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Rios de Chile Carmenere 2011

A friendly wine for the cookout.

Rios de Chile is a relatively recent entry into the United States marketplace and is a line up to start requesting and looking for at your local wine store. It was my fortune to have received a few bottles for tasting and in this case the fortune was good. Staring at the assortment of two Reserve wines, one Carmenere and one Cabernet Sauvignon, plus a Carmenere from their value price label I opted to start at the low price point and move up later. Thinking was that if it doesn’t turn out well I can always figure the higher priced wines will be an improvement. A good plan, but after tasting the 2011 Rios de Chile Carmenere I can’t wait to try the Carmenere Reserve bottling and see the difference, this is on tasty wine.

Made of 100% Carmenere grapes the wine pours an expected dark purple tinged with red in the glass with a nose of dark berries, purple plum and a hint of mushroom. Typical of the Carmenere grape the open is fruity but brief with solid mid palate and short finish, however, while short the finish has what I would call a persistent essence, not a mouthful of flavor, but a lingering on the taste buds. Unlike some low end Carmenere wine which can be simple and one-noted the 2011 Rios de Chile Carmenere is an interesting blend of fruits. Opening with a touch of blueberry followed by a core of blackberry closing with raisin and prune on the end, each flavor is distinct, but the winemaker has combined them into an interesting package. The gentle tannins make this a wine that you can sip and savor alone or match up with a meal to equal enthusiasm.

This wine would go well with stews or game meats and rustic vegetables or mushrooms; it might even replace the classic Pinot Noir suggestion for lamb dishes. No matter what the entrée I would suggest sticking with earthy and herbal flavors that will pull the dried fruit flavor and rounded tannins out of the wine into a very pleasant pairing. However, the same core of fruit and rounded finish made for a nice standalone wine in our household.

When you are able to find this one in the area or order it through your favorite wine store expect to pay a very reasonable $9 to $10 per bottle. Compared to some of overripe or muddled red blends lurking on the shelves now the simple, clean flavors of the Rios de Chile Carmenere will be a welcome addition to your wine rack.

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