Arboleda Carmenere 2002
Arboleda wines were born in 1999 as part of the shared dream that inspired Robert Mondavi and Eduardo Chadwick to realize the potential of Chile as a world class producer of fine wines. The name "Arboleda" in Spanish means "grove of trees" and is a tribute to the native Chilean trees that have been preserved within the vineyards that produce the Arboleda grapes. The source of the Arboleda grapes comes from two self contained estates within the valley. A stunning hillside property some 40kms inland was acquired and planted in 2000 with a selection of red grape varieties. This property was named "Las Vertientes" due to its natural springs of water. Arboleda red wines aim for complete ripeness, full bodied with high concentration of fruit, complexity and balance.
Arboleda white wines aim to be fresh, crispy with high acidity and intense aromatics. Therefore the vineyards were planted during 2005 in the proximity to the sea, only 14 kms from the Pacific Ocean in a property called "Chilhue", the place of sea gulls in native Mapuche indian language.
Long and narrow, with a continuous coastline and the Andes Mountains along its eastern border, Chile remains an exciting frontier for wines of all styles.
The country’s wine growing regions vary widely in climate and geography from north to south. Chile’s Coquimbo region in the far north contains the Elqui and Limari Valleys, where minimal rainfall and intense sunlight are offset by chilly breezes from the Humboldt Current. Historically this region focused solely on Pisco production, but today finds success with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
The Maipo, Rapel, Curicó and Maule Valleys produce a wide variety of red and white wines. Maipo in particular is known for Carmenère, Chile’s unofficial signature grape. In the up-and-coming southern regions of Bio Bio and Itata make excellent Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Dark, full-bodied and herbaceous with a spicy kick, Carménère found great success with its move to Chile in the mid-nineteenth century. Far from its birthplace of Bordeaux, Carménère once accompanied Malbec and Petit Verdot as a minor blending grape there. But the variety went a bit undercover, impressing wine lovers until 1994 when many plantings previously thought to be Merlot, were profiled as Carménère. Regardless of what vine variety it actually was, these have proven successful and plantings continue to increase.
In the Glass
Carménère can express a bit of herbaceous character or black pepper but in warm climates or with additional hangtime before harvest, it makes wines reminiscent of blackberry, blueberry and dark plum, with rich and savory notes of chocolate, coffee, smoke and soy sauce.
Carménère makes a great match for a hearty steak or barbecued red meat. It can also work well with white meat when prepared with a mole sauce or spice rub.
Perhaps Carménère’s herbal character can be explained in part by familial relations—due to the strange nature of grapevine breeding, Carménère is both a progeny and a great-grandchild of the similarly flavored Cabernet Franc.