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Wine Review: 2011 Viña Ventisquero Grey Single Block Chile Carménère

This wine comes from the same region (Maipo Valley) that started my love affair with Chilean wines. It all started with a 1985 Cabernet Sauvignon purchased at Back Bay Liquors on Boylston Street in Boston many years ago.  Many years later, when I sold wine for a retailer (seems like a different lifetime), I moved a lot of Merlot. In those days, Merlot was popular, and the demand outpaced quality wine production. Soon, good quality Merlot became nonexistent among the offerings of less than $20 wines from California. To keep my customers happy, I started convincing them to try something different when palatable Merlot started to dry up. The grape I recommended the most was Carménère from Chile. Looking for an alternative, I was easily enamored by the devilish Carménère coming from Maipo Valley.

Fast forward to 2014 and here we are with some wonderful single vineyard designates coming from the Maipo Valley that will rock your world. Progress is a beautiful thing. Ventisquero hit a home run with this one. It has to be one of the tastiest Carménère I have had the pleasure to imbibe upon in quite some time. Relegated as a blending grape in France, Carménère proves it can step onto the center stage and carry the whole show with this wine from Ventisquero. Terroir can make a world of difference, but in this case, it was just a continent.

Sensually slamming this wine steams it up in the pleasure receptors, bringing a hot South American vibe. These Carménère grapes achieve this while living off the high altitude carbon dioxide and a minimal H2O diet. That sustentation keeps the vines on their toes while struggling in the elements. Those challenging conditions create some complex character while still allowing this grape to let loose enough to show its wild side.

This is a very racy wine that will appeal to anyone looking for something that will make you long for it when it’s gone. Oh yeah, it’s that good. A few minutes after pouring, sweet dark berry fruit, aromatic dried figs and fresh ground coffee beans lead the parade of aromas expressed. Showing earthy, dark and spicy nuances the wine expresses herbaceous, slightly green notes that are strangely appealing in this package of unique flavors. I would be remiss if I did not mention it was not the first time I found something a little strange very appealing, hasn’t everyone?

Try a bottle of Ventisquero Carménère and start living a different life in 2014. Remember to dance as often as you can (take my word on that one) and be kind to people while making better choices. Drink more Carménère and always go Grey; life is too short to settle for less than excellent. Here is my mantra for 2014, “It all starts with a glass of wine! Make it Chilean this time.”

Rating: Excellent (93) | $24 | 13.5% ABV

This post was written by:

- who has written 389 posts on Enobytes Wine Online.

Marc has over twenty years experience in the food & wine industry and is committed to celebrating hospitality with pride. He is a wine blogger contributor to OregonLive.com (Wine Bytes) and has also appeared on Portland's "Vine Time" on News Radio 750 KXL and on California's Central Coast "From the Growing of the Grape to the Glass" on KUHL-AM 1410. He is also the author of A History of Pacific Northwest Cuisine: Mastodons to Molecular Gastronomy. Follow Marc on twitter @macdaddy_m

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