On occasion, we’ve been known to “slap the bag” or dabble in “two-buck Chuck”. If you know what we’re talking about, then you’re probably not much of a wine connoisseur either (or you know how to slum it now & again). Never fear, Carménère is here! With this word in your vernacular, you will be a hit at all future hoity-toity soirees! (If you’re already familiar with Carménère, you’re far cooler than us.)
We recently celebrated Jeff’s birthday with a trip to Colchagua Valley, a popular Chilean wine region. A visit to Chilean wine country is not unlike a visit to Napa: one hops from vineyard to vineyard getting one’s day-buzz on while commenting on how fun and easy it must be to run a vineyard. A visit to Chile, however, differs from wine-country frolicking anywhere else in one key aspect. Chile features Carménère – the only wine of its kind in the world.
Carménère wine originated in Europe hundreds of years ago, but was virtually wiped out by a pestilence of insects in the 1800’s. Years prior to this grape catastrophe, however, fortuitous settlers “borrowed” cuttings of unaffected vines and brought them to Chile. Oddly enough, several hundred years passed and Chilean Carménère fell into such obscurity that it was thought to be extinct, as in the rest of Europe, with its stalks consistently mistaken for Merlot. Luckily for wine lovers the world over, Carménère was ‘re-discovered’ in 1994 thanks to a nosy Frenchman and DNA testing. Today, Carménère wines are thriving. (In fact, in a recent presidential visit to Chile, the Obamas were treated to a bottle of Carménère from a local vineyard).
Now, our palettes are not sophisticated enough to describe the taste in wine-speak – – we just know we like it. Experts desribe the taste as ‘smoky’ with ‘spicy’ flavors. But don’t take their word for it, try some yourselves. After all, if you´ve read this entire blog entry, you deserve it.