Odfjell Orzada Carmenere 2012
Odfjell’s quest is to make wines that are a true expression of the terroir. Their low-yield vineyards are handled with individual care. The grapes are hand-picked in order to ensure the fruit arrives at the winery as intact as possible.
Vineyards were first planted in the Maipo Estate in 1994. Today, after 20 years, 85 hectares are planted in Maipo. Including the vineyards in Cauquenes, Lontue, and Colchagua, Odfjell have a total surface area of 115 hectares being cultivated, planted with a wide array of grape varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Carmenere, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and old Carignan vines from Cauquenes.
Odfjell is committed to being a leader in progressive vineyard management, and they are dedicated to elevating the image and practice of viticulture in Chile. The goal of this work is to produce the best possible wines in the vineyards, while maintaining the long-term commitment to sustainable agriculture and environmental winemaking practices. For this reason, their vineyards are 100% organic and we they also recently begun biodynamic farming.
Maule is the Central Valley’s most southern and coolest zone, reaching a southern latitude of 35°S, yet it is still warmer and drier than Bío-Bío to its south. The Maule Valley enjoys success with a unique set of grapes.
It lays claim to the local variety, Pais (synonymous with Tinta Pais, which is actually Tempranillo), which has dominated much of the region’s area under vine until the recent past. Now many growers, not confined by the tradition and regulations of the Old World, also successfully grow Cabernet Sauvignon.
While Maule’s total area under vine remains relatively static, its old Carignan vineyards are undergoing a great revival. The VIGNO (Vignadores del Carignan Vintners) group, an association in charge of promoting this long-forgotten variety, is getting fantastic results from the old vines in its dry-farmed coastal zones.
The Maule includes the subregions of Talca, San Clemente, San Javier, Parral, Linares and Cauquenes.
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.