|Misiones de Rengo (Chile) Carmenère 2001
For the past decade, the top wine pundits have reckoned that Merlot would be Chile's ace in the pack; the grape that Chile could do as well as anywhere in the world and which would establish itself in the way that Sauvignon Blanc has in New Zealand, or Shiraz in Australia. It was a shock a few years ago when ampelographers (specialists in vine geneology and classification) discovered that a lot of the best Merlot vineyards were not planted with merlot at all, but an almost forgotten Bordeaux grape called Carmenère. Since then, more and more wines labeled Carmenère have been appearing, and I confess that I have yet to taste a bad one. This has a classy tobacco, spice and vanilla fudge nose, layered with dark chcoclate-coated berries. On the palate a deep, savoury profile of black fruit, tannin and juicy cherry acidity fills the mouth. There's not huge complexity in this inexpensive bottling, but its a fine example of Carmenère's capacity to make gorgeously smooth, characterful wine with plenty of grip.