While many may not be familiar with the Carménère grape variety, it has a wonderful history going back to the Medoc region of Bordeaux, France where it is a member of the Cabernet family of grapes. This grape variety is one of the original six grape varieties that are used in a red Bordeaux. Today, this grape variety is rarely found in France, but is thriving in Chile, South America and is one of the primary red grapes grown there. Carménère is known for its deep red color, with softer tannins than one would find from a Cabernet Sauvignon.
The 2010 Santa Rita 120 Carménère has aromas of plums, cherries, blackberries, vanilla, and spices. On the palate this wine has flavors of black plums, dark cherries, blackberries, smoke, tobacco, vanilla, and black pepper. This is a rich, medium-bodied wine, with soft tannins, and a great finish. I paired this Carménère with marinated leg of lamb, and they complimented one another wonderfully. For a wine priced between $6-7 a bottle, this is a nice wine.
I was recently preparing for a food and wine demonstration, and I picked up a bottle of the 2009 Root: 1 Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile to pair with an aged cheddar cheese from Ireland. I was not overly impressed with the Root:1 Cab, as it tasted like a cheap $3 bottle of wine. I have had the opportunity to sample previous vintages, but this vintage did not do anything for me at all. In the end, I paired the aged cheddar cheese with a very nice Rioja, and the two complimented one another very well.
Frontera is located in the heart of Chile’s Central Valley where the vineyards are protected by the four frontiers (Frontera in Spanish). To the north is the Atacama Desert, to the South are the Ice Fields, to the west is the Pacific Ocean, and to the East lies the Andes Mountain Range.
The 2010 Frontera Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend is an inexpensive, everyday drinking wine, which costs about $4 at your local store. There was nothing special about this wine, and not one that I would personally recommend. In my opinion it was barely quaffable.
The geography of Chile is ideal for grape growing, with the Pacific Ocean to the west, and the Andes Mountains to the east, which allows for near perfect conditions for the vines to thrive. With these ideal growing conditions, this ensures that the vines can grow on their original rootstock with no fears of Phylloxera invading the rootstocks. This helps to ensure that the true varietal characteristics remain in tact.
The 2008 Root: 1 Chardonnay has a wonderful golden color, and fresh aromas of canteloupe melon, green apples, pears, and honeysuckle. The flavor profile of this Chardonnay is of melon, apples, pears, citrus, with a slight hint of oak, and a nice butteriness that coats the mouth. This wine is well balanced and has good acidity.