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FORGET CARMENERE

September 15, 2014

The weather suggests that red wine time is coming and I have been looking for real values from anywhere that can turn my head. I have found one from a bit south, like Chile, and it is the real deal for a daily drinker that can age, and  a grape I rarely do in these missive. We are talking syrah, and while this grape make those heavily demanded northern Rhone reds, it also makes probably the most ignored red varietal in CA. I do not know why this is, but I have heard so many winemakers ask me, “How do you think we can sell more syrah?” yet I can only shrug. At one time, we had three shelves dedicated to California syrah, but today we are at one. I have no idea how to solve this connundrum.

 

But, I do have an idea as to how you can decide if you like syrah…try the 2009 Santa Rita Maipo Valley Reserva Syrah, a really delectable effort from a very old South American winery. This is the current vintage (5 years old!) and I think this bad boy can age another three to five years.

 

The aromas are invitingly dark fruited, and that lovely syrah spice shows up in the nose and mouth. Unlike many like priced Aussie syrahs, this wine has a French leaning personality with a refined fruit compote, backed with nice acidity, a creamy finish, and no gloppy-ness. Very good depth, a lovely concentration of flavors, gorgeous color, ample legs (it has 14% alcohol so legs it is), and some good press from The Wine Spectator:

 

“An elegant and complex red, offering rich and concentrated flavors of dark cherry, damson plum, raspberry and chocolate that show a creamy intensity. Presents pepper and allspice notes midpalate, with a finish of huckleberry and flan. Drink now through 2020. 2,800 cases made. 92 Points

 

The foods here are red meat, a hearty stew, gnocchi, sharp cheeses, and artisan breads. All in all, this red can stand up with almost any full-bodied meal. The price is $13 the bottle, or $140 the case plus tax all around. As an aside, if the Chileans would forget about carmenere, and make wines like this for this kind of money, they would be selling a lot more juice. Let me know. Thanks,

 

Rog

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