot grapes and pretty soon, nobody noticed the difference. Oops!

I have to admit, when I was first approached by these wines made by Viña Undurraga, my prejudice sense immediately kicked in – oh boy, one of “those names” for wine! But as soon as I tasted them, the wine proved me wrong. I was invited to present Oops wines at the large town tasting, learned the story and got the opportunity to taste all of Oops wines side by side.

Considering its price – under $ 10.00 a bottle, the wines were spectacular! Even the “white Carmenère” that I expected to taste like White Zinfandel. Absolutely not the case! More like a pretty good, crisp and dry rose, to be precise. I felt easily in love with these wines and so did majority of people, visiting that tasting.

Viña Undurraga is one of the oldest wineries in Chile, farming on 1,800 hectares of estate grown vineyards. Today, the most innovated winery in all of Chile is producing consistent high quality of all their wines – Oops Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, 100% Carmenère and than two Carmenère blends: Cabernet Frank/Carmenère and Carmenère/Merlot.

All of them are rich, flavorful, unique and an excellent wines that will not brake the bank.

The grapes for this wine were gently crushed and destemmed, macerated for 15 days, then fermented in stainless steel tanks. After a cold pre-fermentation maceration for 5 days, and fermentation, the grapes were soaked again for 10 days to get a concentrated flavors. More than half of the wine was aged in American and French oak for 4 months.

Tasting notes:
Dark ruby, almost purple color and strong aroma of dark ripe fruit, dried plums with green pepper notes. The wine is a very typical Carmenère with pronounced peppery taste (that I like) – but some of you might be surprised with that unexpected flavor.

There is enough body and structure to this wine to pair it with steak or barbecue. This Carmenère gave me a lot of ripe fruit, maybe even some cacao, well balanced with acidity and soft tannins. Lovely long finish usually reserved for wines of much higher price. Oops Carmenère is an excellent value for every day drinking.

Also, if you enjoy white wines, you must try their Sauvignon Blanc. It taste differently than New Zealands Sauvignon Blancs, I would say more delicate. (Their 2008 vintage received 89 points from Wine Enthusiast and made it to Top 100 Best Buy of 2008). Very enjoyable and again, easy on the valet.

Dry – Off dry – Medium sweet – Sweet
Light – Medium – Full body
No oak – Aged in oak
Retail price: under $ 10.00

Ideal food pairing:
Flank steak with Shitakee mushrooms, Lamb burgers, stews, Homemade meatloaf, Beef Chorizo, spiced sausages, ribs etc.

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