A Carménère That Bubbles Over With Freshness

A Carménère That Bubbles Over With Freshness

It's 'almost Pinot Noir-like, but delightfully original'

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Carménère comes in all shapes and sizes. This French grape, originally part of the vineyards of Bordeaux, now finds its home in Chile. But the variety of styles it engenders must be confusing to the average wine drinker. What am I going to get? It can be very Bordeaux-like and complex, or it can be earthy, with an almost Languedoc-style obvious richness. Or it can be like today’s example from Viña Maquis. I was struck by the freshness and approachability of this wine. It doesn’t lack for body, but it reminds one a basketful of fresh berries. It doesn’t lack for substance, but the clean freshness that greets you is cause for smiling. I’m sold, and I hope that this wine will make further inroads into the American market.

2014 Viña Maquis Carménère Gran Reserva, Colchagua Valley, Chile $19 srp

Translucent black cherry color. A “sweet” nose of ripe berries; raspberry and blackberry emerge on a bouquet that is pretty first, richly textured second. Almost perfumed, it’s a tantalizing expression of this grape. Flavors are medium-bodied and lithe, with berry fruits again predominating on a texture that finishes brisk and refreshing. Almost Pinot Noir-like, but delightfully original. Drink now-2021.

90/100 points

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Arturo Ciompi
Trained as a classical clarinetist and conductor, Arturo plied his trade for many years in New York, performing with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, New York City Opera, the American Symphony and countless chamber music groups. While living in Durham, Arturo became the wine manager at two iconic gourmet stores: Fowler’s in Durham and Southern Season in Chapel Hill. He had a wine spot on NPR in the ’90s and has been a continuously published wine journalist since 1997. He has won national awards for his work and is currently writing for Durham Magazine and its weekly blog, “Wine Wednesdays”. In addition, he loves teaching the clarinet. Read more on his website.