Chile’s Santa Carolina has a history that dates back more than 130 years. Like many producers from Chile they have several tiers of wines priced from budget friendly to premium. Santa Carolina has vineyards planted throughout Chile and are amongst the producers leading the charge of innovation. Today I’ll take a look at two of their current releases of Carménère. The Santa Carolina 2009 Reserva Carménère was produced using fruit sourced at La Rinconada Vineyards in the Rapel Valley. This offering is 100% Carménère. Grapes were hand harvested. This wine is widely available and has a suggested retail price of $10.99.
Heady dark fruit aromas lead the nose of this 2009 Carménère. Earth and tree bark characteristics are present as well. Blackberry, plum, huckleberry and chicory flavors are at hand in droves throughout the palate which shows good density. Black pepper, sweet dark chocolate and hints of espresso bean are present on the finish which has reasonable length for the price-point. This is a very appealing Carménère that’s super juicy from the word go. This wine will have wide appeal and for less than $10 if you shop around it’s one you can pour for at a large gathering without breaking the budget.
The Santa Carolina 2008 Reserva de Familia Carménère was produced from fruit sourced at two vineyards; La Rinconada and Los Lingues, both located in the Rapel Valley. This wine is 100% varietal. All of the fruit was hand picked. This offering is available nationally and has a suggested retail price of $19.99.
Violet and plum aromas are joined by toast and vanilla on the nose of this 2008 Carménère. The palate of this wine has depth, complexity and precision. It features blackberry, raspberry and bramble as well as a host of spices; black pepper, cardamom and nutmeg. Smoked meats, chocolate, earth and bits of licorice emerge on the finish which has terrific length and persistence. From start to finish this wine is full bodied and muscular while at the same time maintaining tremendous balance and proportion. This is a really nice example of Carménère and for less than $20 you’re likely to impress a lot of your friends with it. Pour it for them blind. Even if they peg it as Carménère, they’ll never get the price-point, it drinks richer than it costs.