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    2016 – An Excellent Vintage for Chilean Carmenere – Here are Three to Consider

    IMG_1531It’s always interesting to see how the same wines, from the same place and usually from the same winemaker, can change vintage to vintage.? This is one of the reasons we love wine, as you never know what is coming next, even from old favorites.? The 2016 Carmenere vintage in Chile, and specifically the Carmeneres from Concha y Toro make the point perfectly.

    We reviewed several wines made from this varietal and Concha y Toro’s 2015 vintage.? You can read about a couple of them by clicking here.? The main characteristic of the wines was the smoky oak, which tended to overshadow the fruit a bit.? They were still very good, if you like your oak on the heavy side.? We liked them overall, but wished the fruit was more front and center.

    Fast forward to 2016, and the currently released vintage of the same wines.? What happened differently?? We’re not sure, but we can say that in 2016 the fruit is front and center.? The wines are balanced, rich and focused, and maybe the best Carmenere vintage we’ve ever had from this producer.? These are seriously good.? Let’s take a closer look.

    2016 Concha y Toro Casillero Del Diablo Reserve Carmenere – made with fruit from the CentralIMG_1534 Valley, the Casillero del Diablo is generally about 85% Carmenere and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon.? It’s not huge, with an alcohol content under 14%.? Oak barrel aging lends complexity and rounds it out.? What did we think:

    This is dark red in color, with a nose of dark fruit , some savory notes and some oak.? The oak is nicely done, and subtle, letting the fruit shine through and take center stage.? It’s full bodied, just barely, with nice fruit through the mid-palate and a long finish.? This is a great wine for the price of $11.? This goes on our Value List.

    2016 Concha y Toro Gran Reserva Serie Ribeiras Carmenere – the fruit here comes from the PeumoIMG_1533 Vineyard, in the Cachapoal Valley, where the vines are on the riverbench and bordering benchland.? The influence of the river is dominant here, including in the soil.? After fermentation, followed by natural malolactic fermentation, the wine is aged for 13 months in a combination of French and American barrels, as well as 5000 liter casks.? The blend is 85% Carmenere and 15% Merlot.? Out thoughts:

    This is a dark red, with a nose of dark fruit and a little bit of savory.? On the palate the wine is a little shy of full bodied, and dominated by the fruit.? It stay’s rich through the mid-palate, with herbal notes (sage), oak and bramble.? The tannins are fairly mild, and it has good length.? This is a pleasing wine, and worth the $17, although it doesn’t quite pack the value of the other two wines reviewed here.

    2016 Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Carmenere –?The fruit here is also from the Peumo Vineyard, from the terraces and hills along the Cahapoal River.? These are pre-phylloxera vine stock, as Chile is one of the few places to have been spared the phylloxera scourge which devastated Europe’s wine industry in the 1800’s.? The vines are in rich, deep soil with a top layer of clay that helps retain moisture.? There is a large diurnal temperature range, so common in great wine areas.? This vintage is 87.5% Carmenere and 12.5% Cabernet Sauvignon.? It spent 16 months aging in French oak barrels.? Our impressions:

    This is red, very red and very dark in color.? The nose is all dark fruits, with some savory notes.? It is full IMG_1532bodied and luscious on the palate, and the fruit dominates the rich profile.? You get the savory and some oak nuances as well.? Really rich throughout.? Well balanced too, as the integrated tannins and refreshing acid make for a great wine.? This is top notch juice.? On the Value List it goes at a retail of about $25.? It also goes on the list of wines for consideration in our Top 25 of the Year, which will come out after Christmas.? Truly an exceptional wine at a great price.

    Carmenere is a great grape.? Once thought to be mediocre Merlot in Chile, the grape, when elevated, makes wonderful wines.? It blends well also.? These are all worth trying, but the Casillero del Diablo is a simply fantastic value, and the Marques de Casa Concha is simply a fantastic wine.? Try both.

    A votre santé!

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