Saturday, July 11, 2009

Cobre, Carmenere & Tapas

Boo and I went out for dinner with Elzee to Cobre for yet another celebration of Boo's b-day. Unlike him though, we didn't bring a camera to document the evening. So, I think this might be the first bottle to be added to The List without a picture - of either the actual bottle or location/drinking buddies. We actually do have a picture that was taken on Boo's cell phone, but we never use it for that purpose and he doesn't know how to download it at all. Who knows, it could get added to this post somewhere down the line; however, for the meantime, I'll just settle for a download from the web.

95. 2006 Viu Manent Reserve Carmenere (DO Colchaugau Valley - Chile)

Cobre restaurant promotes itself as serving Nuevo Latino cuisine, featuring the flavours of Argentina, Cuba, Brazil and Mexico. They use the adjectives "passion, exuberance, sultriness and joy" to define the dishes and atmosphere. How could we orded anything but a South American wine?

When drinking Chile, why not take a gamble with the "national" grape, Carmenere. One of the original Bordeaux grapes, you rarely see it in a bordeaux wine anymore. When the phylloxera plague hit France in the 1860's, it appears to have hit the Carmenere vines particularly hard. The varietal was barely, if at all, replanted. In fact it is often referred to as having been thought of as extinct.

Turns out that, when noblemen of the 1800's attempted to set up vineyards in Chile along the lines of the Bordeaux estates, a good number of Carmenere rootstocks and vines were part of the package. For the next century, however, the grapes were thought to be Merlot due to similarities in appearance and profile. Seems that people knew there were subtle differences but the vines were grown and blended as Merlot.

It wasn't until the 1990's that studies showed that the vines were, indeed, the "lost" Bordeaux varietal. From that time, the vines have been identified in the vineyards and being grown with regard to the varietal's different requirements.

Viu Manent is one of the vineyards that benefitted from the re-discovery of Carmenere. The winery celebrated its 70th year in the wine business in 2005 and it has played an instrumental role in developing the wine industry and wine tourism in Chile - specifically the Colchaugua Valley.

Chile has clearly the largest Carmenere plantings in the world - and is seen as a source to reintroduce the varietal to its homeland in France and around the world. Although Viu Manent is described as being perhaps Chile's pre-eminent producer of Malbec, it is one of the producers that has grown to export Carmenere worldwide.

The grape is certainly seeing its popularity grow among wine drinkers as more producers are being introduced. Not exactly ubiquitous yet, our government stores list about two dozen bottles, either as straight varietals or blends featuring Carmenere as a central component. Currently, every one of the listings is from Chile.

It's a good thing that this blog isn't based on given tasting notes because I'm not so sure that I'd add much here to the fact that it tasted fine with our food. We'd had a few celebratory cocktails of the non-wine persuasion beforehand. We're always game for a little latin flare though.

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