Wine Time

Dennis Sodomka is a guest columnist | Contact Dennis

Wine Time: Carmen Gran Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Chile

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COST: $14-16


WHAT: It’s nice when doing the right thing results in a great wine. That’s what has happened with the Carmen Gran Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2011.

Carmen is one of 20 wineries that meets the Wines of Chile sustainability code, meaning it meets guidelines for environmental and social responsibility. In practical terms, that means the winery should be making this delicious wine for many years.

Chile has made huge strides to improve the quality of its wine. Like many wine-producing regions, Chile has placed a huge emphasis on sustainability. Carmen, the oldest wine producer in the country, has been leading the way on both fronts.

The good news for current consumers is this Sauvignon Blanc is lip-smacking good, starting with a pale yellow-green color and intense aromas of lime and tropical fruit. It is a lively wine, fresh and full of apple and citrus flavors. It is a complex wine with good balanced acidity and a long finish.

The good news for future consumers is that the winery is doing all it can to make sure its vineyards will continue to produce great flavor for generations to come. The grapes in this 100 percent Sauvignon Blanc all come from the Leyda Valley, a cool-climate area perfect for growing great Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir grapes.

The El Pacifico vineyard, which produced the grapes, is less than nine miles from the ocean, and the cooling breezes create a long, slow ripening period that leads to complex aromas and acid retention.

The grapes were slow-fermented in stainless steel, remaining on the lees for up to three months. The combination of granite and clay soil, weather and steel fermentation results in an elegant wine, much more in the style of the Loire Valley than New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

Serve the wine well-chilled.

WINERY: Viña Carmen is the oldest wine producer in Chile, founded in 1850. It is best known for Carmenére, Chile’s signature grape, but it produces a variety of wines from its vineyards in the country’s best wine regions.

Carmen has been in the middle of the push for ecologically sound farming practices. In 2011, it received the “Certified Sustainable Wine of Chile” seal. The company has done extensive tests in each of its vineyards to determine which grape is best suited to each site. It conducts soil and climate studies, has reduced synthetic fertilizers and chemical additives and uses pesticides that are friendly to the environment.

Carmen wines are sold in more than 50 countries.

GOES WITH: My wife, Teri, and I had this with a rotisserie chicken, hash browns, peas and Brussels sprouts. The fresh acidity made it a great food wine. Each sip cleansed the palate, and the flavors didn’t compete with the food.

I also would serve it with raw shellfish such as oysters and clams, cooked shellfish such as mussels and shrimp, she crab soup, raw fish or ceviche, seafood paella, fresh cheeses and goat cheese, simple salads, cooked vegetables with subtle flavors and Chinese cuisine.

WINE EVENTS

THURSDAY, FEB. 21

WINE AND TAPAS TASTING, 5-6:30 P.M., LA MAISON ON TELFAIR, 404 TELFAIR ST.; FOUR WINES AND THREE TAPAS, $19.99; (706) 722-4805

Wine tasting, 5-8 p.m., Wine World, 133 Georgia Ave., North Augusta; three reds and three whites with matching cheese; $5, with rebate on purchase of a featured wine; (803) 279-9522

FRIDAY, FEB. 22

Wine and beer tasting, 4:30-6:30 p.m., Vineyard Wine Market, 4414 Evans to Locks Road, Evans; (706) 922-9463

Wine tasting, 6-8 p.m., Evans Towne Market, 4460 Washington Road, Evans; wines, cheese and crackers and live music most Fridays; $5; (706) 303-8591

SATURDAY, FEB. 23

Wine and beer tasting, 2-6 p.m., Vineyard Wine Market, 4414 Evans to Locks Road, Evans; (706) 922-9463

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 6

Wine dinner, 6 p.m., Cadwalladers Cafe, 106A Davis Road, Martinez; wines from Star Lane Vineyard; $75; reservations, (706) 860-7444

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