Apaltagua Envero Gran Reserva Carmenere 2010

apaltagua The great 19h Century agnostic Robert Green Ingersoll said “courage without conscience is a wild beast.”

This wine appears to be acquiring a conscience because the wildness has been tamed and what is left is almost respectable–a wine with aspirations.

Carmenere is an odd grape. A former Bordeaux varietal although today seldom grown in France, it has found a home in Chile where the warm, dry growing season helps the vines to consistently flower and therefore produce reliable yields. Although Chile produces more Cabernet than Carmenere the latter has become a kind of signature grape for them.

When the grapes are harvested too early, Carmenere has an unpleasant green pepper flavor. When harvested on time the wine still exhibits a wild herbaceous note that has you thinking of David Lynch films or Keith Moon in his prime. But this Envero from old vines grown in Apalta is smooth and sophisticated (at least as sophisticated as this grape gets.)

On the nose, red fruits settle nicely into a vanilla bath. Well-tamed green olive notes round out the intriguing nose. On the medium body palate, the fruit becomes dark and foreboding while still wrapped in vanilla. As you savor the mid-palate, the herbaceous quality becomes quite pronounced and then the bitterness hits and your remember this is Carmenere—it was going to take you on a wild ride at some point. If you like the way a mouthful of Kale finishes, this is your wine. Actually, I’m exaggerating a bit. The wine is overall a pleasant experience. Good acidity and the characteristic soft tannins keep this wine in balance. The flavors are deep and mouth-filling, and with a nice, fatty burger to absorb some of the bitterness on the finish this will satisfy.

You owe it to yourself to take a walk on the wild side and this is one of the better Carmeneres available. A good bargain. 14% Alc.

Score: 87

Price: $15

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