The early arrival of summer has prompted me to jump right into rich barbeque reds — with something new and wonderful from Chile.
Chile has been the value wine leader for some time but it’s now expanding into the interesting category too. You can find delicious, yummy wines with a bit of style and personality.
One of the ways Chilean wines are becoming interesting is with the rediscovery of the Carmenere grape variety. The grape has been in Chile since the 1850s but winemakers have only recently crafted it into something other than another clone of Merlot. (Actually most growers thought it was Merlot and harvested it before it was fully ripe.)
It’s hard to get a clear fix on Carmenere’s personality as each winery seems to be coming up with a different expression. But let’s not worry about that as long as the wine tastes good. Tarapaca Carmenere certainly does. This red combines bigness with charm. Expect the richness of Merlot along with the seductive charms of Pinot Noir — which is not a bad thing to be sipping as you barbeque a burger or two!
What I also really like about Tarapaca’s wine is the bright, lively feeling. There’s a glow that keeps you wanting more and more. Somewhere between an invitation to dance and one to make love. Who needs a burger?
Billy Munnelly has been writing about wine for 25 years and is the author of Canada’s largest selling wine book, Billy’s Best Bottles. Sign up for his free monthly e-letter at www.billysbestbottles.com