WHAT: When I hear Carmenere I think Chile, and when I drink one I can picture the beautiful Andes Mountains towering over vineyards that slope down to the Pacific Ocean.
The wines usually are full of ripe fruit, with all kinds of juicy flavors. When I think Carmenere I don’t usually think restrained, Old World wines. I think lively, exuberant New World flavors.
This beautiful wine combines the best of both worlds. The company that produces Chateau Mouton Rothschild, one of the most famous and expensive wines in the world, has brought its wine making expertise to the terroir of Chile. The result is a fantastic wine at a great price.
It is a deep garnet with a purple rim in the glass, with aromas of blackberries, plums, vanilla and cherries, with some herbal and black pepper notes. The flavors explode on your tongue: strawberries, cherries, spices, vanilla. That all leads to a smooth, sweet finish. It is a powerful, balanced wine with muted tannins.
Like all the Anderra wines the Carmenere is fruit-forward and youthful, designed for immediate drinking. It might get a little better with aging, but it is close to its peak when the wine is released. This is a perfect example of an everyday wine to be enjoyed with all kinds of meals.
The grapes are grown in the Central valley south of Santiago, one of the prime growing regions in Chile. The grapes for this wine are grown at between 1,000 and 1,300 feet elevation.
After a controlled maceration and fermentation about half the vintage is aged in oak for six to eight months before bottling.
I would chill this slightly and let it warm in the glass.
WINERY: Philippe de Rothschild was 20 years old when he took over the operations of the Chateau Mouton Rothschild vineyards in Bordeaux, France, in 1922, and two years later came up with the unheard-of idea of bottling the entire vintage at the Chateau. Before that vineyards sold their wines in bulk, allowing merchants to age, bottle, label and sell the wine.
Philippe wanted to maintain control over his product from start to finish, a practice all major wineries follow today.
When he had grapes that didn’t measure up to his high standards, he created a second label, called Mouton Cadet. It was so successful that he had to buy grapes from other vineyards to meet the demand. The Mouton Cadet wines are still great everyday wines at very good prices.
In 1973, Chateau Mouton Rothschild became a Premiere Cru Classé (Classified First Growth), the only wine ever added to the 1885 classification. Since 1945, its label has contained a reproduction of an original piece of art designed by a contemporary artist specifically for Mouton Rothschild.
Philippe has partnered with New World wineries in California (with Robert Mondavi to make Opus One) and in Chile (with Concha y Toro to make Alamaviva). Anderra is wholly owned by the Baron Philippe de Rothschild SA company.
Anderra has its origin in the heart of South America, at the foot of the Andes mountains, and in the extraordinary diversity of Chile’s wine-growing regions. Anderra features the authenticity and rich flavors of the Andes terroir. Rothschild’s winemakers have sought to express the distinctive characteristics of their wines by selecting and vinifying grapes from only the best parcels of the Chilean vineyard.
The winery produces three varietal wines: sauvignon blanc is fresh and lively, with fruit-driven intensity; the carmenere is structure, with distinctive aromas and flavors, while the cabernet is more complex and concentrated with a long finish.
The winery’s name comes from a clever combination of “ANDes”, the iconic mountain range, and “tiERRA”, the Chilean terroir.
The wines are made, matured, bottled and packaged at the winery under the supervision of a French winemaker and under the control of an in-house laboratory.
GOES WITH: Teri and I drank this wine with baby back ribs I cooked on the grill. To my usual mop sauce I added a little Merquén, a Chilean spice blend that adds a great flavor to many dishes.
Merquén is made from smoked chili pepper, cumin, coriander and salt. The smoky and spicy notes from the spice helps meat pair beautifully with Chilean Carmenere. It worked perfectly with the Anderra Carmenere.
I don’t know if the spice is available in Augusta, but I have had no trouble buying it through the Internet. Several online gourmet shops offer it. I use it as a rub on meat, and in sauces and marinades.
The juicy, spicy, smoky ribs and the lush, fruit-forward wine played off each other, each making the other better.
This Carmenere would be great with all kinds of meat, especially grilled meat. You could pair it with grilled or roasted red meats such as beef or lamb, roast chicken or turkey; savory dishes, like earthy stews; spicy dishes, like braised short ribs, chile con carne, Texas ribs, or steak au poivre.