Maule Valley, Chile
In the 19th century, merlot (aka carmenere), sauvignon blanc and cabernet sauvignon were among the first varietals European settlers planted in Chilean soil. Roughly 150 miles south of Santiago lies the Maule Valley, where red and white grapes enjoy a range of distinct microclimates featuring warm, dry summers, cool zones and winter rainfall. Soils are comprised of volcanic ash, slate, black stones, clay and sandy loam. Hand-harvested grapes for this wine were sourced from 1,160 acres of estate vineyards, and the carmenere came from Plot 7 of the San Rafael Estate. The wine is a blend of 95 percent carmenere, 2 percent petit verdot and 3 percent pais, a native grape. The fruit was warm-fermented in open stainless steel tanks for three weeks, and the wine aged for 18 months in 90 percent French oak and 10 percent American oak. In the glass, it offers aromas of black cherry, mocha, pepper and cedar with some herbal notes. On the palate, taste blackberry, plum, spice, earthy undertones, fine tannins and good acidity. Decant 20 minutes before serving. Drink it with rare steaks, game, lasagne and meaty dishes. Buy it at: Grande Krewe Fine Wine & Spirits and Bin 428.