There is a time in your life when you want to just blend in. You want to look like everyone else, dress like your peers, sound like your peers, and are mortified when the attention is all on you. Or maybe that was just me. But thank God, that time is short-lived. Sometimes, it takes the support of others to put yourself out there, but, hopefully, you wean yourself from the need for a wingman. There comes a time when you can unapologetically speak your truth. You become uniquely you and are proud of the things that make you shine, that make you stand out from the others.
At first glance, this looks like an Atta-Girl-Self-Help blog. And, in typical form, there is a bit of truth in that. But this is actually about the grape. Specifically, the Single Vineyard variety. Today is Wine Blogging Wednesday 75. For over six years, fellow lovers of the vine have been sharing their insight about a variety of topics. Today, Joe Roberts is hosting “Singles Night.” I have been looking forward to it all month. Unfortunately, a cold has conspired against me and my palate is shot, so I chose to adjust my original plan. I had planned to taste a Wellington Cab that I have been holding, but I want to do it justice, so I went to a large supplier here in Austin to find something that was more readily available and less costly. With some help, I chose 2007 Morandé Edición Limitada Carménère.
Carménère has been mistaken as a Cabernet Sauvignon clone in France. It was thought to be a Merlot clone in Chile. It was trying to blend in, but it is now being seen more for who it is on its own. In fact, as old as the varietal is, it wasn’t recognized as a distinct variety in Chile until 1998. It took some time for Carménère to step into the spotlight.
The grapes come from San Bernado Vineyard in The Maipo Valley which is temperate with a dry, hot summer and a rainy winter. The soil is sand, stones, and clay with good drainage. It is produced in small quantities and aged for 16 months in French Oak.
The color is a rich crimson with hues of violet as to be expected from Carménère. The nose, well, I am the wrong person to ask right now, but it is spicy for sure. I think it needs to open because I am getting a lot of alcohol. The flavor, spicy and full-bodied. Earthy leather and some black fruit that I can’t discern. The finish is smoother than I expected from the nose. Which has, in fact, softened with some air. My co-taster (aka hubby) picked up black cherry, plum, cocoa. I am a fan of Carménère, for sure. I like how it is bold, yet drinkable. The tannins a bit softer, but it is still sturdy. Some that I’ve had were a bit harsh, with something to prove, but this one seems quite comfortable in its skin (ahem). A smoky, smooth finish, this is one I would get again.
The beauty of Single Vineyards is, I think, in being able to compare them to one another as I did with the Rieslings at Lamoreaux Landing. I wish I had another Carménère from a different vineyard to note the differences, although that might be wasted on me at this point in time. The differences would have to be pretty pronounced for me to pick them up right now.
Blending is typically a beautiful thing when it is done right. It can bring out the best in both grapes. Rough edges can be smoothed. What was a bit flat can be brought to life. Too much acid can be softened. When conditions get rough, even the sturdiest grapes need a partner. A difficult season or a small harvest happens to the best of them. But there are as many times when the right conditions allow, no, command that a grape is seen on its own. In its purest form. When it has a chance to shine. When we can see why, given the right conditions, the proper care, it deserves to be seen for all that makes its beauty unique.