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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Terra Andina Carménère 2007

Terra Andina CarménèreBordeaux may have lost Carménère to the Phylloxera blight of the mid-19th century, but not to worry — Chile has plenty. By happy coincidence, Chilean growers had brought in root stock from France 20 years before the pest accidentally imported from North America decimated the vineyards of Europe, and the grapes of Bordeaux thrived in their new, warmer, home. (Phylloxera, thankfully, hasn’t made the trip across the equator.)

Malbec flourished in Argentina , where it has become that country’s signature grape. Similarly, Carménère has become the grape most closely identified with Chile, although that is a quite recent development. It wasn’t until the mid-1990s that Jean-Michel Boursiquot , a French ampelographer (a botanist who specializes in grape identification), determined that the grape the Chileans had brought over 150 years earlier wasn’t Merlot, as they had thought, but Carménère, the ancient grape of Bordeaux. Following Boursiquot’s discovery, Chile officially recognized the grape as a distinct variety in 1998, and it is now grown primarily in the Rapel and Maipo Valleys.

Terra Andina gives its Carménère’s domain of origin as the larger Valle Central region, which encompasses the subregions of Rapel, Maipo, Curicó and Maule Valleys. It is quite purple in color, with vivid aromas of dark berries on the nose. The wine is medium- to full-bodied, and it tastes as though someone figured out a way to cross plums and blueberries. It’s delicious, easy to drink, and at under $9 (I paid $6.99) quite affordable. The ’07 vintage comes bottled both with corks and screwcaps — pick up a few cases of the screwcaps and you’ll have a stock of easy-to-serve, crowd-pleasing party wine that your guests will rave about!
J. Silverheels Gray, 8:52 AM

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