Sam, our Wine Buff's pick of the month is a delicious, rich wine from Vina La Rosa.
Autumn is fast approaching; the nights are getting longer, the leaves are turning are brown and my chunky knit sweats have been rescued from their wardrobe banishment. It's at this time of year that my thoughts naturally start to turn away from the fresh zippy whites of summer to deeper, brooding red wines. For me, Autumn is all about Carmenere.
One of the six original red grapes of Bordeaux, the name Carmenere originates from the French "Carmin" meaning crimson referring, appropriately, to the brilliant crimson colour of the autumn foliage. It has however enjoyed a chequered past. More or less decimated in Europe by the Phylloxera epidemic of 1867, it was for many years thought extinct as vineyard owners generally chose to re-plant their vineyards with hardier varietals.
In Chile however, Carmenere survived, though not entirely by design. The first Camenere cuttings were imported by Chilean growers in the 19th Century and frequently confused with the similar looking Merlot.
Not until 1994 did researchers at Monpellier's school of Oenology re-discover Carmenere was in fact a distinct grape, with the Chilean Department of Agriculture officially recognising the fact in 1998. Today Carmenere, with its attractive deep red colour and distinct, spicy and earthy flavours has become something of a Chilean speciality and firm fixture in my wine rack.
La Capitana Barrel Reserve Carmenere is a truly delicious example of the enigmatic grape variety. Aged in oak, this imparts layers of toasty, smokey complexity to the rich plum fruit flavours. The finish is long and lingering with a delicious hint of green bell pepper. Pair with a Chili Con Carne for the ultimate in winter warmers!