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Errazuriz Max Reserva Carmenere 2011
Don Maximiano Errazuriz founded Viña Errazuriz in 1870 in the Aconcagua Valley, north of Santiago. This valley has cool, rainy winters, hot, dry summers and moist Pacific Ocean breezes--ideal for growing grapes. Don Maximiano sent for the finest clones from France and with tenacity and perseverance transformed this barren land into a world-class vineyard. Today, the tradition of quality lives on with Don Maximiano's descendant, Eduardo Chadwick--the fifth generation of his family to be involved in the wine business. Eduardo has overseen the modernization of the winemaking technology at this historic estate while maintaining a distinct identity for its wines, dedicated to producing estate grown wines of superior quality.
The Aconcagua River runs east from the charming costal town of Valparaiso and bisects the land creating the valley after which it was named. While alluvial soils predominate the Aconcagua Valey along its river throughout, its east-west flow creates drastically different conditions on each of its ends. Its western, seaside vineyards, with clay and stony soils upon gently rolling hills, produce cool-climate varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Its inner region is one of Chile’s hottest and produces some of its best red wines. Panquehue in the inner Aconcagua is the site of Chile’s first Syrah vines, planted in 1993.
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.