Carmen Gran Reserva Carmenere 2016
Serve this wine with Filet Mignon, roasted ribs, roast duck, rabbit, lamb, ratatouille, kebabs, pasta dishes and cheeses such as Gruyere, Manchego, Parmesan and Cheddar.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Carmen’s value for money Carmenère comes from the middle part of Apalta and is aged in a combination of stainless steel and old wood to allow the fruit to express itself. Grassy and refined, with smooth tannins and some underlying minerality. 2019-24. Alcohol: 14%
Carmen, the oldest of the Chilean wine brands, was founded in 1850 by Christian Lanz, who named it in honor of his wife. The Claro family acquired the brand in 1985 and began the process of transforming it into a world-class winery. A new winery was completed in 1992, located in the foothills of the Andes Mountains, just one hour from Chile's capital city of Santiago. Today, the winery seamlessly blends state-of-the-art technology with traditional winemaking processes.
The Carmen team firmly believes in terroir and is continually reevaluating regions and plantings in a quest to produce super premium wines that can stand shoulder to shoulder with the world’s finest. Carmen's vineyards are located throughout Chile's prestigious Central Valley in the premium growing regions of Maipo, Casablanca, Apalta, Rapel and Maule.
Carmen takes pride in its pioneering history. Carmen was the first winery in Chile to cultivate grapes organically (released under the Nativa label) and the first winery to identify and cultivate Carmenère, a variety that originated in Bordeaux but is no longer largely cultivated in France.
One of South America’s most important wine-producing countries, Chile is a reliable source of both budget-friendly wines and premium bottlings. Spanish settlers, Juan Jufre and Diego Garcia de Cáceres, most likely brought Vitis vinifera (Europe’s wine producing vine species) to the Central Valley of Chile some time in the 1550s. But Chile’s modern wine industry is largely the result of heavy investment from the 1990s.
Long and narrow, Chile is geographically isolated, bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Andes Mountains to the east and the Atacama desert to the north. These natural borders allowed Chile to avoid the disastrous phylloxera infestation in the late 1800s and as a result, vines are often planted on their own rootstock rather than grafted (as is the case in much of the wine producing world).
Chile’s vineyards vary widely in climate and soil type from north to south. The 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. While historically focused solely on Pisco production, today this area finds success with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The Aconcagua region contains the eponymous Aconcagua Valley—hot and dry and home to full-bodied red wines made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot—as well as Casablanca Valley and San Antonio Valley, which focus on Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. The Central Valley is home to the Maipo, Rapel, Curicó and Maule Valleys, which 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.