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Simon’s Wine of the Week - Irene Morales Carmenere / Cabernet Sauvignon

Good morning one and all, Simon’s Wine of the Week is Irene Morales Carmenere / Cabernet Sauvignon This week we travel to Chile for our Wine of the Week. It’s a country that has a bit of an image problem when it comes to wine; it is seen as cheap. And yes, it’s true, Chilean wine does make up a large bulk of the branded wines filling up the lower levels of the supermarket shelves. But, if you cast your eyes upwards to the more expensive shelves, then you can find some real gems at not too crazy prices. This week’s WOTW is a blend of two grapes; Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet Sauvignon needs no introduction, it’s probably the most famous of all black grape varieties and happens to be the most planted grape in the world. Carmenere on the other hand is a lot lesser known, and for Chile has a more interesting story. Carmenere was originally one of Bordeaux’s red grape varieties, where it was usually used to add colour to the blend. In 1867 the vineyards of Europe were nearly wiped out by Phylloxera Vastatrix (literally, The Destroyer), an insect accidently imported from North American that devastated vine growing, and Carmenere was wiped out. Or so it seemed… Cut to the mid-nineties and the Chilean wine scene is in full swing with Merlot one of the most important grapes. Except almost half of it didn’t taste quite like Merlot ought to so it was thought to be a special clone unique to Chile. Then in 1994 a French ampelographist (a big word for somebody who studies grapes) realised that it wasn’t Merlot at all, and it was actually Carmenere. Fast forward a few years and Carmenere is undergoing a renaissance. As a grape variety it is to Chile as Malbec is to Argentina, making unique wines with deep colour, typically with aromas and flavours of dark fruit, green bell pepper, tobacco and chocolate. The Irene Morales Carmenere Cabernet Sauvignon is a brooding beast of a wine. Almost opaque in the glass it has aromas of blackberry, blackcurrant, dark cherry, cinnamon and almost dusty scents like a wind-swept desert. The palate is big and bold but really juicy as well, so it never overpowers. Really intense dark fruit again with more berry and cherry notes, more sweet spice and a swirl of dark chocolate. This is a wine that is perfect with a roast, particularly with lamb with mint sauce. It’s also great with tomato-based pastas, highly spiced dishes, or good barbecue fare. Have a great week, Simon
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