Phylloxera. Ancient scourge of the winemaking world. These pale yellow sapsucking insects once destroyed almost three-fourths of France's vines, until resistant rootstock could be developed and shipped over from both America and Texas. If you have never heard of the Carmenere grape, it is because this varietal, once widely planted in Bordeaux, was thought to be entirely destroyed in the phylloxera plague of the late 1800's, and seemingly vanished off the face of the earth forever. However, in the 1990's, carmenere grapes turned up in the most unlikely of places, Chile, were original "merlot" vines brought over before the plague turned out to be Carmenere! How fortunate!! In the years since, Carmenere has slowly started to push its way North, and has arrived at such places as Whole Foods Market, where I purchased today's wine under consideration, the Hacienda Araucano Carmenere.
The robe of the Hacienda Araucano Carmenere is plum with garnet highlights. The nose reveals berries and wood smoke. Cherries, berries, smoked Gouda cheese, and spice play upon the palate, finishing with vanilla bean. This tipple would make an interesting pairing with pork tenderloin or lamb with mint or tzatziki. Like virtually all but the biggest South American producers, information is hard to come by on the web; I found a little bit on http://www.novusvinum.com/. Hacienda Araucano's importer, Francois Lurton, also has some info at http://www.francoislurton.com/, but their website does take time to load. In any case, smoke out some Carmenere today, and as always:
LIFE IS TOO SHORT FOR MEDIOCRE FOOD!!!