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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Wine Review: Ventisquero "Grey" Glacier 2013 Carménère

Ventisquero "Grey" Trinidad Vineyard 2013 Carménere

Hey look! It says Glacier on the label! Massachusetts is temporarily a big piece of glacier at the time that this review is being written! Lots of snow and ice! Hurray! I hate the cold. Fuck off, cold. Die.

Drinking Carménère is like drinking an extinct grape. It was a blender in the French region of Bordeaux until that a-hole louse phylloxera killed it in the 1800's. It really wasn't much of a loss, honestly, and probably went extinct because it wasn't attempted to be protected. Nobody was really heartbroken with its passing because it was just a minor blender and really didn't have much to offer the blend. In fact, it was tempermental and actually more of a burden. It was the Meg Griffin of Bordeaux.

For years Chile's Merlot just tasted different and everybody assumed that this was just what Merlot from Chile tastes like. Ya know, terroir and whatever. Then in the 1990's everything was suddenly being recorded by its DNA. From The Shroud of Turin, to OJ Simpson, to the Merlot grapes in Chile. Hey, wait... well goshdarnit... that's not Merlot! That's Carménère risen from the dead! Put me in flippers and call me a duck! It's a zombie grape!

Meg from Family Guy
Chile adopted Carménère as their own, much like Argentina has done with Malbec. But it hasn't been as successful of an adoption. Some wineries still label their Carménère as Merlot so they can sell it (but the vast majority of Merlot is actually Merlot). You see, when done right Carménère can be outstanding but it's not done right often enough. This is disappointing and puzzling for a country that does other Bordeaux varietals so incredibly well (such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc). There was a few vintages released at the beginning of this decade where the quality of Carménère on all levels were impressive because producers started focusing on it, but now it's back to being just meh in the average price range people are willing to pay for wine. It's regressed and that's sad. Carménère makes me sad.

That's no reason to completely dismiss Carménère. Like I said, when it's done right it's outstanding. Find a good one and you'll become a believer like me, always in search of great Carménère. But hopefully you're not a natural pessimist like me. Anyways, the hunt is worth it.

But enough about that. Let's focus on the wine I have right in front of me. Viña Ventisquero is a winery of excellent reputation out of Maipo Valley. I believe they became aware of me after I posted this meme about Carménère. Recently they emailed me about trying some wines from the new 2013 vintage, which everybody in the Chilean wine industry is pooping themselves over. It was crazy cool down there I guess, which lead to a slow ripening, and there was minimal rain. So 2013 is supposed to be one of the best vintages of Chilean wine yet, which is great news after the damage of the 2010 earthquake.

The bottle just looks badass, doesn't it? Black and grey with a little bit of gold. Colors are great, design is great. The grapes are from a single block, specifically block N°5, in the Trinidad Vineyard within the coastal area of Maipo Valley. It's 100% Carménère, and 100% of it saw 18 months aging in French oak. The ABV is 14%.

It's a reddish-purple in color. At first the aroma is like you stuffed your head into a vat of blackberries. Then you get notes of blueberries, anise and cedar. At the tail end of the nose the volatile ethanol flares up and burns off your nose hairs.

BOOM! Blackberries all over the palate. Big, concentrated blackberries with black cherries and brown sugar. It's full bodied and has a velvety mouthfeel that I found so fun to slowly churn in my mouth. It finishes with mouth-drying tannin, blackberries and dried oregano.

THIS is a Carménère I can get behind. It wasn't bitter, it wasn't green, it wasn't lacking something you can't put your finger on. You can use this as an example of what Carménère CAN be. Ventisquero did a great job and I applaud them for making me a happy winelover tonight. I suggest you buy yourself a bottle if you come across it.

Up next will be their 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon!

Price: $20
Rating: 4/5 = Recommended (what does that mean?)

The bottle used was provided free of charge for the purpose of this unpaid review. To have your wine reviewed follow this link.

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  1. Just read this - brilliant review, so refreshingly different. Shall read it out verbatim at tomorrow's tasting.

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