The word ‘Chilean’ is pretty much redundant here. That’s because most of the Carmenere vines left in the world are in Chile, and I’d be very surprised to see any wines made elsewhere with this grape sat on our supermarkets’ shelves. Apparently, it was long mistaken for Merlot, until the advent of DNA testing. Which for me at least, conjures up images of a nervous family of grapes being gasped at by a studio audience as Jeremy Kyle reveals “You’re not actually a Merlot!”
I was surprised to realise how many wines I’ve reviewed here without talking about Chilean reds, which have long been a favourite of mine. A few years ago, I found they were often the best buys in the approx. £5 a bottle market. With taxes on wine where they are, I’m not sure that’s the case any more. The examples that used to be there are probably lounging in the £7-£10 range now, but I reckon that many of them are still offering better value for money than most of their competition in that bracket.
A Carmenere varietal* seemed like a sensible place to start. And Morrisons’ own brand offering didn’t disappoint.
There’s a definite scent of bramble fruit, accompanied by some toastiness. Morrisons don’t mention this bit in their marketing of this wine, perhaps because they don’t trust their customers to understand, which is a shame. That toastiness is undoubtedly derived from time spent in European oak barrels, and you get the sense that you’re about to drink something with class and sophistication.
And then you do. As well as the toastiness (some might even liken it to cedar wood), the oak has ‘smoothed’ the texture, or if you’re willing to accept the label’s term, it’s ‘silky’. Even though the oaking is overt enough to be unmissable, it’s restrained enough to let the fruit take centre stage, which offers variety in the form of dark cherries, plums and a little blackcurrant. I try not to gush over a wine’s fruitiness, but this wine’s really is delightful.
There’s more too. No, not reasons to shop at this supermarket, more to the flavour. Take your time over it, explore it, and you might even catch a note of the elusive chocolate referred to in this wine’s online marketing.
At £6.99, this wine is right at the bottom of the price range I was referring to, and it’s undeniably good value. If you’re still paying a fiver for your Chilean reds, you will not regret the £2 that you pay to upgrade to this.
*A wine made from a single grape variety (rather than a blend of varieties)