Wine Time

Dennis Sodomka is a guest columnist | Contact Dennis

Wine Time: MontGras Carmenere Reserva 2010, Chile

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COST: $10

WHAT: This is a great example of Carmenere: soft, smooth and silky, with plenty of body to stand up to a meal.

In the glass the wine is a deep violet red, with nice aromas of spices and red fruit. On the palate it is well-rounded with black fruit flavors and rich and creamy tannins. The finish is long and smooth. There is just enough oak to give the wine a toasty accent. It really is a fun wine to just sit and sip.

Carmenere has a great story because for more than 100 years growers in Chile thought it was Merlot. The grape came from Bordeaux, where it was virtually wiped out during the philoxera epidemic that destroyed many of Europe’s vines.

When it was brought to Chile in the mid-19th century it was misidentified as Merlot until a university professor identified the Carmenere that had been planted in Merlot and Cabernet Franc vineyards.

Because Carmenere is a late-ripening grape, it does much better in Chile’s warm climate than it did in Bordeaux, where it often was picked before it was completely ripe. Vina MontGras has been producing this wine since 1997.

The MontGras vineyards, located in the Colchagua Valley, are in the heart of the Chilean wine country. The climate is typically Mediterranean, favoring the production of rich concentrated red wines.

WINERY: Vina MontGras was founded in 1993 by brothers, Hernán and Eduardo Gras, along with partner Cristián Hartwig. Hernan was a successful winemaker in Canada while Eduardo was an entrepreneur. Hartwig brought business experience and his ties to Colchagua to the partnership.

MontGras produces 6,000 cases a year and is known for quality. Their lineup includes Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, Zinfandel, Rose, Viognier, Semillon, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc

GOES WITH: Teri and I tried this wine with homemade vegetable beef soup, and it was a great complement to the tomato-accented soup. This is one of my favorite soups, so I’m picky about the wine I serve with it. This was clearly a huge hit.

Because it is a lively, fresh wine, this Carmenere would go well with lighter dishes. It also should go well with lamb, chicken, duck, pasta and rich cheeses.

WINE EVENTS

JAN. 26
Wine and tapas tasting,
5-6:30 p.m., La Maison on Telfair, 404 Telfair St.; taste four wines and three tapas, $19.99; (706) 722-4805

JAN. 27
Wine and beer tasting,
4:30-6:30 p.m., Vineyard Wine Market, 4414 Evans to Locks Road, Evans; (706) 922-WINE

JAN. 28
Wine and beer tasting,
1-6 p.m., Vineyard Wine Market, 4414 Evans to Locks Road, Evans; (706) 922-WINE
World beer festival,
noon-4 p.m. and 6-10 p.m., Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center 1101 Lincoln St., Columbia; featuring more than 250 beers, educational seminars: $40 per session if bought online at http://allaboutbeer.com, or $50 at the door if available

FEB. 6
Wine tasting,
5:30 p.m., Ninth Street Wine Market, 12 Ninth St. Valentine’s Day theme, includes sparkling wine; (706) 724-1442

FEB. 7
Wine dinner,
7:30-9:30 p.m., Casa Bella restaurant, 120 Chesterfield St. SW, Aiken; Italian foods; $60 Tasters Guild members, $65 others; reservations, Wine World, (803) 279-9522

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