It is such a pleasant surprise to find quite a range of Carménères in India. The best thing about these wines is that apart from being ripe, juicy and well-structured, they are not the most expensive wines around.The SI Tasting Panel – Kavita Faiella, Rovina Sabnani, Reva Singh, Rukn Luthra and Harshal Shah – looked at the five most widely available Carménères in India today.
The wines were all in good shape and showed that even after a few years in the bottle, they are able to retain some primary fruit – mostly red berries and plums. Ageing gives the wine a certain tobacco/leafy character that many of the panel found attractive. It is easy to understand why these wines were mistaken for Merlot in Chile and Cabernet Franc in Italy. The wines tasted were still somewhat fresh, with acidity complementing the wonderfully balanced alcohol. Carménère is a great accompaniment to slow-cooked
meats, mild meaty curries or simply enjoyed with pizza. It is also perfect sipped slowly as an aperitif on a cold night.
Wines in order of preference:
Montes Purple Angel 2004: An intense nose with oak spice, anise
and even a hint of smoky/toasty characters. Elegant, subtle flavours with prominent red fruits, a hint of capsicum and overall complex layers.Well-integrated oak with fine, chalky tannins. A long finish, we drank this wine, well into the evening after the tasting. Drink now to the next 5-8 years.
Importer: Sonarys Cobrands
Santa Rita Carménère 2007: Bright in appearance, this wine still had purple flecks in the robe. Some vegetable/ tomato-leaf notes with vanilla and dark chocolate, and a hint of cumin on the nose. Full-bodied, slightly jammy yet with fresh acidity and a creamy mouth-feel. A well-balanced wine with a medium-long finish. Drink now to the next 3-5 years.
Importer: Berkmann Wine Cellars
Errazuriz Carménère 2007: Slightly developed/baked red berries with some coffee-mocha notes and a vegetal character. Palate is fresher than the nose would
suggest with fresh red fruit, some chocolate and tomato-leaf flavours. Delicate/fine tannins with an oaky nuttiness. A good acid and fruit balance. Medium-long finish. Drink now.
Importer: Ace Beverages
Anakena Carménère 2007: Leafy/autumn notes on the nose with hints of leather and a very faint menthol character. Medium-intense palate with some developed
plums and cherries. Medium acidity and a medium finish. A wine drinking at its peak. Drink now.
Importer: High Spirits
Odfjell Vineyards ‘Armador’ Carménère 2005: A leafy, developed fruit aroma with some vegetal aromas of tomato-leaf and capsicum. A little closed but some suggestion of oak and brown spice. Sweet fruit on the palate with cranberries and raspberries and some astringency from the grape tannins. Alcohol is a little too prominent. Medium finish. Drink now.
Importer: Amfora Wine