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Battle of the Carmenere’s, Don Manuel 2009 vs. Anakena 2010
As you may have read in previous blogs, Carmenere was one of my favorite discoveries last year. I have since been spreading the gospel of this signature Chilean, albeit originally Bordeaux, varietal ever since.
Luckily for my friends, okay only the friends that actually listen to the ravings of this wine lover, they have discovered and become enamored by this grape too.
This leads us to last weeks Sunday supper. On the menu was homemade tomato basil soup. Researching what wine to serve I repeatedly came across Merlot as one of the options. This reminded me of the fact that Carmenere, thought to be extinct for years, was discovered in Chile during the 1990’s inadvertently being grown as Merlot. Dilemma solved! If experts thought Chile’s Carmenere was Merlot I sure could exchange them at our wine novice dinner. So the BATTLE OF THE CARMENERE’s came to be. The 2009 Don Manuel was received from the Wall Street Journal Wine Club priced at about $16.00 and the 2010 Anakena was purchased through our local Total Wines & More for only $7.99 after having read two favorable articles from two different sources coincidentally about the same wine.
2010 Anakena: This single vineyard Carmenere is busting with black fruit, black pepper and tobacco. Intense flavours and velvety tannins make this an exceptional wine. Delicious with lamb and white meats, filled pasta and cheeses.
2009 Don Manuel: Few do this juicy red justice like top estate Viña La Rosa, where star Gonzalo Carcamo is chief winemaker. His rich, single-vineyard selection pays tribute to long-time local hero, winery founder Don Manuel. Part civil engineer, part winemaker, Don Manuel helped build roads, bridges and other infrastructure in Chile. He started Viña La Rosa in the early 1800s, and today it’s one of the country’s oldest, greatest estates.
I have to admit that I found having two samples of the same grape varietal side by side to be very educational. It made me realize that in our wine classes we are usually tasting different varietals from the same region and not comparing apples with apples or better said grapes with grapes. It was very interesting to note how similar yet different each one was. They basically both had the same base per se but the delicate features of the wine was different for each.
Don Manuel; strong, deep dark fruit tastes, enjoyably rich with strong tight flavors even after decanting for over an hour. Anakema; was softer and more gentle on the palette. We noted different levels of the following on both: raw peppers, grass, earthy, coffee, medium to soft tannins, and leather.
Both of these wines were a hit. The general consensus developed was that the DON MANUEL was more of a lets sit a spell and sip wine where the ANAKENA would go down smoothly and quickly, what I would call a Guzzler. This distinction between the two may have something to do with the difference in vintages. All said and done, our verdict since there should be one, is that in today’s economy $7.99 sounds a lot better than $16.00!