In the 19th century, the red varietal Carménère virtually disappeared in its Bordeaux homeland due to phylloxera, an aphid-like insect that fed on the roots of the grapevine. In the early 1990s, though, a French enologist inspecting Merlot plantings around Santiago discovered that, for over 150 years, Chilean growers had been confusing the two varietals and that, in Chile's biogeographical insularity, phylloxera had never been a problem.
Since then, Chilean growers have turned to Carménère as their signature varietal, a unique wine that's grown in much smaller quantities in just a few other areas: Italy, California, and Washington state. Still, it's often undervalued, as three articles in the wine section of last week's San Francisco Chronicle suggest. The longest piece is a summary of Carménère's history and current status; the second is a review of various Chilean vintages; and the third provides recipes with which Carménère would be an ideal pairing.
Carménère is almost always in our own home wine supply, but it's good to see this underappreciated wine getting some well-deserved respect. It's both good and affordable.
Win This Book!
Several weeks ago, I held an online contest to give away a copy of Moon Handbooks Chile. In conjunction with today's post, I have a another quiz in which the prize is either MH Chile or, alternatively, Moon Handbooks Argentina.
This is a two-part question: 1) name Argentina's two signature varietal wines, one red and one white; 2) name the Argentine province or locality best known for each. Please send your answer to the address in the header above. The previous contest's winner is not eligible this time, sorry.